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Angelica's Book and the World of Reading in Late Renaissance Italy (Hardcover) (Brendan Dooley)
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Through the lens of a history of material culture mediated by an object, Angelica's Book and the World of Reading in Late Renaissance Italy investigates aspects of women's lives, culture, ideas and the history of the book in early modern Italy.
In a Florentine antique shop in 2010, Brendan Dooley discovered a badly damaged copy of Straparola's 16th-century work, Piacevoli Notti, inscribed with text on page 144 by its apparent owner, Angelica Baldachini. This book scrutinizes Angelica's inscription from the standpoints of calligraphy, orthography, linguistics, dialectology and the socio-psychology of writing; it examines the copy of Piacevoli Notti, its author and the book's place in literature: these two key bits of historical evidence, the owner's inscription and the book itself are wrung for all they can tell us about renaissance publishing, literature in a time of early modern censorship and women's involvement at the time with reading, books and knowledge. There are moments of conjecture, moments of inference, but this is as much a book about what can and cannot be done with historical evidence as it is about what we can find and confirm, about process as well as results.
Angelica's Book and the World of Reading in Late Renaissance Italy is an exploration of how a historian might come to know something about the context in which a 16th-century book was received by a contemporary owner or reader. It is about the promises and limitations of historical discovery and analysis, of book culture in the late Italian Renaissance, and is a thought-provoking read for any scholar of early modern Europe and its culture.