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Reviewed by:
  • I Giolito e la stampa nell'Italia del XVI secolo
  • Julia L. Hairston
Angela Nuovo and Christian Coppens. I Giolito e la stampa nell'Italia del XVI secolo. Travaux d' Humanisme et Renaissance 402. Geneva: Librairie Droz, 2005. 634 pp. + 78 b/w pls. index. append. illus. tbls. bibl. CHF 220. ISBN: 2-600-01001-7.

The most obvious initial reaction to any new volume on the Giolito publishing house of Venice would be to inquire how it might differ from Salvatore Bongi's seminal Annali di Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari. The authors of just such a text — Angela Nuovo and Christian Coppens — respond to this inquiry in their introduction, pointing out that although they consider Bongi's text fundamentally important and still useful, theirs differs in several ways. First, they were able to make use of electronic databases unavailable to Bongi, primarily EDIT 16. They also offer an array of previously unpublished material, some of which was unknown to him. Finally, they emphasize the book more as an object than as a text. As a result, the volume explores a number of issues related to the book trade in general such as the system of privileges, the evolution of the marchio, as well as a history of the house from its initial development. Nuovo and Coppens also forewarn the reader that they don't address the issues of book illustration and dedications and dedicators and advise that these topics are thus ripe for study.

The volume provides an overview of all the various phases of the Giolito publishing enterprise and begins with Gabriele's father, Giovanni, who operated primarily in Pavia, Trino di Monferrato, and Turin. Nuovo also chronicles Giovanni's activities in France, primarily in Lyons. The second chapter thoroughly chronicles all the various phases of Gabriele Giolito's Venetian publishing house (1539-78) in terms of how work was organized and books produced. Nuovo emphasizes the significant investment — monetary and cultural — that Gabriele Giolito made in the Italian vernacular, as evidenced primarily by the lyrical anthologies, and outlines how his editorial collaborators contributed to this success. Nuovo also insists on Giolito's use of translations (from both classical and modern languages into Italian) and ties it to a nascent attempt at European cultural homogeneity. [End Page 1269]

Chapter 3 is dedicated to the publisher's marchio and commercial organization including Giolito's marketing strategies, use of correspondents, and the creation and operation of branch offices in Padua, Ferrara, and Naples. Nuovo defines Gabriele Giolito's use of the phoenix in the marchio as a "vera e propria offensiva di marketing" (125) and credits part of his extraordinary success as a publisher to strategies such as this one, with which he cashed in on the "cult of emblems" that characterizes this era.

Nuovo's chapters devoted to the system of book privileges in sixteenth-century Italy and to Gabriel Giolito's enterprising and innovative use of them represent one of the text's strongest suits. These chapters (4-5) exemplify two of the outstanding characteristics of the volume: its extensive use of the archives and its up-to-date bibliographical contextualization. Nuovo corrects misconceived notions of the privilegio and differentiates between the various types and how they functioned in the Italian states. In chapter 4 she also discusses the licenza di stampa and relates its development in Venice and later diffusion to other states.

The only reservation one might advance regards the volume's heterogeneity, for it reads as two books in one: more than half of the entire volume is composed of appendices. These appendices include a significant amount of previously unpublished material including a list of books for sale in 1587, a printed catalog from 1592, a reconstruction of several series published by Giolito in addition to a year-by-year reconstruction of his publications, and a number of different letters. Coppens is responsible for all of the appendices, excluding the letters. The letters include those between Gabriele Giolito and Antoine Perrenot, later Cardinal Granvelle, as well as those from Gabriele Giolito to various other recipients, primarily his relative Lelio Montalerio, who also helped take care of some of Gabriele's business affairs in...


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Print ISSN
pp. 1269-1270
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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