Monday, December 02, 2013
It Will Surely Mislead Librarians
From Ian Jackson:
I notice that David Petrain ends his interesting note on your posting on Filelfo with the remark, "It looks as if a new translation of Jovius's work has just appeared in the I Tatti Library".
Should one really have to say "It looks as if..." about a well-advertised publication from a major university press? But he is absolutely right to be cautious. Harvard, annoyingly, makes it difficult to tell what lurks behind their English titles. Most, of course are obvious, but surely they owe their readers a plain and prominent statement both in advertising and at the very beginning of each volume. The book to which Prof. Petrain refers, Kenneth Gouwens' Notable Men and Women of our Time (I Tatti Library, 2013) is in fact a translation of quite another work by Giovio, De Viris et Feminis aetate nostra florentibus, not that you'd necessarily discover this without having the book in hand. And even then, the usual easy path to an answer (a glance at the Library of Congress cataloguing-in-publication entry on the verso of the title-page) leads in the wrong direction. LC claims that this is an English translation of the very book under discussion, Giovio's Elogia doctorum virorum! Did they make this up themselves, or did Harvard misguide them? In either case, it will surely mislead librarians who really don't have the time (or means? or knowledge?) to investigate.
I forgot that I owned Franco Minonzio's edition and translation of Giovio's Elogi degli uomini illustri (Einaudi, 2006). He agrees (p.60) with Prof. Petrain’s reading:
gli negasti di poter salvare la barba pagando la stessa somma di denaro
you refused to allow him to preserve his beard by paying the same amount of money
Perhaps, however, Gragg has simply expressed herself clumsily and elliptically. Petrain asks "Why would Philelphus buy a beard?" but if we take her first "you" to mean Filelfo and her second to mean "one" or "someone," it accords with the versions of both Petrain and Minozio:
You won, and declaring that [a person] could not buy a beard for the amount of the wager...