Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dr. Spitta's Contribution to One of the Longest Running Book Series Ever

Not too long ago my sister-in-law was on a professional trip to Zurich, Switzerland and, knowing of my bibliophilia, returned with a few gifts to add to Tarquin Tar’s Bookcase. This week’s book is one of those items.

Published in 1912 in Berlin and Leipzig by G. J. Göschen, the book is Das Deutsche Kirchenlied in seinen charactteristeschen Erscheinungen {German Church Music in Representative Examples} by University of Strasbourg professor of theology Dr. Friedrich Spitta (1852-1924), a noted Protestant preacher and scholar of Jewish descent. This particular copy is of volume one of Spitta’s study: “Mittelalter und Reformationszeit” {“Middle Ages and Reformation”}. Because the book was mass-produced as part of an educational series (see below), the title is not exceptionally rare, though I do notice that all of the dealers currently offering it for sale are located in Germany, so I suspect it is somewhat uncommon here in the United States.

The book is volume 602 in the prodigious Sammlung Göschen {Göschen Collection}, a series of pocket-sized books that was launched by the firm founded by the then-deceased publisher Viscount George Joachim Göschen (1752-1828) in 1889 for the express purpose of offering highly quality, durable books of German texts, edited by leading scholars of the day, and sold at a price (80 cents) that made them accessible for school use across Germany. The first ten volumes in the series focused on classic works of the German enlightenment; volume eleven introduced science to the mix (on astronomy, by A. F. Möbius, the mathematician who lent his name to the famed Möbius Strip geometric form) and the next year the popular series expanded to include a variety of fields, such as education, geology, psychology, mythology, and logic.

After the turn of the century, the series changed its mission from school use to use in the universities and the number of titles it offered increased exponentially, reaching 500 in 1910 and 1000 in 1931. After the turn of the century the series was acquired by publisher Walter de Gruyter (though the series name did not change) and continued to be issued into the mid-1990s. With an active production of new titles for over a century, the Sammlung Göschen is one of the longest-running scholarly series of books of the modern age. The series mission statement, as it appeared in volumes throughout the twentieth century (including this one), reads:

To present our current knowledge in short, clear, universally understood monographs. The purpose and objective of the Göschen Collection is to provide, in individual examples, a clear, easily understandable, and concise introduction to all areas of science and technology and to give, through close examination on a strictly scientific basis and taking into account the latest research, the most reliable information possible. Each topic is discrete, but all volumes possess an inner relationship with each other, so it is expected that the whole thing, when completed, will exist as a uniform, systematic presentation of all of our entire knowledge. 

Designed for the convenience of the student reader, the book is a slim volume, bound in durable tan cloth with inked titles, borders, and publisher’s device (an eagle standing over the letters “GJG”) on the cover. Its corners are rounded slightly, but this is from wear and not part of the book’s deliberate production. The pages measure 10cm x 15cm and are of a dull gloss, lightweight stock. As with most continental books, the signatures are numeric rather than (as they are in England and America) alphabetical. The collational formula may be expressed as 8o: [#] 18-98 [π]: $2 with the exception of gathering 1 in which the first leaf is not signed. The second leaf of each is signed with an asterisk (*) after the gathering number. On the inner lower corner of the initial page of each gathering is the name of the author and volume title -- something that, as I’ve noted previously, was no doubt meant as an aid to the printer in keeping sheets from multiple volumes in the same series from being confused.

This indicates, of course, that the printer was employed on more than one title at a time (which would probably have been necessitated by the series’ rapid dissemination of new titles). The initial leaf and ultimate leaf are conjugate directly with the endpapers pasted down inside the front and back covers respectively; the ultimate leaf is a blank fly and the initial is a catalog list advertising other related volumes in the series (the front cover’s paste-down has the series mission statement). Pages 128 and 129 have split apart somewhat, revealing that the gatherings were bound together with iron staples which have started to rust slightly and then were pasted down along their edge into the binding. Beginning with the title page [11r] the pagination runs throughout the book as [1] through 141 (on [97r]) with only p. 140 unmarked.

As the title indicates, the book is a collection of hymns and devotional songs of the early German church. Following a four page introduction in which Spitta summarizes the history of the use of music in German religious services, there is a chapter of 29 Catholic hymns from the Middle Ages. After this is the section on the Reformation hymnodists, which begins with a chapter presenting 20 hymns by Martin Luther, followed by chapters containing 42 hymns from 19 other German theologians and musicians as well as from several different traditions (including “The Könisberger Songs” and “Mart Gras Songs”). Several of the Catholic hymns are in Latin; all of the Protestant hymns are in German. Throughout, Spitta provides brief explanatory remarks before some of the verses to set them into their context and brief biographical paragraphs on the writers; he also frequently cites other scholarly works (including his own) for further reading. At the end there is an index of hymns by first lines.

One of the reasons my sister-in-law thought I’d like this book is because of my interest in marginalia. My copy has been closely read and used for its scholarly purposes by a very conscientious reader. Up until p. 57 nearly every page has been carefully marked with either red ink or blue ink (or both) to underline or box in specific passages. The same reader has used a system of “x” marks within the text (or “xx” on pages with more than one annotation) to refer to marginal glosses he or she has added. These glosses provide German translations of specific Latin words with which the reader was evidently unfamiliar and, in some cases, suggests cross-references to other hymns or composers in the book. What strikes me most about this marginalia is its intense precision; usually readers marking in a book tend to be casual (they’re readers, after all, not writers) and even when making notations to aid future readings they’re often only leisurely about aligning their marks (especially if they are college students). This reader, though, uses a tidy system of notation and clearly used a straight-edge for all the underlining and boxing.

There is even a deliberate switch between blue and red ink in the markings: based on how the two colors line up when they are used it is clear that they were both added by one reader and at one time, which meant the reader had a particular reason (indiscernible to me, alas) for using blue ink or red ink in marking the text at particular places. The only place where both inks underline a phrase is the first two words of Luther’s “Der Glaube zu deutsch” {The Faith of the German”} on page 50, of which the first line reads “Wir glauben all an einen Gott” {“We all believe in one God”}. Likewise, some of the marks used to draw attention to various passages differ from single underlines to double underlines, single marginal lines to double marginal lines, and in some places text boxes.

Of course, this is one of the reasons I enjoy browsing through old books -- they don’t only provide evidence of how their authors wrote or their makers printed but they are also our best (and often only) real evidence of how readers before us read, thought about, and responded to the ideas they contain. But, as the Deutsche Kirchenlied reader’s switching between red ink and blue or his seemingly arbitrary use of underlining in some places and text boxes in others reminds me, no matter how much evidence these readers’ marks offer up, their system of codes and their purposeful selectivity always leave incredible gaps. These silences compel us to accept that we and our readerly forerunners have only this miniscule connection -- as thin and fragile as the sheets of paper on which the book is printed -- and we will never have, nor should we worry ourselves too much in trying to find, all the answers about the readers who have come before us. We, too, will someday be mysteries to those who in a hundred years read the same books that we have read -- people who, like us, will struggle to catch just a fleeting glimpse of their predecessors in the margins of our books.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"And now I sit and muse on what may be...": A First Illustrated Edition Longfellow Poem

This time of year sees high school and college graduations all around the country, and it was no different in our neck of the woods. Since so much attention is given to the graduates going through their rite of passage, I decided that with this week’s book I’d turn the attention back to the other players in this annual drama: the parents. The book is, once again, not technically part of my collection, though it does currently reside in Tarquin Tar’s Bookcase.

The book itself is actually a single poem, accompanied by 42 illustrations, and typographically stretched out to fill a whole volume. The poem is The Hanging of the Crane by the American literary icon Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and this was its first appearance in book format, published by the noted Boston firm of James Osgood in 1875 and printed by the Welch, Bigelow & Co. University Press. It had first been published in the March 28, 1874 issue of the New York Ledger, though Longfellow had probably written it for private circulation amongst his acquaintances before that date because it was only through the intervention of his friend Samuel Ward that Robert Bonner, proprietor of the Ledger, bought the manuscript from the poet for the staggering sum of three thousand dollars (nearly $57,000 in modern currency). Today the Osgood edition is not extremely rare, though it is quite collectible; most dealers value it at approximately $40 to $90 (or $200-$400 if signed by the poet). 

The poem appeared in many later editions and anthologies, perhaps the most significant reprinting being the 1907 Houghton Mifflin edition to celebrate the centennial of Longfellow’s birth (Houghton Mifflin was the firm that Osgood’s company eventually became; Osgood itself had previously been the legendary Ticknor and Fields, publishers of nearly every nineteenth century American author of note, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and Henry David Thoreau). The 1907 edition included illustrations by Florence Swan that were based on the Longfellow’s house on Craigie Street in Cambridge, where Longfellow himself hung his own fireplace crane in 1843.

This copy was rebound after the turn of the century for an early owner, and while some collectors would consider it therefore less valuable I find the binding -- green cloth boards with green leather corners and spine, with gilded edges and elaborate tooling and marbled paper on the inside -- both tasteful and elegant. The rebinding was done by J. W. Meyer & Company, a New York bindery located at 147 West 24th Street in the first decades of the twentieth century and that had gone into business in 1905. Knowing the importance of original bindings, Meyer’s craftsman preserved the original leather exterior of the first binding -- rich green all over with sumptuous illustrations and gilded decoration -- and pasted the cover, spine, and back onto extra leaves at the back of the book. Overall, the book is in excellent condition.

The pages measure 15cm x 21.5cm and, with the exception of the leaves inserted by the second binder (two at the front and five at the back), are of a heavy, almost card-like, stock with brightly gilded edges. Providing a collation of the book is made more complicated than normal for several reasons: it looks as if the sheets were not printed in the customary fashion but were printed with two conjugate leaves (that is, one oblong sheet) impressed at a time and then quired together into two large gatherings; this, however, does not account for the rebinding, which could have resulted in a reconfiguration to the original gatherings (and may explain the apparent loss of a leaf at the start of the book).

Many dealers online describe the book’s construction as octavo, but this seems merely conjectural to me. The pagination of the book reveals that an initial leaf was apparently lost in the rebinding: after the two leaves inserted by the binder, the preliminaries run [iii]-x, with [i-ii] as the missing initial leaf. After the preliminaries there are two unnumbered leaves and then the start of the poem proper, which runs [15]-64. The inserted leaves at the end are also unpaginated. This is the first time I’ve seen a book in which the miniscule Roman numerals used to paginate the preliminaries are continued numerically with the Arabic numerals used to paginate the book’s contents; I don’t know if this was part of this book’s unique design or a regular trait of the printer or publisher’s.

There are no marginalia in the contents of the book, though there is one instance of an owner’s annotation on the recto of the second inserted leaf at the front. A neat italic hand, using dark brown ink, has gifted the book with an amusing little inscription:

November 5th, [19]58

To Finn & Esther and their brood!

A token of thanks for being a real live family for me -- 

An old book for your new home from the boy who wouldn’t stay for dinner, but did stay a month plus.

As Ever

Mike better known as “George”

In addition to the inscription, Mike apparently also removed a previous owner’s bookplate from inside the front cover, where the residue of the label’s glue is still faintly visible.

The book’s preliminaries include a plate showing a dinner party, facing (through an intervening tissue leaf) the title page (with the copyright notice on the verso), followed by four pages of a “List of Illustrations” giving the illustrations’ caption, artist, and page number; after this there is an illustrated half-title followed by the poem itself, divided into its customary 7 sections. All of the engravings were done by the English emigrant poet, political essayist, Chartist, and artist William James Linton and by artist, book designer, and newspaper man A. V. S. Anthony, who also designed the book and supervised its printing. I assume that Anthony was brought into the project by Portsmouth, NH native poet and novelist Thomas Bailey Aldrich, who met Anthony when the two were working at the  New York Illustrated News (Aldrich as editor and Anthony as art manager), though Anthony had a closet relationship with Osgood’s firm in his own right, working as an editor on a youth newspaper the firm published and providing engravings for other books, including John Greenleaf Whittier’s 1870 Ballads of New England. Aldrich is significant because, according to an account given by Aldrich in the preface to the 1907 centennial edition, he was the cause of the poem’s composition:

One morning in the spring of 1874, Mr. Longfellow came to the little home in Pinckney Street [in Boston], where we had set up housekeeping in the light of our honeymoon. As we lingered a moment at the dining-room door, Mr. Longfellow turning to me said, “Ah, Mr. Aldrich, your small, round table will not always be closed. By and by you will find new young faces clustering about it; as years go on, leaf after leaf will be added, until the time comes when the young guests will take fight, one by one, to build nests of their own elsewhere. Gradually the long table will shrink to a circle again, leaving two old people sitting there alone together. This is the story of life, the sweet and pathetic story of the fireside. Make an idyl of it. I give the idea to you.” Several months afterward, I received a note from Mr. Longfellow in which he expressed a desire to use this motif in case I had done no thing in the matter. The theme was one peculiarly adapted to his sympathetic handling, and out of it grew “The Hanging of the Crane”. 

Anthony and Linton’s engravings are based on the work of two artists: painter and book illustrator (often used by Osgood’s firm, including for their 1875 edition of Whittier’s “Mabel Martin”) Mary A. Hallock, whose work supplied 28 of the plates, and the great American landscape painter Thomas Moran, whose work supplied 14. Not surprisingly, nearly all of the landscape and nature illustrations are by Moran; all of the interior and portrait illustrations are by Hallock. Besides that art, the book includes numerous emblematic and ornamental “vignettes” drawn by illustrator (and Civil War veteran, wounded June 14, 1863 during the 133rd Regiment of New York Volunteers attack on Port Hudson, LA) John J. Harley.

The “sweet and pathetic poem of the fireside” (to use the Riverside edition’s description), as suggested by Aldrich’s anecdote, centers around the plight of the empty-nester. It takes as its core motif the old house-warming custom of installing the “crane” (the hinged metal arm that held cooking pots over the fire) into the fireplace; the celebration of the hanging of the crane was symbolic, usually the last preparation before moving in and transforming the house (to use the cliché) into a home. For those of you interested in reading it, the full text is available online.

According to Alma Bount, in her Intensive Studies in American Literature, the structure and evocative mood of the poem is elegantly simple:

Part I is introductory, and represents the poet as remaining after the guests have spoken their good wishes and departed, and as sitting before the fire to dream about the coming life of the family just established. The other six parts contain the six pictures of home life that drift through the mind of the dreamer, and carry the founders of the family in his imagination from youth to old age. The table is represented as the gathering place, partly form the suggestion of Longfellow’s words to Aldrich, and partly because the entire family meets more often at the table than anywhere else. Each picture is preceded by a prelude of six lines. This breaking of the poem by preludes would not be good in a continuous narrative or description, but is an excellent device for keeping separate a series of six pictures scattered over a period of fifty years. (164) 
[The] closing part is remarkable for the way in which it gathers up the earlier parts, and rounds the poem into rhetorical completeness.... The figure in [the final] lines refers to the apparent endlessness of the home the parents have founded, one generation following another in their imagination, through ages to come. (167) The poem as a whole is quiet and meditative -- it is a series of six dream pictures. The poet writes tenderly, as one who has lived through these scenes and loves the memory of them. This poem would earn for Longfellow the title of “Poet of the Home and the Fireside,” if he had no other claim upon it. The poem is true to life, inspires the imagination, and pleases the artistic sense by its beauty of expression. (167-8)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A French Translation of an Italian Classic... Published in England

As I’ve noted previously, many of the books given to me by my grandfather when he moved are written in foreign languages. Several, in particular, are late eighteenth-century French translations of significant works of literature. This week’s book is part of that subset.

The full title is Contes de J. Bocace, Traduction Nouvelle, enriche de belles Gravures {Tales of G[iovanni] Boccaccio, Newly Translated, enriched with beautiful Prints}. My copy is volume three of what is a ten-volume set (each volume corresponds to one night of story-telling within the frame narrative of the Decameron), published in 1779. As with most multi-book sets from this period, it has been orphaned from its brethren and now stands alone. The Short Title Catalog lists only nine libraries in the world that hold the complete set of this series and I have been able to find only one dealer online (Simon Finch Rare Books) selling the whole set (for $1,234; individual volumes, like mine, are usually valued separately at $70-$90 each).

The place of publication is given as “Londres” {London}, though Finch suspects that this is incorrect and that it was actually published surreptitiously in Paris; the firm gives no reason for this. No publisher's name is provided in the book and I have been unable to find one in the various catalog listings.

In its original binding of full calf under marbled paper, with gilded ornamentation on the spine and board edges, the book is in fairly good condition; some slight cracking of the spine suggests the hinge has been well worked and the top and bottom edges -- as usual -- are a bit frayed. The text block, however, is in very good shape with only some slight water-staining throughout. The pages measure 9cm x 14cm and have 4 horizontal chain-lines at 3cm spaces; no watermark is immediately evident. The collation formula for the book may be expressed as 8o: [#3] A8 (A6+1) B8-C8 (C1+1) D8 (D4+1) E8-F8 (F2+1) G8 (G3+1) H8 (H6+1) I8-K8 (K6+1) L8-O8 (O4+1) P8-Q8 (Q5+1) R8-S8 (S5+1) T8-[V4]; $4 signed except V ($2 signed). The added leaves in gatherings A, C, D, F, G, H, K, O, Q, and S are the engraving plates, which are slightly smaller pieces of paper that have been pasted onto a bound-in stub in each case; conjugate to these stubs are cancellan stubs from the other half of the sheet (I’ve chosen, for simplicity’s sake, not to reflect these stubs in the formula or in the leaf-count below; they occur for every plate, usually about three or four leaves before or after the plate’s leaf).

In total, there are twenty full gatherings (it was always customary to omit the letters J and U from signatures in hand-press books) of 8 leaves apiece, plus one half-gathering at the end, a three-leaf gathering at the head, and ten illustration leaves, for a total of 177 leaves (in very businesslike fashion, no paper is wasted on blank flyleaves). Leaves M3-M6 have been trimmed peculiarly short on the bottom, but no loss of text results. From A[1] the pages have consistent running-titles throughout and are from that point to [V4v] paginated 1-312 (the inserted leaves for the plates are not paginated and not within the run of the pagination). Interestingly, the signature of the first leaf in each gathering includes the footer “Tome III.” {Book III}, which suggests that more than one volume in the series was being printed at once and the pressmen needed to a system to keep track of which quires belonged to which book. The lack of variance in the catchwords across each sheet suggests the high degree of skill the printer’s workers demonstrated in putting together what must have been a tremendous job (if each volume was of similar size, that puts the entire output for each set at 1,770 leaves per set, or just over 221 full sheets per set).

As the title promises, the book contains ten plates reproducing prints by Gravelot. The plates occur on both the recto and verso of their inserted pages (the illustration facing the first page of the text [that is, facing A1r] was the only one not “inserted”; it is, rather, part of the # partial gathering) and illustrate many of the key scenes of the tales, including some rather racy ones. Indeed, naked body parts are in copious supply in some of these illustrations, particularly women’s breasts and both men and women’s thighs; an enthusiastic owner of this copy has taken the time to carefully color in the exposed flesh (and the flowing bed curtains) in the aftermath of the sex scene scene between Ricciardo and the wife of Filippello, shown in print number 6, accompanying “Nouvelle VI”.

Hubert François Bourguignon (1699-1773) was known as “Gravelot” (a reference to his work as an illustrator and engraver) and moved from his native Paris to London in 1732, where he lived until retiring in 1745. His work and style was tremendously influential for an entire generation of English illustrators, including most notably his pupil, Thomas Gainsborough. Perhaps Gravelot’s most well-known illustrations where the drawings commissioned from him for the second edition of Lewis Theobald’s Works of Shakespeare (1740). In addition to these prints, each chapter concludes with a printer’s device imprint (cherubim, houses, doves, etc., and, in two places, what looks like a playhouse) and each begins with a different printer’s device banner at the head of the first page of the chapter.

With the exception of the colored illustration, there is little else in the way of reader’s markings in the book. A modern penciled hand has scribbled “Vol 3” inside the front cover, along with “1779” and a circled “p. 52” on the half-title of [#1r]. The last of these marks refers to the oddly placed “Note de la Deuxième Nouvelle” {“Note on the Second Short Story”}; the note appears on p. 52 (that is, D2v), at the very end of the second story. None of the other stories have such a note, for after that story the translator/editor (on whom, more below) switched to using footnotes rather than endnotes to provide annotation and commentary on his text. Besides, the modern pencilled hand, an earlier copper ink has written in several places: on A1r, in the printer’s ornament in the top margin, appear the elegant initials “A M P R”; these appear again, in smaller size and underlined, written vertically in the outer margin of p. 307 (V2r). These initials also appear within a monogram stamp the owner inked onto the title page (#2r), just to the right of the printer’s ornament. The same reader may have been responsible for the only annotation I have found in the book: on the blank verso of S6+1 (that is, illustration plate number 10) a similar brown ink -- now somewhat runny from water damage -- offers the enigmatic “Le Fam[ ] e[ ]t [ ]e mort[ ]”.

The book begins with three preliminary leaves (half-title; title page; verso plate). The remainder of the book’s contents are as follows (accompanied by the chapter summaries for each tale as given in Brown University’s Decameron Web translation -- which is also a good starting place for those readers unfamiliar with Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio’s serial novel of plague-escapees passing their time in refuge in the countryside by telling amusing, often dirty stories, written between 1350 and 1353):

  • Troisième Journée” {“Third Day”} introduction. (pp. 1-11)

  • Nouvelle Premiere. / Mazet de Lamporechio, ou le Paysan parvenu.” {“First Story. / Masetto of Lamporecchio, or the Rustic upstart.”} Masetto da Lamporecchio feigns to be dumb, and obtains a gardener's place at a convent of women, who with one accord make haste to lie with him. (pp. 12-34)

  • Nouvelle II. / Le Tondu, ou le Muletier hardi & rusé.” {“Story II. / The Short-Haired Man, or The Bold and Crafty Muleteer.”} A groom lies with the wife of King Agilulf, who learns the fact, keeps his own counsel, finds out the groom and shears him. The shorn shears all his fellows, and so comes safe out of the scrape. (pp. 35-51)
  • “Note de la Deuxième Nouvelle” [see above]. (p. 52)

  • Nouvelle III. / Le Confesseur complaisant sans le savoir.” {“Story III. / The kind Confessor without knowledge”} Under cloak of confession and a most spotless conscience, a lady, enamoured of a young man, induces a booby friar unwittingly to provide a means to the entire gratification of her passion. (pp. 53-84)

  • Nouvelle IV. / Le Mari en pénitence, ou le chemin du Paradis.” {“Story IV. / The Husband in repentance, or the way to Paradise.”} Dom Felice instructs Fra Puccio how to attain blessedness by doing a penance. Fra Puccio does the penance, and meanwhile Dom Felice has a good time with Fra Puccio's wife. (pp. 85-102)

  • Nouvelle V. / Le Magnifique.” {“Story V. / The Magnificent.”} Zima gives a palfrey to Messer Francesco Vergellesi, who in return suffers him to speak with his wife. She keeping silence, he answers in her stead, and the sequel is in accordance with his answer. (pp. 103-123)

  • “Nouvelle VI. / La Feinte par Amour.” {“Story VI. / The Feint for Love.”} Ricciardo Minutolo loves the wife of Filippello Fighinolfi, and knowing her to be jealous, makes her believe that his own wife is to meet Filippello at a bagnio on the ensuing day; whereby she is induced to go thither, where, thinking to have been with her husband, she discovers that she has tarried with Ricciardo. (pp. 124-154)

  • “Nouvelle VII. / Le Qui-pro-quo, ou le Pélerin.” {“Story VII. / The Quid-pro-quo, or the Pilgrim.”} Tedaldo, being in disfavour with his lady, departs from Florence. He returns thither after a while in the guise of a pilgrim, has speech of his lady, and makes her sensible of her fault. Her husband, convicted of slaying him, he delivers from peril of death, reconciles him with his brothers, and thereafter discreetly enjoys his lady. (pp. 155-216)

  • “Nouvelle VIII. / Le Ressuscité.” {“Story VIII. / The Resurrection.”} Ferondo, having taken a certain powder, is interred for dead; is disinterred by the abbot, who enjoys his wife; is put in prison and taught to believe that he is in purgatory; is then resuscitated, and rears as his own a boy begotten by the abbot upon his wife. (pp. 217-250)

  • “Nouvelle IX. / La Femme courageuse.” {“Story IX. / The courageous Woman.”} Gillette of Narbonne cures the King of France of a fistula, craves for spouse Bertrand de Roussillon, who marries her against his will, and hies him in despite to Florence, where, as he courts a young woman, Gillette lies with him in her stead, and has two sons by him; for which cause he afterwards takes her into favour and entreats her as his wife. (pp. 251-280) [Sidenote: it was from this story, probably in an even earlier French translation of Boccaccio, that Shakespeare derived the plot for his comedy All's Well that Ends Well.]

  • “Nouvelle X. / La Caspienne, ou la Nouvelle Convertie.” {“Story X. / The Caspian, or the New Convert.”} Alibech turns hermit, and is taught by Rustico, a monk, how the Devil is put in hell. She is afterwards conveyed thence, and becomes the wife of Neerbale. (pp. 281-310)

At the foot of p. 310 is the following note:

Fin de la troisième Journée & du troisième Volume. {End of the third Day & of the third Book.}

Pages 311-312 provide the table of contents. There is an error at the end of the table, where Nouvelle IX is listed as beginning on p. 151 (it begins on 251) and Nouvelle X as beginning on p. 201 (it begins on 281). I suspect that this error was made by compositor confusion and not because of any problem in the printing process, though it may suggest that the table was printed without reference to the book itself (either before the rest of the book was printed or, more likely, after it had been printed but the compositor was moving on too quickly to proof his work at this point).

The translator/editor of the book was l’abbé Antoine Sabatier de Castres (1742-1817), who gave up a provincial career in the church in his hometown (the town of Castres, a relatively large population center in the rural Midi-Pyrénées region) and moved to Paris in 1766 to become a writer. In addition to translations, Sabatier wrote one novel (Betsi, ou le bisarreries du destin) published in 1769 and numerous controversial journalistic essays and commentaries. His translation of Decameron, along with his commentary annotation, was very popular and continued to be published long after his death and well into the twentieth century.