We’ve been a bit quiet on the conference blog for a while, but still busily working away in the background, we assure you. And now we have something to show for it, as we’ve established a really exciting new collaboration. On Friday Rhiannon and I had a meeting at Cardiff University with Special Collections librarians and academics to see how we might collaborate for our Locating Boccaccio events next year.
Cardiff University recently acquired a remarkable collection of rare books, and are setting up a number of new initiatives to open up this hitherto understudied resource to researchers. The holdings are extraordinary for their range and rarity, and include a considerable number of early printed continental books, including over forty Boccaccio editions both in the original Italian and Latin, and in translation.
Peter Keelan, the Head of Special Collections, had very kindly pulled all the Boccaccio editions for us to look at before our meeting, and we fell on them like ravening bibliomaniac wolves.
Another library, another trolley. Bliss.
The Cardiff books are quite different to the Rylands collections, due to their provenance history. This collection was put together for the Cardiff Public Library from the late nineteenth century onwards, and the books were acquired via donations, purchases and bequests. The Rylands library early editions, meanwhile, were generally acquired through the purchase of aristocratic collections, and these different histories can be seen immediately in the bindings. The Cardiff editions have a much higher proportion of original or older bindings, and are sometimes in rather worse repair, while the Rylands ones have often been rebound (like the Roxburghe Decameron), and are often pristine, prestige copies.
Here are two fantastic Cardiff Boccaccios: the first is a 1525 Laberinto d’Amore (the Corbaccio), with a soft cover made from another printed sheet, and the second an Italian translation of the Genealogia, where you can see how the binding was put together using strips of old manuscripts. If you click on the pictures you’ll be able to see them in more detail.
At the meeting we discussed how we might collaborate for the anniversary, especially around our key Locating Boccaccio themes of material culture and translation (and not least the Decameron in Welsh, as translated by the former Serena Professor of Italian at Manchester, T. Gwynfor Griffith!). We’re hoping Cardiff speakers will be able to present these holdings at the Manchester conference, and that in turn we can go and do some close-up sessions with the Cardiff books. There is also some very exciting potential for collaboration on digital resources and maybe even a Welsh exhibition as well. Thanks to Peter and colleagues for inviting us, and watch this space!