Diplomatic 1554 - Witness Description

The witness of the 1554 first edition of Matteo Bandello’s novellas, in three volumes (USTC: 812163; edit16: 4083), which has been transcribed here is preserved at the Boston Public Library, and is digitised here. The fourth volume would be published posthumously in Lyon in 1573, printed by Alessandro Marsili in octavo format. The novella ix, “La Sfortunata Morte Di Dui Infelicissimi Amanti, che l’uno di veleno, e l’altro di dolore morirono, con varii accidenti”, is contained in La seconda parte delle novelle (the Second Part of the Novelle). The engraving of the title page is very ornate and sensual, with naked boys and women, and the display of Vincenzo Busdrago’s device (a dragon whose tail morphs into the face of a hooded bearded man).

This edition, with olive-green morocco bound, has engraved title pages and woodcut historiated initials. It is in quarto format (390 leaves; signatures: A-CCCiiii). The volume features Busdrago’s general dedicatory epistle to Luca Grilli, a table of contents, and Bandello’s preface to the readers. Each novella is prefaced with an epistle to a particular person, recounting the fictionalised events and setting that saw the original narration of the story. Novella ix is prefaced with an epistle to Girolamo Fracastoro.

The epistles are written in italics, as are some proper names in the text. There are neither authorial nor handwritten notes.