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  • Libro De Las Ciento Novelas Que Compuso Juan Bocacio De Certaldo: Manuscrito J-II-21, Biblioteca De San Lorenzo Del Escorial ed. by Mita Valvassori
Valvassori, Mita, Ed. Libro De Las Ciento Novelas Que Compuso Juan Bocacio De Certaldo: Manuscrito J-II-21, Biblioteca De San Lorenzo Del Escorial. Cuadernos De Filología Italiana. Volumen Extraordinario 2009. Madrid: Servicio De Publicaciones De La Universidad Complutense, 2009. Pp. 340. ISSN 1133-9527

As interest increases in what works were available in translation in Hispania in the late Middle Ages, we continue to have important texts published, often in journals, and since these works do not appear in publishers’ catalogues, they are slow to be noticed. Such is the case with Valvassori’s edition of the first know translation of the Decameron into Castilian, conserved in the 186 folios of Escorial manuscript numbered J-II-2. Containing only fifty of the tales, as well as other material, and omitting many of the framing elements, the stories are arranged in an order whose logic is not immediately apparent to us.

This manuscript was in the collection of books of Isabel la Católica in Segovia, later incorporated into the new Escorial collection. Its history, I might add, is virtually the same as the Corbacho manuscript of the Archpriest of Talavera. Valvassori believes, based on its paleographic and linguistic characteristics, that this manuscript dates from the first half of the fifteenth century. The transcription applies the CHARTA norms as explained in Pedro Sánchez Prieto-Borjas’ La edición de textos españoles medievales y clásicos. Criterios de presentación gráfica, published in 2011 by Cilengua in San Millán de la Cogolla. Because there are many anacolutha and archaisms the editor affirms that she has done her best to create a text that is readable, which I believe she has done. These are Valvassori’s summaries of her aims:

Mi interés como editora es presentar la versión castellana antigua del Decameron de la manera más accesible para el lector actual, pero siempre [End Page 282] conservando un enfoque estrictamente filológico. Por ello, presento un texto normalizado según unos criterios de edición precisos y rigurosos, que permiten dejar abiertas las puertas a futuros estudios, pero que no impiden la comprensión de la obra a todos aquellos que estén interesados en ella.…

Por lo tanto, el fin de esta edición es fijar el texto del manuscrito escurialense J-II-21 para que se configure como punto de partida de una futura investigación, que transcienda el nivel estrictamente lingüístico y trate de explicar cómo se entendió por primera vez el Decameron en España, cómo se trasladó y adoptó al nuevo público y a su cosmovisión. Para poder plantear cualquier tipo de respuesta a estas complejas preguntas, es imprescindible el cotejo del códice castellano tanto con los testimonios de la época que pudieran haber servido de punto de partida para el traductor, con el original italiano del libro, editado y estudiado por Vittore Branca. Sólo el análisis comparativo puede aspirar a aclarar y explicar los numerosos problemas y dificultades que encierra el códice.

(9, 10)

Valvassori’s edition of the text is quite readable, using a vaguely modern orthography, and is well punctuated. It would have been clearer, however, had the introduction contained just one little picture of the manuscript, “aunque sea tamaño como un grano de trigo”, to confirm the author’s affirmations and to give us a clearer idea of the state of the text and of her editing methods, since the received text, according to the editor, contains many incongruities, especially errors of translation that proceed from the manuscript history. Her edition, properly respects the original disposition of the Spanish text, such as the division into paragraphs that can indicate to us how the translator and copyists understood the work. She does not mention that these divisions might not be original to the Spanish text and could have come from the Italian version being translated.

The translator understood Italian well enough, and his translation philosophy is the one often called “literal”, that is to say that, as far as possible, it is word for word, phrase for phrase. This is easy to do in languages related so closely linguistically and culturally as Italian and Castilian, and the result is pleasing. I made no effort to ascertain if the translator attempted to imitate stylistics.

We shall look forward to more studies of this translation by Professor Valvassori, hopefully culminating in a book. [End Page 283]

Eric Woodfin Naylor
The University of the South

Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
282-283
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-02
Open Access
No
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