Le opere di G. B. P. di Moliere, divise in quattro volumi, & arricchite di bellissime figure. Tradotte da Nic. di Castelli […] Tomo I (-IV)

Autore: MOLIÈRE (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622-1673)-DI CASTELLI, Nicolò tr. (1661-?)

Tipografo: a spese dell'autore, & appresso Gio. Lodovico Gleditsch [a spese dell'autore, & appresso Gio. Lodovico Gleditsch]

Dati tipografici: Leipzig, 1697

Formato: in dodicesimo

First Italian edition of Molière's complete theatrical works

Four volumes, 12mo (147x77 mm); [6], 108, 100, 44, 44, 51, [1], 74, 89, [1], 50 pp. with 9 engraved plates; [4], 83, [1], 40, 40, 96, 102, 66, 38, 80 pp. with 8 engraved plates; [4], 127, [1], 70, 96, 134, 88, 101, [1] pp. with 6 engraved plates; [4], 71, [1], 143, [1], 94, 80, 81, [1], 41, [1], 32, 34, 47, [1] pp. with 9 engraved plates. Collation: π4 (-π4) A-D12 E6 A-D12 E2 A12 B10 A12 B10 A-B12 C2 A-C12 D2 (-D2) A-C12 D10 (-D10)A-B12 C2 (-C2); A-C12 D6 A12 B6 C2 A12 B6 C2 A-D12 A-D12 E4 (-E4) A-B12 C10 (-C10) A12 B6 C2 (-C2) A-C12 D4; π2 A-E12 F4 A-B12 C12 (-C12) A-D12 A-E12 F6 G2 (-G2) A-C12 D6 E2 A-D12 E4 (-E4); π2 A-C12 A-F12 A-D12 (-D12) A-C12 D4 A-C12 D6 (-D6) A12 B10 (-B10) A12 B4 A12 B6 (-B6) A-B12. Each volume opens with a general title page printed in red and black and bearing the date 1698. Each one of the 31 dramas contained in the four volumes has its own title page (dated 1697) and separate pagination. The illustrations include: an engraved allegorical frontispiece in volume one; Moliere's engraved portrait on the half-title verso of volume two; Nicolò di Castelli's portrait on the half-title verso of volume three; and 31 engraved plates, at the beginning of each drama, engraved by Daucher. Decorated initials and head-pieces, woodcut ornaments on the title pages. On the half title of each volume is the list of the comedies contained in the volume (“Comedie contenute nel tomo”). The volumes are uniformly and nicely bound in 19th-century French red gilt morocco, panels within a triple gilt fillet, richly gilt spine, marbled endleaves, gilt edges (Rivière & Son). Slightly browned. On the front pastedown of volume one is the bookplate of the American banker and leader of the Boy Scouts of America, Mortimer Loeb Schiff (1877-1931), whose daughter Dorothy Schiff was the owner of the New York Post from 1939 to 1976.

RARE FIRST EDITION of the first Italian version of Molière's complete theatrical works in the translation by Nicolò di Castelli, which was reprinted several times until the 1750s, when Gasparo Gozzi's new translation was first published (Venice, 1756-1757). Our copy also includes, in volume two, La Principessa di Elida, which is often missing. This edition is in fact rarely found complete with all comedies, as these were also sold individually (cf. P. Toldo, L'oeuvre de Molière et sa fortune en Italie, Turin, 1910, pp. 202-206).

Castelli's translation, if not distinguished by its elegance and accuracy, has the merit of containing the full 150 macaronic verses in the reception scene of the Malade imaginaire as well as the complete version of the beggar's scene in the Festin de Pierre, as the translator had access to the very rare Rouen edition of 1673 (cf. B. Croce, Un insegnante di lingua italiana in Germania: Nicolò di Castelli, in: “Nuovi saggi sulla letteratura italiana del Seicento”, Bari 1949, pp. 358-368). “Cette traduction ayant été faite d'après le text d'une édition de Hollande, le scène du pauvre du ‘Festin' s'y trouve en entier” (Lacroix).

Nicolò di Castelli, who was born in Lucca in 1661, moved to Germany around 1680, becoming secretary of the Elector of Brandenburg and later professor of Italian in Halle. In Berlin in 1691 he published an Italian translation of the Epistolae Mahometi II and, in the following years, other translations and original works; however, today his name is primarily remembered for the present translation, whose main purpose was to teach Italian to a German-speaking audience by using a universally appreciated text. For his didactic work he also compiled a successful Italian-German vocabulary (Leipzig, 1700, reprinted at Halle in 1718). The place and date of his death are unknown (cf. C. Mutini, Castelli, Nicolò, in: “Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani”, XXI, 1978, s.v.).

Michel & Michel, V, 184; Rasi, p. 456; Lacroix, Bibliograhie molièresque, pp. 148, 593.