Dante : La Commedia (Comm. Jacopo della Lana). Ed. Cristoforo Berardi da Pesaro. Venice: Vindelinus de Spira, 1477.

Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321


<p style='text-align: justify;'><p>The 1477 Venice edition of the Commedia was edited by Cristoforo Berardi and printed in Venice in 1477 by Vindelinus de Spira. It was the first to appear with paratextual innovations and includes Giovanni Boccaccio’s Vita di Dante and an extensive commentary, written by Jacopo della Lana, ‘both appearing for the first time’ (Speight, ‘The John Rylands Library Dante Collection’).</p><p>Canto numbers of each page have been drawn, in ink, next to the heading of each cantica at the top of each leaf. Throughout Inferno, canto numbers appear on each page, whereas within Purgatorio and Paradiso this system of numbering covers only the pages containing the canto and does not continue onto the pages of accompanying commentary. The text is angular and gothic, and is set out into two columns, with ample space left to invite reader annotations, which appear throughout.</p><p>Within the central margin of <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(41);return false;'>a3r</a>, at the beginning of Inferno, a handwritten annotation reads ‘Questo libro è di Giovanni di Simone di Franco di Piero Berti’. This note is not written in the same hand as the dedication on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(5);return false;'>ā1r</a>, and thus suggests at least three previous owners for this book, although more than three hands appear in the annotations.</p><p>This book is rich in reader annotations, suggesting that it was closely-read, and contains many hand-drawn manicules, identifying sections which the reader found particularly interesting or important. The first of these can be seen in the right-hand margin on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(43);return false;'>a4r</a>. Further examples of manicules can be seen especially between <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(337);return false;'>canto XV and canto XX of Purgatorio</a>, where a total of seven manicules are located. The manicules vary in length and style and are sketched in several different inks, suggesting multiple readers. </p><p>Other marginalia gives further evidence of readership. For example in the top right-hand corner of <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(389);return false;'>t1r</a> there is an ‘m’ shape, with a circle inside each curved part of the letter, referring to the passage in Purgatorio XXIII, 32-33, ‘chi nel viso de li uomini legge "omo" / ben avria quivi conosciuta l'emme’ (‘He who reads 'omo' / in men's faces would have easily made out the 'm.'). This symbol is repeated on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(392);return false;'>t2v</a>, where it appears twice in the commentary to these lines; once in the central margin, and once in a blank space left in the second column of text. </p><p>Further signs of annotation include the correction of the poem on both <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(507);return false;'>cc4r</a> - where the word ‘dentro’ has been underlined and the correction ‘d’entro’ provided - and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(603);return false;'>hh2r</a>, where the words ‘e trenta’ have again been underlined, with ‘e tre’ written within the right-hand margin. On <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(242);return false;'>l3v</a>, the word ‘Giantrõe’ has been scored out and corrected as ‘Ganellone’. It appears that <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(597);return false;'>gg9</a> has been particularly closely-read: a new system of lettering has been annotated by the reader and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(598);return false;'>gg9v</a> has a large cross marked in the left-hand margin, relating to a reference within the poem to ‘Bellincion Berti’ (Paradiso XV, 112). The surname of this character is the same as that found in the annotation upon <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(41);return false;'>a3r</a> [‘Questo libro è di...Piero Berti’].</p><p>The final annotation in the copy is on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(753);return false;'>PP11r</a> and quotes Proverbs 30:15-16 in Latin "Tria sunt insaturabilia, et quartum quod nunquam dicit sufficit. / Infernus, et os vulvae, et terra quae non satiatur aqua ; ignis vero / nunquam dicit sufficit. Proverb.XXX.n.ro 16." It is written in a different hand to any of the other annotations found within this copy.</p></p>

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