Favole Scelte

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Nickisch, Balthasar
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Here is the top prize of the books I found on this summer trip around Europe. We had an overnight in Trier. I got to the bookstore in the afternoon, and Dr. Jochen Staebel mentioned that he had a fine old book at home. We arranged that I would be back when he opened the next morning. The book belonged to the head of the public library in Trier. It is missing pages 1-2 and so does not have the first part of the first fable. The book seems to be a printing 5 years later of Bodemann #88.4, itself a reprinting of a Krauss edition of 1707. The edition -- even the title -- is trilingual. The three languages are side by side for the fables but consecutive in the pages before the fables. Illustrations -- with titles in all three languages -- come two to a page and measure about 3" x 2 1/2". There are 95 fables on 106 pages. Picture pages are not printed on the obverse and do not figure in the pagination. According to Bodemann, the illustrations are based on #88.1 from 1695. Where Bodemann's #88.4 has a frontispiece that sounds like the same as in #88.1, the frontispiece here is an elaborate scene situated on a pedestal. Under the pedestal and on its front are scripts very difficult to read. Vegetation grows up on both sides of the scene seated on the pedestal, offering various perches for birds and other animals, presumably characters in fables. The viewer sees into a long background of waters, mountains, forests, and human habitation. At the front of this scene, two human characters converse, surrounded by further animals including two mice at the front of the scene. An apparently older character seated on the left reaches a hand in explanation. Similarly the standing character on the right reaches out his right hand, while his left hand balances what seems to be some kind of spear or perhaps a pruning hook. I cannot find a similar frontispiece illustration in Bodemann. For good samples of the fable illustrations here, consider "The Man and the Satyr" facing 16, OF facing 28, and DS facing 40.
Johann Ulrich Krauss
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