Gli animali parlanti, poema epico diviso in ventisei canti di Giambatista Casti. Vi sono in fine aggiunti quattro Apologhi del medesimo autore non appartenenti al Poema. Tomo primo ( - terzo).

Autore: CASTI, Giambattista (Acquapendente, 1724-Parigi, 1803)

Tipografo: Treuttel e Wuertz - Fratelli Manini - Frantin, Gravier e Comp.a

Dati tipografici: Parigi - Cremona - Genova, 1802

Three volumes, large 8vo. XIV, (2), 387, (1) pp. + (4), 412 pp. + (4), 415, (1) pp. Contemporary half-morocco, richly gilt back, marbled edges (small defect on the rear panel of the first volume). Some sparse browning, but a fine copy with large margins.

FIRST EDITION of this very popular and successful poetical allegory, which underwent numerous reprints during the 19th century.

Casti spent over eight years (1794-1802) on its composition. The work attracted so much interest that it was translated into French, German, Spanish, and (very freely and with additions) into English, in W. S. Rose's Court and Parliament of Beasts (London, 1819). Written during the time of the French Revolution, it was intended to exhibit the feelings and hopes of the people and the defects and absurdities of various political systems. The subjects for some of Goya's prints from the series The Disasters of War are taken from the Spanish translation of 1813. The poem particularly stands for the harmony and purity of the style, and the liveliness and sarcastic power of many passages. Casti pretends to derive the subject of his fabulous-satirical poem from a Brahminical text, which narrated events of an ancient pre-Adamitic age when the feathered birds and the hairy horned quadrupeds were furnished with intellect and word. The animals had given themselves an absolute monarchy and were ruled by the Lion. At the death of the Monarch, the despotism of the Lioness exasperates the opponents of the monarchy (the Clubists), causing a civil war in which the Realists are beaten. An armistice is signed by the parties and a general congress is convened on the island of Atlantis. However, a huge cataclysm then causes the island to sink, and those animals that are able to save themselves lose their prehistoric virtues. Within the narrative, Casti disguised political events of eighteenth-century France, showing the clash between monarchical absolutism and the new republican spirit (cf. S. Nigro, Casti, Giovanni Battista, in: “Dizionario biografico degli Italiani”, XXII, 1979, s.v.).

Giovanni Battista Casti was an Italian poet, satirist, and author of comic opera librettos, born in Acquapendente. He entered the priesthood after studying at the seminary of Montefiascone, and became a canon in the cathedral of his native place. Soon afterwards he gave up his chance of church preferment to satisfy his restless spirit by visiting most of the European capitals. In 1784, after the death of Metastasio (in 1782), he failed to be appointed Poeta Cesareo, or poet laureate of Austria, and he left the country in 1796. He spent the rest of his life in Paris, where he died in 1803.

Gamba, no. 2559; N. Parenti, Rarità biliografiche dell'Ottocento, Florence, 1961, VI, pp. 123-124.

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