Very Good. Item #7498
Boston: S.R. Urbino / Schönhoff and Möller, 1870. Octavo; 615pp + 12pp of notes + 3pp of publisher's advertisements. In Schönhoff and Möller bookseller binding of blue-gray percaline, with gilt spine lettering and seller's medallion in gilt on front panel; blind-stamped borders on both panels. Main text entirely in Italian.
Spine slightly faded; crown and foot of spine, and spine vertical edges, slightly frayed with minor tears. Panel corners minimally bumped and abraded. Joints and hinges open easily but remain solid. Previous owner's signature on front pastedown. Some pencil mark-ups (seemingly by a teacher) in the first 90 pages; remainder of the textblock unmarked.
The twelve pages of appended notes, separately paginated, offer explanations of Italian dialectal idioms and cultural habits that would not necessarily be familiar to the Italian immigrant population of New England.
Inherently interesting edition embodies part of the American history of publication for 19th-century Italian audiences on the East Coast. The text was published by S.R. Urbino in 1870, a Boston publisher specializing in foreign-language editions for immigrant and pedagogical audiences. Urbino’s textblock was then bound by Schönhoff and Möller, Urbino’s neighboring bookshop in Boston. Schönhoff and Möller specialized, likewise, in American distribution of European books. Schönhoff and Möller was the ancestor of the celebrated Schoenhof’s bookstore in the Harvard community, which continued, as a brick-and-mortar store, to specialize in European book imports through 2017, when it closed its physical doors to continue solely as a virtual store.
But published in Milan or Boston, in Italian or English, this is a great novel, and its climactic depiction of the creeping arrival of the 1630 plague in Milan makes both Defoe and Camus look jejune. Not to mention 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.