Ljudje s črnimi prsti (The black-fingered people)
Non-textual elements of a 16th-century printed book as a historical source
dr. Igor Presl
The dissertation evaluates non-textual elements of a hand-printed book as a primary historical source and presents them systematically through a bibliographic analysis of 16th-century books preserved at the Piran Maritime Museum. The basic methodological premise is the complementariness of disciplines traditionally identified with Anglo-American bibliography and French social history. By applying natural science methods, bibliography wished to provide textual criticism with a reliable tool for the preparation of critical editions of English and American literature. The selection of the most auctorial text would thus not depend on an editor’s own will and taste, but would be left to an “objective” science. The history of the book, typical of the Annales School and its periphery, on the other hand, wanted to determine the influence of printed communication on social changes. Through methods of natural science it, too, would be guaranteed scientific objectivity, independent of human error and whims. Bibliography, particularly its analytical part, wanted to see the physical book as a primary source for discovering original auctorial texts, but book history did not trust this physicality and considered archival sources as primary.
The complementariness of analytical bibliography and history of the book – i. e., acknowledgment of the equal merit of the two sources – has made it possible for a case study to identify, by means of bibliographic analysis and supported by archival sources, an anonymous printer dating from the first half of the 16th century, who printed books written by the Italian humanist, diplomat and linguistic reformer G. G. Trissino and hid behind the alias of Tolomeo Ianiculo.
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