Quattro libri de dubbi con le solutioni a ciascun dubbio accommodate. La materia del Primo è Naturale, del Secondo è mista (benche per lo piu sia Morale) del Terzo è Amorosa, & del Quarto è Religiosa

Autore: LANDO, Ortensio (ca. 1512-ca. 1560)

Tipografo: Giolito de Ferrari Gabriel

Dati tipografici: Venezia, 1552

Formato: in ottavo

8vo (156x101 mm). 318, [2: colophon] pp. Collation: A-V8. Leaves C6v and C7 (pp. 44/46) are blank. With the printer's woodcut device on the title-page and at the end. Contemporary limp vellum, inked title on spine (slightly stained, traces of ties). Pale dampstains at beginning and the end of the volume. A genuine copy.

FIRST EDITION, published without the author's name, who, however, appears several times in the text. Another proof of Lando's authorship is the publication of the Dubbi amorosi (not included in the present edition) under his name in Vari componimenti di M. Hortentio Lando (1553). The omission of the Dubbi amorosi is justified by the printer Giolito on p. 318: “Io promise di darvi quattro libri de Dubbi, hor non havendo sin hora potuto impetrare la licentia dei Dubbi amorosi, sono sforzato à darvene solamente tre. Quanto piuttosto ella si potrà ottenere, ve li darò con altri piacevoli componimenti del medesimo autore. Fra tanto state sani & godete quanto vi porgo” (cf. I. Sanesi, Il cinquecentista Ortensio Lando, Pistoia, 1893, pp. 235-252).

The work is in form of short dialogues in which the author answers to ‘doubts' (puzzling que- stions) proposed by various ladies and gentlemen, his friends and acquaintances, all mentioned by name (e.g. Torquato Bembo, Fulvio Rangone, Pio degli Obizzi, Lucrezia Gonzaga, Caterina Colonna). The first part deals with the natural world, the second with human psychology and ethics, the third with religion. It was translated into French (Lyon, 1558) and into English (wrongly attributed to Alain Chartrier, London 1566) (A. Olivieri, Les ‘Quattro libri de' dubbi' d'Ortensio Lando, l'intelectuel et le langage de la mort, in: “Langage et vérité. Etudes offertes à Jean-Claude Margolin par ses collègues, ses collaborateurs, ses élèves et ses amis”, J. Céard, ed., Genève, 1993, pp. 169-178).

The first part dealing with natural philosophy, dedicated to the Christoph Mülich, agent of the Fugger of Augsburg in Naples, is certainly the most interesting and presents Lando in a new phase: as a dapper in natural science. “The works of Garimberto [Problemi naturali et morali, 1550] and Landi belong to the literary genre of erudite miscellanies of the Renaissance […] both authors draw their material, among other sources, from Pseudo-Aristotelian Problemata, from Alexander of Aphrodisia, and from Girolamo Manfredi's Libro del perché […] The two works witness some changes in the idea and in the function of the marvellous. Firstly they show that marvellous or curious aspects are not found only within the natural world (viz. among plants, animals, or meteorological phenomena), but also in ourselves and in our lives […] Secondly, they indicate that all topics which can be treated as ‘problems' are also an occasion of displaying erudition, of showing how wide the personal culture of the compiler is, and how able he is to answer all kind of questions […]  Finally, the marvelous is closely related to the aim of delighting the readers; for the two authors, the pleasure of reading con be increased not only by searching for strange or unusual questions, but also trenching the range of topics from science to ethics and spirituality […]  The question-answer form turns out to be just a strategy to attract the attention of the readers and to increase their pleasure in reading, helping the compilers to realize the project of providing fun through science” (I. Ventura, The Collections of Natural Questions and their Development from 13th to 16th Century, in: “Allgemeinwissen und Gesellschaft”, P. Michel & al., eds., Aachen, 2007, pp. 299-300; see also B. Lawn, The Salernitan Questions: An Introduction to the History of Medieval and Renaissance Problem Literature, Oxford, 1963, pp. 101, 139; and E. Zanotti Carney, I ‘Dubbi' di Ortensio Lando e il ‘Perché' di Girolamo Manfredi, in: “Giornale Storico della letteratura italiana”, 185/609, 2008, pp. 64-78).

“Lando's genius is essentially humorous and paradoxical. His faculty for seeing the other side of things, and his readiness to challenge the most settled convictions of mankind, were accompanied by an equal readiness to refute his own conclusions. Thus, the advocate of intellectual topsy-turvy was also the defender of the conventional. In reality, Lando with all his dialectical skill and wealth of illustration, is an inveterate joker, and it could be said that in his most elaborate disquisitions he is, with however grave a face, only laughing in his sleeve” (W.E.A. Axon, Ortensio Lando, a Humorist of the Renaissance, in: “Transactions R.S.L.”, XX, 1899, p. 37).

Born in Milan, Ortensio Lando studied there under Alessandro Minuziano, Celio Rodogino, and Bernardino Negro. He continued his studies at the University of Bologna and obtained a degree in medicine. For five years (1527 to 1531) he retired in different Augustinian convents of Padua, Genoa, Siena, Naples, and Bologna, studying various humanistic disciplines, among them Greek. In these years he became acquainted with the works of Erasmus and kept friends with various scholars with Evangelical inclinations as Giulio Camillo Delminio and Achille Bocchi. After a short stop in Rome he preferred to leave Italy and settled at Lyon, where he worked as editor in the printing house of Sébastien Gryphe. Here he also met Étienne Dolet and published his first work Cicero relagatus et Cicero revocatus (1534). Then he began a wandering life and in the next twelve years he is found in Basel, where he published Erasmi funus (1540) and attracted the anger of the city's Reformed church. He visited France and was received at the court of King Francis I. He reappeared at Lyon in 1543, where he printed his first Italian and most successful book Paradossi (1543). He then visited Germany, and claims also to have seen Antwerp and England. At Augsburg he was welcomed by the wealthy merchant Johann Jakob Fugger. In 1545 he is found in Piacenza, where he was received by Lodovico Domenichi and Anton Francesco Doni in the Accademia degli Ortolani. Then followed a decade of rela- tive peace in which Lando's life became stabilized on Venetian territory. He was present at the opening of the Council of Trent and found a patron in bishop Cristoforo Madruzzo. In Venice he worked for various printers, mainly for Giolito, and often met Pietro Aretino, with whom he had already a correspondence since several years. In 1548 he translated Thomas More's Utopia, wrote the Commentario delle più notabili mostruose cose d'Italia, and published the Lettere di molte valorose donne, the first collection of letters by women. He was also very active in the coming years and published numerous works, in which he criticized the traditional scholarship and learning and in which he showed close sympathy with the Evangelical movement. In fact all his writings appeared first in the Venetian indices and later in the Roman Index (cf. S. Seidel Menchi, Chi fu Ortensio Lando?, in: “Rivista Storica Italiana”, 106/3, 1994, pp. 501-564).

Edit 16, CNCE 27028; Universal STC, 837283; A. Corsaro, Bibliografia di Ortensio Lando, Bologna, 2012, p. 7.


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