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Petrarch's Treatise On Handwriting?


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#1 HDoug

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 19:27

I've read that Renaissance writer Petrarch wrote a treatise on handwriting. I want to read it. Anyone track it down?

Doug

#2 koa

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 20:55

La scrittura di Francesco Petrarca?
There is this entry in the Open Library. Doesn't look like the UH system libaries have a copy. WorldCat seems to say there is an ebook of it somewhere, but not accessible due to copyright restrictions. Interlibrary loan?
"... for even though the multitude may be utterly deceived, subsequently it usually hates those who have led it to do anything improper." Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, XXVIII:3 Loeb Edition

#3 josiah

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 22:43

La scrittura di Francesco Petrarca?
There is this entry in the Open Library. Doesn't look like the UH system libaries have a copy. WorldCat seems to say there is an ebook of it somewhere, but not accessible due to copyright restrictions. Interlibrary loan?


I know that editions can be copyrightable, but it just seems strange to me that literature from the fourteenth century and written by the most famous writers living at that time can be hard to find for copyright reasons...

#4 HDoug

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 07:01

La scrittura di Francesco Petrarca?
There is this entry in the Open Library. Doesn't look like the UH system libaries have a copy. WorldCat seems to say there is an ebook of it somewhere, but not accessible due to copyright restrictions. Interlibrary loan?


There does seem to be an ebook available. How the heck does one borrow an ebook? How do I do this?

Doug

#5 koa

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 08:13

Borrowing e-books is one of the questions of the century! Libraries are acquiring them, and publishers are trying to get them to treat them like physical copies, that is, if it is checked out, no one else can download another copy. And of course, when the first borrower "returns" the ebook, they are supposed to delete their copy. "This ebook will self-destruct in 2 weeks" sort of thing. Madness, pure madness.

As for copyright, Petrarch's original work is long out of copyright, but the text linked to above was published in 1967 (and how is your Italian, Hdoug?), so still under copyright. No problem copying the original, if you can get your hands on a copy! I suggest the Vatican Library, but you may have to take Robert Langdon with you.

We could use more info on the original work. Was it published? In Italian or Latin? Has it ever been translated?

Otherwise, there are several collections of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts on-line, and while a cursory search does not turn up any links, they may have graphical copies of the work in question?

[P.S. I assume you are working off the Wikipedia entry on Humanist miniscule? If not, take a look.]

Edited by koa, 03 December 2012 - 08:17.

"... for even though the multitude may be utterly deceived, subsequently it usually hates those who have led it to do anything improper." Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, XXVIII:3 Loeb Edition

#6 HDoug

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 23:17

Well, Iʻm kinda bugged that such an important and oft cited document isnʻt readily available in translation or images. And visiting the Vatican library is something of a dream. They have a lot of cool manuscripts there and recently exhibited Gallileoʻs manuscript of Sidereus Nuncius, the first written description of heavenly bodies observed through that new fangled device, the telescope.

But anyway...sometimes one can only say, oh well. Oh well...

Doug

#7 pennamer

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 23:57


La scrittura di Francesco Petrarca?
There is this entry in the Open Library. Doesn't look like the UH system libaries have a copy. WorldCat seems to say there is an ebook of it somewhere, but not accessible due to copyright restrictions. Interlibrary loan?


I know that editions can be copyrightable, but it just seems strange to me that literature from the fourteenth century and written by the most famous writers living at that time can be hard to find for copyright reasons...


With respect, the book to which you refer is not a work that Petrarch had written. Instead, it is a paleographer's exploration of the evolution of Petrarch's handwriting, suggesting that changes in script and style over the years coincide with Petrarch's evolving philosophy of what we would today label humanism. The book draws upon Petrarch's handwriting, collected with few illustrations but ranging from early glosses or margin comments to later letters, journals, and poetry manuscripts.

As for a work that Petrarch himself composed on the subject of handwriting, my own non-expert guess would be that it comes in the form of one (or several) of his letters in the multi-volume collection on "familiar and ordinary things" called Familiares. Apart from that, I am not aware of a stand-alone book that Petrarch wrote about handwriting.

#8 HDoug

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 00:14

With respect, the book to which you refer is not a work that Petrarch had written. Instead, it is a paleographer's exploration of the evolution of Petrarch's handwriting, suggesting that changes in script and style over the years coincide with Petrarch's evolving philosophy of what we would today label humanism. The book draws upon Petrarch's handwriting, collected with few illustrations but ranging from early glosses or margin comments to later letters, journals, and poetry manuscripts.

As for a work that Petrarch himself composed on the subject of handwriting, my own non-expert guess would be that it comes in the form of one (or several) of his letters in the multi-volume collection on "familiar and ordinary things" called Familiares. Apart from that, I am not aware of a stand-alone book that Petrarch wrote about handwriting.


Wow, that book sounds fascinating too. Has it been translated into English?

As to the work by Petrarch, I see it cited often as a treatise or essay. Most recently I am still trying to remember, but I did come across reference to it somewhere a day or two ago. It is cited and quoted by Berthold Ullman in his book, Origin and Development of Humanistic Script for instance.

Doug

#9 wij

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:01

I looked up the Ullman book and it seems that the reference I can see about handwriting is to Petrarch commenting on the bad habits of manuscript writers within his Sen[ilium rerum libri], Book VI, 5. So maybe the next step for you is to look up an English translation of these "Letters of Old Age" and see what Book VI contains.

There's a copy of an English translation at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hamilton library.

PQ4496.E29 E23 1992
Letters of old age = Rerum senilium libri / Francis Petrarch ;
translated by Aldo S. Bernardo, Saul Levin, Reta A. Bernardo.

Will J.

#10 pennamer

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:05


With respect, the book to which you refer is not a work that Petrarch had written. Instead, it is a paleographer's exploration of the evolution of Petrarch's handwriting, suggesting that changes in script and style over the years coincide with Petrarch's evolving philosophy of what we would today label humanism. The book draws upon Petrarch's handwriting, collected with few illustrations but ranging from early glosses or margin comments to later letters, journals, and poetry manuscripts.

As for a work that Petrarch himself composed on the subject of handwriting, my own non-expert guess would be that it comes in the form of one (or several) of his letters in the multi-volume collection on "familiar and ordinary things" called Familiares. Apart from that, I am not aware of a stand-alone book that Petrarch wrote about handwriting.


Wow, that book sounds fascinating too. Has it been translated into English?

As to the work by Petrarch, I see it cited often as a treatise or essay. Most recently I am still trying to remember, but I did come across reference to it somewhere a day or two ago. It is cited and quoted by Berthold Ullman in his book, Origin and Development of Humanistic Script for instance.

Doug


I have Ullman in hand, and, if you and I are referring to the same citation, then my reference to letters collected as Familiares is correct. I continue to find no reference to a specific treatise or essay by Petrarch on handwriting. At pp. 12-13, Ullman refers to Petrarch writing "to Boccaccio that a copy of his (Petrarch's) epistles is being made, not in the spreading luxuriant lettering, fashionable at a time when scribes were painters, that pleases but tires the eyes, as if it were invented for anything else than reading, but in a trim, clear hand, appealing to the eye." The footnote refers to Familiares XXIII, 19. The rest of Ullman's paragraph and its supporting footnotes make additional references to other Petrarch letters. At p. 14, Ullman draws on further letters of Petrarch to set out the preference for "reading a copy in a larger script", especially in old age.

As for the paleographic study, I doubt this obscure title is available in anything other than its original Italian. However, I did find a brief book review from MLN:
http://www.jstor.org...=21101517801237
http://www.jstor.org...=21101517801237

#11 koa

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 05:10


La scrittura di Francesco Petrarca?
There is this entry in the Open Library. Doesn't look like the UH system libaries have a copy. WorldCat seems to say there is an ebook of it somewhere, but not accessible due to copyright restrictions. Interlibrary loan?



With respect, the book to which you refer is not a work that Petrarch had written. Instead, it is a paleographer's exploration of the evolution of Petrarch's handwriting, suggesting that changes in script and style over the years coincide with Petrarch's evolving philosophy of what we would today label humanism. The book draws upon Petrarch's handwriting, collected with few illustrations but ranging from early glosses or margin comments to later letters, journals, and poetry manuscripts.

As for a work that Petrarch himself composed on the subject of handwriting, my own non-expert guess would be that it comes in the form of one (or several) of his letters in the multi-volume collection on "familiar and ordinary things" called Familiares. Apart from that, I am not aware of a stand-alone book that Petrarch wrote about handwriting.


I hope I did not give the impression otherwise. But the references I found suggested that the author did discuss, and possibly reproduce? Petrarch's original work. Maybe not. The search continues?
"... for even though the multitude may be utterly deceived, subsequently it usually hates those who have led it to do anything improper." Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, XXVIII:3 Loeb Edition

#12 HDoug

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 21:45

I have Ullman in hand, and, if you and I are referring to the same citation, then my reference to letters collected as Familiares is correct. I continue to find no reference to a specific treatise or essay by Petrarch on handwriting. At pp. 12-13, Ullman refers to Petrarch writing "to Boccaccio that a copy of his (Petrarch's) epistles is being made, not in the spreading luxuriant lettering, fashionable at a time when scribes were painters, that pleases but tires the eyes, as if it were invented for anything else than reading, but in a trim, clear hand, appealing to the eye." The footnote refers to Familiares XXIII, 19. The rest of Ullman's paragraph and its supporting footnotes make additional references to other Petrarch letters. At p. 14, Ullman draws on further letters of Petrarch to set out the preference for "reading a copy in a larger script", especially in old age.

As for the paleographic study, I doubt this obscure title is available in anything other than its original Italian. However, I did find a brief book review from MLN:
http://www.jstor.org...=21101517801237
http://www.jstor.org...=21101517801237


Yes, I believe that letter cited is what is described as, "his essay on the subject, La Scrittura..." in this article at the academically indisputable website, Wikipedia (yes Iʻm joking!). Iʻm thinking the two are talking about the same writing because as you point out, Ullman says, "Petrarch writes to Boccaccio that a copy of his (Petrarchʻs) epistles is being made, not in the spreading luxuriant lettering, fashionable at a time when scribes are painters, that pleases but tires the eyes, as if it were invented for anything else than reading..." (emphasis mine), and the Wikipedia article says, "in his essay on the subject, La scrittura he criticized the current scholastic hand, with its laboured strokes (artificiosis litterarum tractibus) and exuberant (luxurians) letter-forms amusing the eye from a distance, but fatiguing on closer exposure, as if written for other purpose than to be read."

The Wiki article also mentions Petrucciʻs book. So I guess I now search Petrarchʻs letters to his friend Boccaccio and hope for an English translation. Else if someone knows Latin...

Something else interesting is that Ullman mentions that not only were the books of the time written in difficult to read Gothic, but also really tiny. He mentions text that contemporary Coluccio Salutati complains about that survives to this day. The letter bodyʻs were only .5mm high and lines were only 4mm apart!

Anyway, off I continue on my quest. Thanks all for the suggestions and tips!

Doug

Edited by HDoug, 04 December 2012 - 21:47.