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kevin stevens on...

6.12 Catechism and Condescension, paragraph 3

Reading this chapter again, I am struck by the breadth of the vernacular reading curriculum. You do a great job of highlighting the considerable variety of texts (commercial/arithmetic, musical, how-to, religious, etc.) available to readers. I am thinking you could (should!) add a section here, something like “Sanctity in the Classroom.” Religious educators such as Carlo Borromeo and Silvio Antoniano (in Milan) considered saint’s lives to be important aids in moral instruction in both the catechism and vernacular schools. (see Turchini, 1996). Numerous examples of such inexpensive texts (octavos, 8-32 pp.) survive in Italian libraries. A sustained and extensive study of these booklets could yield interesting information about ownership, usage, and reading habits. Great job, Paul.

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Posted March 9, 2009  11:07 am
5.14 Conservative Typography, paragraph 2

Hi Paul,
Just to add to your argument about the popularity of Bossi’s grammar in Milan. I’ve recently located a stationer’s shop from that city (ASM, notarile, 4 March 1613, f. 24498) in which the presence of Bossi is particularly striking. The inventory lists 70 dozen (840 copies) “regole Bosso” with a wholesale price of just under 2 soldi/copy. Alvares’ grammar (“emanuel”) appears on the list too, but only in 12 copies, each listed at 16 soldi/copy.

Also recorded in quantity and variety are donati (“al sena”; “al vocaboli”) and the *regola* of Guarino (in one case combined with the donato). Like Bossi’s work, these are described as being sold in bundles of 12 (dozzina)** and priced as such. Wholesale prices fall in a narrow range, from 1 soldo for the cheapest donato (printed on 4 1/2 sheets) to just under 3 soldi for a text combining the regola and donato.

All of this is strong evidence to support your claim of the continuing market for very conservative grammars well into the seventeenth century.

** I would like to know why such grammars (as well as thin devotionals and slight works of hagiography) were sold and priced by the dozen. Anyone have any ideas about this?

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Posted February 12, 2009  3:46 pm