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Reviewed by:
  • Il Canzoniere di Petrarca tra codicologia ed ecdotica, and: Francesco Petrarca, Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, edizione critica
  • H. Wayne Storey
Savoca, Giuseppe . 2008. Il Canzoniere di Petrarca tra codicologia ed ecdotica ("Polinnia: testi, studi e manuali di letterature europee" directed by Giuseppe Savoca) Firenze: Leo S. Olschki. Paper. Pp. 331. Euro 38.
Savoca, Giuseppe , ed. 2008. Francesco Petrarca, Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, edizione critica ("Polinnia: testi, studi e manuali di letterature europee" directed by Giuseppe Savoca) Firenze: Leo S. Olschki. Cloth. Pp. 665. Euro 70.

The publication of a new critical edition of a cultural icon like Petrarch's Rerum vulgarium fragmenta necessarily confronts 1: the recent textual tradition that has been essentially a receptus of Contini's editions of 1949 and 1964 with sometimes problematic conjectures and emendations in subsequent reprintings (discussed by BELLONI 2004, CAPOVILLA 2010, FENZI 1998, SUITNER 1996, and others), 2: the presence of a partial holograph (MS Vaticano Latino 3195) and the extensive ongoing research that such an important literary document has garnered, and 3: methodological issues that even in the best neo-Lachmannian approaches lead to perplexing doubts about a text that spawned centuries of study, debate, and poetic imitation. For example, microscopic emendations, often based on interpretative conjecture, brought forth in Santagata's and Bettarini's commentaries (respectively of 1996/2004 and 2005), both founded principally on Contini's 1964 edition, confirm a perspective somewhat unique to the textual tradition of Petrarch's Fragmenta, a preference for establishing the text according to previous editions rather than from the manuscript tradition. Evidence from several sources confirms that Modigliani's 1904 diplomatic edition of Petrarch's partial holograph of the Fragmenta, an edition whose aggiunte and correzioni were not always consulted, became the reference text for many who produced subsequent editions (see STOREY 2004b, 386n5). There is little doubt that in addition to the authority of a copy of the Fragmenta partially in the poet's own hand, an additional layer of authority accrued to Contini's editions, to the point that when in the [End Page 97] mid-1990s Furio Brugnolo and I proposed to the Vatican Library a new facsimile edition of MS Latino 3195 and a volume of commentary (BELLONI, BRUGNOLO, STOREY and ZAMPONI 2003 and 2004), the project was immediately welcomed by then Prefect Leonard Boyle as a means to redirect attention to the codex itself, long ignored except by some of us who had long been puzzled by Wilkins' conjectural assessments (1951) and by Petrarch's scribal treatment of the poetic genres that comprise the work.

Petrarch's Fragmenta (Rvf) have for non-specialists a problematically misleading textual tradition. Petrarch's perhaps most influential work has never been the subject of a Lachmannian edition. In 1501 Aldo Manutius claimed that Bembo had used Petrarch's own copy to edit the Cose volgari di messer Francesco Petrarca. This assertion did not keep Pietro Bembo and Aldo Manuzio from making a significant interpretative change in the edition of 1514, moving the division between Parts 1 and 2 from the canzone I' vo pensando (264) to the sonnet Oimè il bel viso (267).1 Eleven years later Alessandro Vellutello (1525) argued that the codex bound in white leather could not have been Petrarch's copy in light of the first letter of the Familiares. Not until the late nineteenth century (1886) was the Vatican codex Latino 3195 definitively reclaimed by Nolhac as Petrarch's, followed — in 1896 — by Giovanni Mestica's critical edition based not only on the readings of Latino 3195 but also upon its marginalia, that is the small numbers with which Petrarch experimented with reorderings of the last thirty-one poems of the Fragmenta in his own service copy. Mestica altered the order in which these poems had appeared in early manuscripts and previous printed editions. Not even Valdezoco's 1472 Paduan edition, taken directly from the same white leather manuscript that Bembo and Vellutello had seen, had given this different arrangement to these final poems.2 And therein lies one of the fundamental problems of the textual tradition of Petrarch's Fragmenta. [End Page 98]

Many literary scholars today will...


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