Renaissance and Reformation Pietro Bembo
by
Craig Kallendorf
  • LAST REVIEWED: 03 March 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0321

Introduction

Pietro Bembo (b. 1470–d. 1547) was born into an aristocratic Venetian family, one in which his father Bernardo ensured that he received an excellent humanistic education. His earliest works were grounded in his knowledge of Latin and Greek, but, in conjunction with Aldus Manutius, one of the most famous scholar-printers of his day, he developed an interest in the vernacular that had also been initiated by his father. Resident for a time at the courts of Ferrara and Urbino, Bembo eventually made his way to Rome, where he served first as Latin secretary to Pope Leo X, then as a cardinal. Bembo’s name today evokes many associations, from the typeface that was named after him to the famous portrait by Titian, but he is best known for his role in fixing the norms of a literary version of Italian that was modelled on the poetry of Petrarch and the prose of Boccaccio. For this he receives due notice in every history of the Italian language and literature, which has led to the dominant vision of him as a sort of high-level schoolmaster intent on enforcing linguistic purity. Another narrative, based on his relationships with Lucrezia Borgia and Maria Savorgnan, presents Bembo through a sort of romanticized haze. There is some truth to both of these visions, but neither is adequate by itself. Bembo was the scion of a distinguished family, but he struggled to find his place in the world, ending up in a position of power within a religious institution for which he probably had little genuine calling. This article gives due recognition to the classic works of scholarship, but, wherever possible, it reflects an emphasis on the fuller, more nuanced picture of Bembo that has been emerging in recent years.

Biography

Although accurate basic information on the life and works of Bembo is available in several sources, no major Bembo scholar in the last several generations has done a book-length biography. Dionisotti 1966, supplemented by Mazzacurati 1980 and Vecce 1997, presents the basics, with Cian 1885 offering important information for the period the author considers. Cian 1926 and Santoro 1937 are outdated in their approach but still contain valuable material. Kidwell 2004 and Meneghetti 1961 are worth consulting but must be used with care; they are generally not cited by serious scholars in Italy.

  • Cian, Vittorio. Un decennio della vita di M. Pietro Bembo, 1521–1531. Turin, Italy: Loescher, 1885.

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    An important intellectual biography of Bembo covering the decade in which a number of his most important works were composed, still cited regularly after more than a century. Rpt. (Bologna: Forni, 1982); also available online.

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  • Cian, Vittorio. “Pietro Bembo: Quarantun anno dopo.” Giornale storico della letteratura italiana 88 (1926): 225–255.

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    An overview of the life, works, and character of Bembo, rooted in the sort of humanist hagiography that is sometimes found in Italian scholarship of a century ago, but a still-cited, representative publication of one of the leading Bembo scholars of his generation.

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  • Dionisotti, Carlo. “Pietro Bembo.” Dizionario biografico degli Italiani 8 (1966): 133–151.

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    Now fifty years old, but still the standard treatement of Bembo’s life and works by one of the great Bembo scholars of the 20th century, always cited in lieu of a worthy book-length treatment. Especially valuable for earlier bibliography.

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  • Kidwell, Carol. Pietro Bembo: Lover, Linguist, Cardinal. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004.

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    A readable, generously illustrated intellectual biography that marches the reader enthusiastically through what can be gleaned from the surviving evidence, but without the depth of scholarly analysis that would allow the book to be taken seriously by Italian scholars who are familiar with the same sources.

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  • Mazzacurati, Giancarlo. “Pietro Bembo.” In Storia della cultura veneta: Dal primo Quattrocento al Concilio di Trento. Vol. 4. Edited by Gianfranco Folena, 1–59. Venice: N. Pozza, 1980.

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    A lengthy study of Bembo’s life and works within the context of his native Venetian culture during the Early Modern period, by a recognized authority.

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  • Meneghetti, Gildo. La vita avventurosa di Pietro Bembo, umanista, poeta, cortigiano. Venice: Tipografia commerciale, 1961.

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    A florid, often romantic, biography, generally accurate and containing a number of relevant documents in an appendix, but a sparsely annotated throwback to an earlier age of scholarship.

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  • Santoro, Mario. Pietro Bembo. Naples, Italy: Alberto Morano, 1937.

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    An intellectual biography in the Italian tradition, beginning with an account of Bembo’s life and moving to a treatment of his literary works. A valiant effort to move beyond the stereotype of Bembo as dictator of style but inevitably a bit dated.

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  • Vecce, Carlo. “Pietro Bembo.” In Centuriæ Latinæ: Cent une figures humanistes de la Renaissance aux Lumières offertes à Jacques Chomarat. Edited by Colette Nativel, 97–107. Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance 314. Geneva, Switzerland: Librairie Droz, 1997.

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    A valuable short treatment of Bembo’s life and works by a recognized expert, to be used with Dionisotti 1966, which it updates. Contains a valuable, but sometimes quirky, bibliography.

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Bibliography

Since a great deal has been written about Bembo over the years, Pecoraro 1963 and Perocco 1985 are useful for accessing older scholarship. See also Dionisotti 1966, Mazzacurati 1980, and Vecce 1997 (cited under Biography).

Manuscripts and Textual Transmission

Since Bembo was a popular author in his own day, a good many manuscripts of his works survive; many of them are autographs, allowing us to follow the process of revision in an author for whom things such as orthography and dialect variations are very important. Richardson 2007 demonstrates the significance of the physical book in Bembo’s self-presentation, while the other citations in this section suggest how complicated the textual tradition is for several key works: Pecoraro 1959 and Dionisotti 1965 treat the Latin poems; Vela 1981 and Gnocchi 2002 consider the Rime; and Travi 1972 sorts through the manuscripts of Bembo’s letters. Sherberg 2006 and Sorella 2007 both study the Torrentino edition of the Prose della volgar lingua with an eye on its place in the history of the text.

  • Dionisotti, Carlo. “Appunti sul Bembo, II: Per la storia del Carminum libellus.” Italia medioevale e umanistica 8 (1965): 278–291.

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    An analysis of the textual transmission of Bembo’s Latin poetry collection that takes up again the points made by Dionisotti in his review of Pecoraro 1959 (Giornale storico della letteratura italiana 138 (1961): 573–592) to analyze the textual witnesses differently from what Pecoraro had done.

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  • Gnocchi, Alessandro. “Un manoscritto delle Rime di Pietro Bembo (Ms. L. 1347–1957, KRP.A. 19 del Victoria and Albert Museum di Londra).” Studi di filologia italiana 60 (2002): 217–236.

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    A careful study of an early manuscript of Bembo’s poems, serving as a recent statement of where things stand in the effort to unravel the complicated textual history of the Rime.

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  • Pecoraro, Marco. Per la storia dei carmi del Bembo. Civiltà veneziana, Saggi 6. Venice: Istituto per la Collaborazione Culturale, 1959.

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    Argues on the basis of Padua, Biblioteca Antoniana, Ms. 655 that a first edition of Bembo’s Latin poems was established by 1513 and that the version published in Venice by G. Scotto in 1552–1553 does not reflect the intentions of Bembo but rather the interventions of his literary executors or publisher.

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  • Richardson, Brian. “The Diffusion of Literature in Renaissance Italy: The Case of Pietro Bembo.” In Literary Cultures and the Material Book. Edited by Simon Eliot, Andrew Nash, and Ian Willison, 175–189. London: British Library, 2007.

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    Shows how Bembo used the physical book, in both manuscript and printed form, to further his literary program and to fashion a self that would advance his own career. An interesting effort to join book history and literary history by an expert in both fields.

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  • Sherberg, Michael. “La torrentiniana delle Prose della volgar lingua: Un contributo di bibliografia testuale.” Filologia critica 31 (2006): 177–199.

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    A careful study of thirty-eight copies of the Torrentino edition of the Prose della volgar lingua, leading to the conclusion that this edition indeed contains some improvements to the text but that it has to be used with caution.

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  • Sorella, Antonio. “Varchi e Bembo.” In Benedetto Varchi, 1503–1565. Edited by Vanni Bramanti, 377–402. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2007.

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    An interesting study of the variants introduced by Benedetto Varchi as editor in the Torrentino edition of Bembo’s Prose della volgar lingua, within the context of the linguistic and ideological principles of 16th-century Florence as they shaped the development of the Italian vernacular.

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  • Travi, Ernesto. “Pietro Bembo ed il suo epistolario.” Lettere italiane 24 (1972): 277–309.

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    A preliminary study for an edition of Bembo’s private letters (Travi 1987–1993, cited under Correspondence), with a survey of the manuscripts and a discussion of the editorial problems that are involved in dealing with a massive number of letters, some not yet edited, with others published according to varying standards over hundreds of years.

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  • Vela, Claudio. “Un manoscritto bolognese di rime di Pietro Bembo.” Studi di filologia italiana 39 (1981): 121–157.

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    A detailed study of Bologna, Biblioteca universitaria, ms. 251, a previously neglected manuscript of the Rime that shows how the text was revised between 1501 and the publication of the first edition of the poems in 1530.

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Texts

Bembo began seeing his own works through the press when he was still in his twenties, and editions of his main works were in print and sold well during his lifetime. He continued editing his works throughout his life, and at his death he charged his literary executors to prepare a complete, definitive edition, which appeared in parts in Rome, Florence, and Venice. Editions continued to multiply through the 18th and early 19th centuries, with few important changes until critical editions prepared according to modern editorial principles began appearing in the 20th century.

Collected Works

Bembo is unusual among the Italian writers of his period in that his works are most commonly cited not from a critical edition but from Bembo 1966. Marti 1961 is sometimes used by scholars who prefer a critical edition, while Bembo 1729 continues to appear in bibliographies of Bembo’s works.

  • Bembo, Pietro. Opere. 4 vols. Edited by Anton Federico Seghezzi. Venice: Francesco Hertzhauser, 1729.

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    A collected edition of Bembo’s works, mostly superseded by modern critical editions but still cited occasionally. Reprinted in facsimile (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Gregg, 1965).

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  • Bembo, Pietro. Prose e rime. Edited by Carlo Dionisotti. 2d expanded ed. Classici italiani, Collezione Fondata da Ferdinando Neri 26. Turin, Italy: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1966.

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    Contains the Prose della volgar lingua, Gli Asolani, and Rime, lightly corrected from the posthumous 16th-century editions prepared according to Bembo’s final directions, with a valuable introduction and notes. The most commonly cited edition of these works. Rpt. of 1960 edition, with the expanded edition reprinted in 1971 and 1989.

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  • Marti, Mario, ed. Pietro Bembo: Opere in volgare. I classici italiani. Florence: Sansoni, 1961.

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    A good critical edition of the major vernacular works with concise but helpful introductory material and a good bibliography of earlier publications on Bembo.

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Correspondence

Bembo’s letters, written in both Latin and Italian, are unusually interesting and have attracted several editions. Travi 1987–1993 offers a complete version, and Bembo and Borgia 2007 and Savorgnan and Bembo 1950 present the epistolary records of Bembo’s poeticized romances.

  • Bembo, Pietro, and Lucrezia Borgia. La grande fiamma: Lettere, 1503–1517. Edited by Giulia Raboni. Milan: Rosellina Arcinto, 2007.

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    Originally published in 1989. Contains forty letters from Bembo to Lucrezia Borgia, and from her to him, with enough notes to facilitate a first reading of the correspondence chronicling their relationship and an introduction that speculates on the editorial vicissitudes of a potentially embarrassing literary exchange.

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  • Savorgnan, Maria, and Pietro Bembo. Carteggio d’amore, 1500–1501. Edited by Carlo Dionisotti. Biblioteca rara, Collezione di testi inediti o poco noti dei secoli XII–XIX. Florence: F. Le Monnier, 1950.

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    A collection of letters exchanged between Bembo and Maria Savorgnan, with whom he had an amorous relationship at the beginning of the 16th century.

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  • Travi, Ernesto, ed. Pietro Bembo, Lettere. 4 vols. Collezione di opere inedite o rare, 141, 143, 146, 147. Bologna, Italy: Commissione per i Testi di Lingua, 1987–1993.

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    A meticulously prepared critical edition, many years in the making, of Bembo’s letters, with a lengthy introduction that provides information on the many manuscripts and early printed editions.

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Individual Latin Works

Bembo’s Latin compositions were not even included in the twelve-volume edition of his works published in Milan as part of the Classici italiani (1808–1810), but recent scholarship recognizes their importance in forming a complete picture of Bembo’s intellectual activity. Bembo 1990 is the standard edition of the Latin poems, while Santangelo 1954 presents a critical edition of Bembo’s key work on imitation, and Bembo 1994 makes available the text of a seldom-read epyllion. Donadi 2016 and Travi 1996 remind us that Greek texts were disseminated in Renaissance Europe through Latin translations, while Bembo 1981 is a “coffee-table book” that will give pleasure to anyone interested in Bembo, and Gönna 2015 presents a more scholarly edition of the same text.

  • Bembo, Pietro. De Aetna. Translated by Vittorio Enzo Alfieri. Annotated by Marcello Carapezza and Leonardo Sciascia. Palermo, Italy: Sellerio, 1981.

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    Text (taken from the Aldine edition) with translation into Italian of Bembo’s youthful humanistic work on the ascent of Mt. Etna, followed by twenty-five illustrations in color and fifty-nine in black and white that function as an iconography of the work.

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  • Bembo, Pietro. Carmina. Edited by Rossana Sodano. Parthenias 1. Turin, Italy: RES, 1990.

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    An edition of Bembo’s Latin poems that reproduces the first printed edition (Venice: G. Scotto, 1553), with variants from an earlier version of the poems, works excluded by Bembo from the printed edition, and poems of uncertain authorship included in appendixes.

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  • Bembo, Pietro. Sarca. Edited by Otto Schönberger. Würzburg, Germany: Königshausen & Neumann, 1994.

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    A transcription from Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Ms. Vindobonensis 9977 of Bembo’s short mythological epic in Latin, a good representative of his humanistic work that remains less well known than his writings in Italian.

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  • Donadi, Francesco, ed. Gorgias Helenae Encomium. Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana BT 2019. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016.

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    A critical edition, in the definitive Teubner series, of Bembo’s Latin translation of Gorgias’s Encomium to Helen, an effort to make a key text in the Greek rhetorical tradition accessible to a wider public in Renaissance Europe. Contains a new text that replaces Donadi’s Gorgias Helenae Encomium. Translated by Pietro Bembo (Rome: “L’Erma” de Bretschneider, 1983).

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  • Gönna, Gerd von der, ed. and trans. Pietro Bembo, De Aetna liber: lateinisch – deutsch. Würzburg, Germany: Königshausen und Neumann, 2015.

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    A Latin text, with German translation and notes, of Bembo’s account of the ascent of Mt. Etna that he made as a youth, a work that has been attracting increased critical attention of late.

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  • Santangelo, Giorgio, ed. Le epistole “De imitatione” di Giovanfrancesco Pico della Mirandola e di Pietro Bembo. Nuova collezione di testi umanistici inediti o rari 11. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1954.

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    Contains the texts of three letters between Bembo and Pico on the proper role of Cicero in stylistic imitation. The generally cited text for these important letters.

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  • Travi, Ernesto. “Pietro Bembo traduttore dell’Elogio di Elena di Gorgia da Leontini.” Studi e problemi di critica testuale 53 (1996): 93–104.

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    A transcription from Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, II VII 125 of Bembo’s translation of Gorgias’s encomium in praise of Helen, along with a lengthy introduction that explains the importance of this work for the appreciation of Bembo’s interests in rhetoric and in Greek.

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Individual Works of Prose in Italian

Dilemmi 1991 offers a good critical edition of Bembo’s early dialogue on love, while Lutz 1980 presents an Italian translation prepared by Bembo himself of one of his minor Latin texts. Vela 2001 and Tavosanis 2002 demonstrate well the difficulties involved in preparing a critical edition by using the same evidence to come to opposite conclusions in these editions of the Prose della volgar lingua.

  • Dilemmi, Giorgio, ed. Pietro Bembo, Gli Asolani. Scrittori italiani e testi antichi. Florence: Accademia della Crusca, 1991.

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    A meticulously prepared critical edition of Bembo’s youthful dialogue on love, with a lengthy introduction that traces the evolution of the text in its successive iterations.

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  • Lutz, Maria, ed. Volgarizzamento des dialogs de Guido Ubaldo Feretrio deque Elisabetha Gonzaga Urbini ducibus. Geneva, Switzerland: Librairie Droz, 1980.

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    A critical edition of the Italian version of Bembo’s dialogue on Guidobaldo da Montefeltro and Elisabetta Gonzaga, duke and duchess of Urbino. Contains an introduction with a valuable analysis of the spelling practices of a text that was corrected by Bembo himself.

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  • Tavosanis, Mirko, ed. La prima stesura delle Prose della volgar lingua: Fonti e correzioni, con edizione del testo. Studi e testi di letteratura italiana 2. Pisa, Italy: ETS, 2002.

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    A critical edition that deals with the same material as Vela 2001 but is based on the autograph manuscript (Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 3210), supplemented by a careful presentation of sources and editorial interventions.

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  • Vela, Claudio, ed. Pietro Bembo, Prose della volgar lingua: L’editio princeps del 1525 riscontrata con l’autografo Vaticano latino 3210. Testi e studi di filologia e letteratura 5. Bologna, Italy: CLUEB, 2001.

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    An interesting critical edition of the Prose della volgar lingua in which the first printed edition of 1525 is placed in conjunction with the autograph manuscript (Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 3210) to show how Bembo worked out the rules for his classicizing Latin style while preparing the treatise that presented these rules.

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Individual Works of Poetry in Italian

Donnini 2008 and Vela 1988 offer a critical edition of the most important work in this category, the Rime. Bembo 2007 presents a youthful text, while Gnocchi 2003 contains a group of occasional poems that remain well worth reading.

  • Bembo, Pietro. Motti inediti e sconosciuti. Edited by Vittorio Cian. Il banco dei rari 2. Milan: Sylvestre Bonnard, 2007.

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    An edition of a youthful poem in Italian that reproduces the original edition by Vittorio Cian (Venice: Tipografia dell’Ancora, 1888) with added material that explains the importance of the text and places Cian’s edition into the history of scholarship on the poem.

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  • Donnini, Andrea, ed. Le rime. 2 vols. Testi e documenti di letteratura e di lingua 28. Rome: Salerno Editrice, 2008.

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    A critical edition based on a comprehensive review of the manuscripts and early printed editions, including doubtful and spurious poems along with an extensive commentary and an apparatus that allows the reader to trace the evolution of the poems.

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  • Gnocchi, Alessandro, ed. Pietro Bembo: Stanze. Centro di studi “Aldo Palazzeschi,” Università degli studi di Firenze, Facoltà di lettere e filosofia, Quaderni Aldo Palazzeschi, Nuova serie 4. Florence: Società Editrice Fiorentina, 2003.

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    A critical edition of the fifty poems originally composed by Bembo for Duchess Elisabetta Gonzaga during a carnival celebration at the court of Urbino, with a 150-page introduction that unravels the complicated publication history of this text.

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  • Vela, Claudio. “Il primo canzoniere del Bembo (ms. Marc. It. IX. 143).” Studi di filologia italiana 46 (1988): 163–251.

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    A critical edition of the Rime, based on Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, It. IX 143 (=6993), the earliest redaction of the collection, representing Bembo’s initial vision for the ordering of the poems.

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Translations into English

English translations of Bembo’s works have appeared slowly, with Bembo 1954 and Scott 1991 (originally published in 1910) being the only major examples to have appeared until the end of the last century. At that point Bembo and Borgia 1987 brought some of the more titillating material to English-speaking readers, with the I Tatti Renaissance Library adding two major editions (Bembo 2005 and Bembo 2007–2009) and Wilson 2003 and Bembo 2015 contributing two engaging novelty items.

  • Bembo, Pietro. Gli Asolani. Translated by Rudolf Brand Gottfried. Indiana University Publications, Humanities Series 31. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1954.

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    A somewhat formal, occasionally free translation, readable and clear, of Bembo’s early dialogue on love. The first translation into English of the complete work.

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  • Bembo, Pietro. Lyric Poetry: Etna. Edited and translated by Mary P. Chatfield. I Tatti Renaissance Library 18. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Library, 2005.

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    An edition of Bembo’s Latin poems (Carminum libellus) and his youthful dialogue on the ascent of Mt. Etna, containing texts based on the first editions in the Renaissance along with English translations.

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  • Bembo, Pietro. History of Venice. 3 vols. Edited and translated by Robert W. Ulery. I Tatti Renaissance Library 28, 32, 37. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007–2009.

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    Latin text and English translation of the History of Venice prepared by Bembo as official historian of the city, covering the events from 1487 to 1513, including both internal politics and Venice’s conflicts with other European states.

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  • Bembo, Pietro. Stanzas. Translated by David R. Slavitt. Austin, TX: Michele Miracolo, 2015.

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    A translation with Italian text of a 50-stanza poem composed as part of the carnival festivities for the court of Urbino in 1507. A fine press production, rendered into English by a distinguished translator, printed in 100 copies only but easily available through interlibrary loan.

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  • Bembo, Pietro, and Lucrezia Borgia. The Prettiest Love Letters in the World: Letters between Lucrezia Borgia and Pietro Bembo, 1503–1519. Translated by Hugh Shankland. Illustrated by Richard Shirley Smith. Boston: David R. Godine, 1987.

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    A collection from various sources of the letters between Bembo and Lucrezia Borgia, which began with their affair in 1503 and continued after their passion subsided in 1505 until the end of her life.

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  • Scott, Izora. Controversies over the Imitation of Cicero in the Renaissance, with Translations of Letters between Pietro Bembo and Gianfrancesco Pico On Imitation and a Translation of Desiderius Erasmus, The Ciceronian (Ciceronianus). Davis, CA: Hermagoras, 1991.

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    Places Bembo’s letters on using Cicero as a model for prose composition into the broader controversy over this issue that extended to Erasmus’s Ciceronianus and the responses to it, and the later publications of Petrus Ramus and Marc Antoine Muret. Rpt. (New York: Teachers College of Columbia University, 1910).

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  • Wilson, Nigel Guy, ed. Pietro Bembo, Oratio pro litteris graecis. Quaderni di filologia medioevale e umanistica 5. Messina, Italy: Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi Umanistici, 2003.

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    Critical edition with English translation of a remarkable text, Bembo’s plea for greater support of Greek studies, written in a more-than-passable Greek by the twenty-three-year-old Bembo.

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General Works on Bembo

Beltramini, et al. 2013 offers the reader who is comfortable with Italian a marvelous, up-to-date overview of Bembo and his works, while Dionisotti 2002 presents a collection of essays that together can serve as a good introduction to the important scholarly questions. Dionisotti 1967, Floriani 1976, and Floriani 1981 present general assessments of Bembo’s importance from different perspectives. Mazzacurati 1967 places Bembo’s well-known concern with style into its larger intellectual context, while Travi 1978 and Finotti 2004 approach how Bembo made sense of the world around him.

  • Beltramini, Guido, Davide Gasparotto, and Adolfo Tura, eds. Pietro Bembo e l’invenzione del Rinascimento. Exhibition catalogue. Venice: Marsilio, 2013.

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    A spectacular catalogue, beautifully illustrated with lengthy, learned descriptions of the objects exposed in an exhibition mounted in Padua in 2013 about Bembo’s life, times, and works. An essential starting place for the study of Bembo.

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  • Dionisotti, Carlo. “Pietro Bembo e la nuova letteratura.” In Rinascimento europeo e rinascimento veneziano. Edited by Vittore Branca, 47–59. Florence: Sansoni, 1967.

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    A magisterial overview by one of the century’s great Bembo scholars, emphasizing the importance of language in Bembo’s view of literature and placing his drive toward linguistic regularization into the broader flow of his life and work.

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  • Dionisotti, Carlo. Scritti sul Bembo. Edited by Claudio Vela. Biblioteca Einaudi, 145. Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 2002.

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    Contains a generous selection of essays on a variety of relevant subjects written originally between 1950 and 1981 by Dionisotti, one of the great Bembo specialists of the late 20th century.

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  • Finotti, Fabio. “Eloquenza ed esperienza dal De Aetna agli Asolani: Il classicismo edonistico del Bembo.” In Retorica della diffrazione: Bembo, Aretino, Giulio Romano e Tasso; Letteratura e scena cortigiana. Edited by Fabio Finotti, 7–78. Biblioteca de “Lettere italiane,” Studi e testi 63. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 2004.

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    Develops the concept of a “rhetoric of diffraction” to place Bembo’s lyrics not within Neoplatonism, but within a “hedonistic classicism” that anchors the poems in the licentious satire of northern Italy. Includes an edition of Bembo’s Latin juvenilia, with an Italian translation.

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  • Floriani, Piero. Bembo e Castiglione: Studi sul classicismo del Cinquecento. L’analisi letteraria, proposte e letture critiche 15. Rome: Bulzoni, 1976.

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    Places two previously published essays on Bembo’s youthful humanistic studies and his first approaches to Petrarchism into a larger context that links Bembo to Castiglione through a concern with classicism in a courtly environment. Frequently cited.

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  • Floriani, Piero. I gentiluomini letterati: Studi sul dibattito culturale nel primo Cinquecento. Le forme del Significato 29. Naples, Italy: Liguori, 1981.

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    Examines Bembo as part of a group of educated intellectuals that includes Castiglione, Valeriano, Trissino, and Speroni, “gentlemen” who used the dialogue form to open up a space for debate in 16th-century culture.

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  • Mazzacurati, Giancarlo. “Pietro Bembo e la barriera degli esemplari.” In Misure del classicismo rinascimentale. Edited by Giancarlo Mazzacurati, 133–220. Collana di testi e di critica 12. Naples, Italy: Liguori, 1967.

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    A valuable effort to provide a broader context for Bembo’s stylistic concerns in the vernacular, treating his ideas about the relationship of art and nature and his efforts to fuse Ciceronianism with Neoplatonism.

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  • Travi, Ernesto. “Pietro Bembo tra letteratura e scienza.” In Letteratura e scienza nella storia della cultura italiana: Atti del IX congreso A.I.S.L.L.I., Palermo-Messina-Catania, 21–25 aprile 1976. Edited by Vittore Branca, 414–428. Palermo, Italy: Manfredi, 1978.

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    An interesting essay that shows how Bembo, without abandoning a literary-based interest in theory, developed throughout his life an increasing practical concern for the sciences.

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Humanism

Thanks to his father Bernardo, Bembo received an excellent humanist education, a topic that is attracting greater attention recently than it had in the past. Campanelli 1997 explores humanistic themes in one of Bembo’s Latin compositions, while Ribuoli 1981, Grant 1988, and Grant 1992 begin from the work Bembo did on his famous manuscript of Terence and explore how well he had actually learned such fundamental humanist skills as textual criticism. Nicosia 2014, Rosada 1997, and Tateo 1983 explore various aspects of Bembo’s study of Greek, a language in which he attained greater facility than many other humanists of his day.

  • Campanelli, Maurizio. “Pietro Bembo, Roma e la filologia del tardo Quattrocento: Per una lettura del dialogo De Virgilii Culice et Terentii fabulis.” Rinascimento 37 (1997): 283–319.

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    Interprets Bembo’s dialogue as an important vehicle that links Bembo to the humanistic culture of late-15th-century Rome, in which themes such as humanism as a profession and manuscript versus print culture were developed around appealing portraits of the two key protagonists, Pomponio Leto and Ermolao Barbaro.

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  • Grant, John N. “Pietro Bembo and Vat. Lat. 3226.” Humanistica Lovaniensia 37 (1988): 211–243.

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    Examines Bembo’s use of his prized manuscripts of Terence and Virgil in his De Virgilii Culice et Terentii fabulis, with an eye on both his accomplishments and his shortcomings in transcription and textual criticism.

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  • Grant, John N. “Pietro Bembo as a Textual Critic of Classical Latin Poetry: Variae lectiones and the Text of the Culex.” Italia medioevale e umanistica 35 (1992): 253–304.

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    An extension of Grant 1988, emphasizing Bembo’s careful concern for collation using his manuscript of Terence and his recognition of the need for conjecture with the Culex. Although Grant notes that he is more intemperate in the latter area than a modern editor would be, he acknowledges Bembo’s evident linguistic skills.

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  • Nicosia, Roberto. “Alla scuola di Omero: Costantino Lascaris e la traduzione latina dell’Odissea nel De Aetna di Pietro Bembo.” I Tatti Studies: Essays in the Renaissance 17.2 (2014): 303–324.

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    Examines a Homeric passage inserted into De Aetna within the context of Bembo’s early Greek studies and the Homeric scholarship of late-15th-century Greece. An immensely learned article with a rich bibliography.

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  • Ribuoli, Riccardo. La collazione polizianea del codice bembino di Terenzio: Con le postille inedite del Poliziano e note su Pietro Bembo. Note e discussion erudite 17. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1981.

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    A study of Poliziano’s scholarly work on the manuscript of Terence previously owned by Bembo but with valuable observations along the way on Bembo’s place within the tradition of scholarly work on this important manuscript.

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  • Rosada, Roberta A. “‘Grecolo tuto’: Appunti sulla formazione umanistica greca del giovane Pietro Bembo.” In Tra commediografi e letterati: Rinascimento e Settecento veneziano. Edited by Tiziana Agostini and Emilio Lippi, 43–60. Ravenna, Italy: Longo, 1997.

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    A leisurely overview of Bembo’s early training in Greek, beginning with Constantine Lascaris and reflected in his De Aetna, situated within the broader context of Greek study in Renaissance Italy.

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  • Tateo, Francesco. “La ‘bella scrittura’ del Bembo e l’Ermogene del Trapezunzio.” In Miscellanea di studi in onore di Vittore Branca. Vol. 3, Pt. 2. By Francesco Tateo, 717–732. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1983.

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    Argues that Bembo’s ideas about a desirable style as developed in the Prose della volgar lingua were influenced by Hermogenes and by George of Trebizond, rhetoricians whom he would have encountered during his youthful studies in classical Greek.

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Bembo’s Library

As Clough 1984 shows, Bembo inherited a fine library from his father, to which he added as he was able. Danzi 2005 is the definitive study of this library, with Danzi 2006 elaborating on how the library was ordered and Danzi 1996 discussing its surprising strength in Hebrew books. Eiche 1983 discusses the dispersal of the library, with Clough 1971 offering an overview of the entire history of the collection. Pulsoni 1999 suggests one of the ways in which knowledge of Bembo’s library can lead to a better appreciation of his ideas.

  • Clough, Cecil H. Pietro Bembo’s Library as Represented Particularly in the British Museum. Rev. ed. London: British Museum, 1971.

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    A misleadingly titled study that actually gives a good, concise overview of the formation and dispersal of the Bembo family library, with some observations on material that ended up in England.

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  • Clough, Cecil H. “The Library of Bernardo and of Pietro Bembo.” The Book Collector 33 (1984): 305–331.

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    A detailed listing of manuscripts collected by Pietro’s father Bernardo and passed down to him; lacking Bernardo’s resources, Pietro’s contribution was centered for the most part on his own literary papers.

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  • Danzi, Massimo. “Cultura ebraica di Pietro Bembo.” In Per Cesare Bozzetti: Studi de letteratura e filologia italiana. Edited by Simone Albonico, 283–307. Milan: Fondazione Arnoldo e Alberto Mondadori, 1996.

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    An interesting study of the most unexpected section of Bembo’s library, his Hebrew books, beginning with an overview and ending with a list of the individual Hebrew texts owned by Bembo, with as much information about each as Danzi was able to reconstruct.

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  • Danzi, Massimo. La biblioteca del Cardinal Pietro Bembo. Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance 394. Geneva, Switzerland: Librairie Droz, 2005.

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    The definitive study of Bembo’s library, with a detailed description of each book placed within a larger overview of the organization and importance of the collection.

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  • Danzi, Massimo. “Ordre des livres et stratification de l’antique dans la bibliothèque de Pietro Bembo, 1545.” In D’une antiquité à l’autre: La littérature antique classique dans les bibliothèques du XVe au XIXe siècle. Edited by Catherine Volpilhac-Auger, 63–78. Lyon, France: ENS, 2006.

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    After surveying the formation and dispersal of Bembo’s library, Danzi shows that it was divided into four sections that reflect an ordering principle of his day, not ours: printed books, Hebrew texts, books with marginal notes, and texts in the vernacular.

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  • Eiche, Sabine. “On the Dispersal of Cardinal Bembo’s Collections.” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Instituts in Florenz 27 (1983): 353–359.

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    A brief but valuable overview of the dispersal of the items from the museum, picture gallery, and library of Bembo’s house in Padua, a collection that was famous in its day but was sold off, contrary to his wishes, by several generations of his heirs.

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  • Pulsoni, Carlo. “Per la ricostruzione della biblioteca bembiana, I: I libri di Dante.” Critica del testo 2 (1999): 735–749.

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    A study not of the manuscripts actually owned by Bembo but of the textual tradition in which these manuscripts participated, as both a contribution toward the reconstruction of Bembo’s library and a way of clarifying his judgments about the language that Dante had actually used.

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Latin Writings

Of Bembo’s writings in Latin, his account of his ascent of Mt. Etna continues to attract the most interest, with Müller 2002 focusing on the content, Mariana 1991 interested more in the text, and Bühler 1951 concerned with the book as an example of early printing practices. The dialogue on the duke and duchess of Urbino has also attracted attention, with D’Ascia 1989 exploring the social setting and D’Ettore 1991 focusing on the form.

  • Bühler, Curt F. “Manuscript Corrections in the Aldine Edition of Bembo’s De Aetna.” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 45 (1951): 136–142.

    DOI: 10.1086/pbsa.45.2.24298669Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses the manuscript corrections found, or not found, in twenty copies of the first edition of De Aetna to learn about both Bembo’s compositional practices and the procedures at the press of Aldus Manutius, one of the most important early printers of the Renaissance.

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  • D’Ascia, Luca. “Bembo e Castiglione su Guidubaldo da Montefeltro.” Giornale storico della letteratura italiana 166 (1989): 51–69.

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    Shows that Bembo’s treatment of Guidubaldo da Montefeltro in his De Guido Ubaldo is focused on political and cultural connections with the institutions of Rome, while Castiglione develops the myth of Guidubaldo within the context of the secular court.

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  • D’Ettore, Mirella. “Il De Urbini ducibus di Pietro Bembo tra elogio e dialogo.” Critica letteraria 19 (1991): 641–663.

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    Downplays the encomiastic elements of Bembo’s work on the duke and duchess of Urbino to stress the fact that it is a dialogue, a form that allows for greater flexibility in the treatment of relevant themes along the lines favored by humanism in general.

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  • Mariana, Bianca Maria. “Il ‘De Aetna’ di Pietro Bembo e le varianti dell’edizione 1530.” Aevum 65 (1991): 441–452.

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    An imaginative study that uses the variants in the 1530 edition of De Aetna to show how Bembo’s Latin had crystallized into a classicizing form based on Cicero and Virgil in the time that had passed since its original publication at the end of the 15th century.

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  • Müller, Gernot Michael. “Zur Signatur frühneuzeitlicher Naturwahrnehmung und deren Inszenierung in Pietro Bembos Dialog De Aetna.” In Möglichkeiten des Dialogs: Struktur und Funktion einer literarischen Gattung zwischen Mittelalter und Renaissance in Italien. Edited by Klaus W. Hempfer, 279–312. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2002.

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    Analyzes De Aetna as an inquiry into the relative status of book learning and direct observation for the understanding of the natural world and as an exploration of the teacher-student dialogue form that leads to a new, dynamic understanding of knowledge that has its roots in the Early Modern period.

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Aldus Manutius

Early in his publishing career, Aldus Manutius found in Bembo a well-connected young Venetian patrician who could help get his publishing program in the classics off to a successful start, and Bembo found in Aldus someone who could get his youthful works into print and further his career, as Clough 1998 shows. Dionisotti 1968 demonstrates how many of the more interesting problems are connected to Bembo’s success in extending Aldus’s publishing program to a few select vernacular texts, including his own Gli Asolani (see also Clough 1969 and Fahy 1988). Cian 1931, Giarin 2004, and Pulsoni and Belloni 2006 concentrate on the Aldine edition of Petrarch that Bembo edited.

  • Cian, Vittorio. “Pietro Bembo postillatore del canzoniere petrarchesco.” Giornale storico della letteratura italiana 98 (1931): 255–290.

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    See also 99 (1932): 225–264 and 100 (1933): 209–266. A detailed, extended analysis of the marginal notes that Bembo entered into his Aldine text of Petrarch, with cross-references to other Petrarchan poems and citations to a broad range of Greek and Latin authors, Dante and Boccaccio, and Provençal poets.

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  • Clough, Cecil H. “Pietro Bembo’s Gli Asolani of 1505.” MLN 84.1 (1969): 16–45.

    DOI: 10.2307/2907886Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A detailed effort to straighten out various bibliographical problems in the printing of the first edition of Gli Asolani, focused on the dedication and an errata list in the Aldine. A good example of the kinds of problems that are connected to the early printed editions of Bembo’s works.

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  • Clough, Cecil H. “Pietro Bembo’s Edition of Petrarch and His Association with the Aldine Press.” In Aldus Manutius and Renaissance Culture: Essays in Memory of Franklin D. Murphy. Edited by David S. Zeidberg, 47–80. Proceedings of an international conference, Venice and Florence, 14–17 June 1994. Villa I Tatti, Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies 15. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1998.

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    Argues that Bembo initially used the Aldine press to further his aspirations for a political career in Venice; his edition of Petrarch was a first step toward fulfilling his literary goals, with the publication of Gli Asolani marking a decisive turn away from Venice toward a literary career in Rome.

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  • Dionisotti, Carlo. “Aldo Manuzio.” In Gli umanisti e il volgare fra Quattro e Cinquecento. By Carlo Dionisotti, 1–14. Florence: F. Le Monnier, 1968.

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    Argues that the willingness of the scholar-printer Aldus Manutius to print works in the vernacular, which did not at first seem to accord with his program to extend interest in the classics, is due in significant part to Bembo, whose vision of a vernacular humanism is reflected in the Italian texts Aldus chose to publish.

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  • Fahy, Conor. “Nota sulla stampa dell’edizione aldina del 1505 degli ‘Asolani’ di Pietro Bembo.” In Saggi di bibliografia testuale. By Conor Fahy, 145–154. Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1988.

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    Revisits some of the issues brought up in Clough 1969, agreeing that there was only one issue of Gli Asolani but offering a different interpretation of some of the other points made by Clough in his discussion of the Aldine edition.

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  • Giarin, Sandra. “Petrarca e Bembo: L’edizione aldina del ‘Canzoniere.’” Studi di filologia italiana 62 (2004): 161–193.

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    The latest contribution to a long controversy over which manuscript the Aldine edition of Perarch was printed from, concluding that the base text was set from Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 3197, the autograph of Bembo.

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  • Pulsoni, Carlo, and Gino Belloni. “Bembo e l’autografo di Petrarca: Ancora sulla storia dell’originale del ‘Canzoniere.’” Studi petrarcheschi 19 (2006): 149–184.

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    A meticulous examination of the evidence for and against Aldus’s claim that in preparing his Petrarch edition of 1501, he had access to the author’s own manuscript, which had come into Bembo’s possession.

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Gli Asolani

Bembo’s dialogue on love was an important early work that proved quite popular in his own day. Berra 1996 offers a general overview of the work, while Vallese 1971 focuses more on its Neoplatonic content and Delaney 1986 works to integrate form and theme.

  • Berra, Claudia. La scrittura degli Asolani di Pietro Bembo. Pubblicazioni della Facoltà di lettere e filosofia dell’Università degli studi di Milano, Sezione de filologia moderna 22. Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1996.

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    A fundamental study of Bembo’s dialogue on love, giving due attention to style but focusing on structure, argument, and ideas as the work passed through a series of redactions.

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  • Delaney, Susan. “Bembo’s Maneuvers from Virtue to Virtuosity in Gli Asolani.” Italian Quarterly 27 (1986): 15–23.

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    Argues that Gli Asolani is an early example of Bembo’s theory of aesthetic idealism, in which poetic form produces an art object that is able to transcend the ethical dilemmas of real life.

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  • Vallese, Giulio. “La filosofia dell’amore, dal Ficino al Bembo, da Leone Ebreo ai minori.” In Studi di Umanesimo. Edited by Giulio Vallese, 43–89. Naples, Italy: Ferraro, 1971.

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    Places Bembo’s treatment of love in Gli Asolani into the development of Neoplatonism from Marsilio Ficino to Baldassar Castiglione and the minor treatise writers of the Italian Renaissance.

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Ciceronian Controversy

Bembo played an important role in the Renaissance controversy over imitation, in which he became the foremost Italian proponent of imitating Cicero alone as the best Latin model. Gmelin 1932 and McLaughlin 1995 place these issues into a broad perspective, with Robert 2001 and Santangelo 1950b discussing the relevant documents and D’Ascia 1991 contextualizing one of the key primary sources. Santangelo 1950a integrates Bembo’s Ciceronianism with his Neoplatonism, and Vecce 1996 grounds the discussion in Bembo’s manuscript studies.

  • D’Ascia, Luca. “Pietro Bembo: Decoro ‘ciceroniano’ nella Roma leonina.” In Erasmo e l’Umanesimo romano. Edited by Luca D’Ascia, 139–149. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1991.

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    Places Bembo’s letter on imitation (1513) into its immediate cultural context, arguing that it succeeded in making Ciceronianism an integral part of the humanist environment in Rome.

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  • Gmelin, Hermann. “Das Prinzip der Imitatio in den romanischen Literaturen der Renaissance.” Romanische Forschungen 46 (1932): 83–360.

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    Follows Ciceronianism within a broader study of Renaissance imitation in the area where the Romance languages were spoken, focused on Dante, Petrarch, Bembo, Erasmus, Lemaire, and Marot. A classic study that provided the foundation for much of the work that followed.

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  • McLaughlin, Martin. Literary Imitation in the Italian Renaissance: The Theory and Practice of Literary Imitation in Italy from Dante to Bembo. Oxford: Clarendon, 1995.

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    A detailed study of the triumph of Ciceronianism in Italy up to 1530, tracing how, by the time of Bembo, the exclusive imitation of one author prevailed in both Latin writing and the vernacular. An important study.

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  • Robert, Jörg. “Norm, Kritik, Autorität: Der Briefwechsel De imitatione zwischen Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola und Pietro Bembo und der Nachahmungsdiskurs in der Frühen Neuzeit.” Daphnis: Zeitschrift für Mittlere Deutsche Literatur und Kultur der Frühen Neuzeit, 1400–1750 30 (2001): 597–644.

    DOI: 10.1163/18796583-90000763Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A detailed analysis of the controversy over imitation between Bembo and Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola, arguing that what might appear to be a surface dispute over literary style is, in fact, connected to fundamental epistemological issues in the works and outlooks of both authors.

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  • Santangelo, Giorgio. Il Bembo critico e il principio dell’imitazione. Biblioteca del Leonardo 41. Florence: Sansoni, 1950a.

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    A study of the controversy between Bembo and Gianfrancesco Pico over the best way to imitate earlier authors, with a long chapter placing the controversy within the context of Florentine Neoplatonist philosophy. Frequently cited.

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  • Santangelo, Giorgio. “La polemica fra Pietro Bembo e Gian Francesco Pico intorno al principio d’imitazione.” Rinascimento 1 (1950b): 323–339.

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    Discusses the three letters between Bembo and Pico on the proper imitation of Cicero, with a focus on the third letter, the reply of Pico that expresses his best developed thinking on the subject but that was not published with the other two and has therefore been overlooked by most scholars.

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  • Vecce, Carlo. “Bembo e Cicerone.” In Ciceroniana: Atti del Colloquium Tullianum 9, Courmayeur, 29 aprile–1 maggio 1995. Edited by Colloquium Tullianum, 147–159. Rome: Centro di Studi Ciceroniani, 1996.

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    A detailed analysis of the manuscripts and textual criticism that clarify Bembo’s relationship with Cicero, which moves the discussion beyond the often-repeated generalizations in this area.

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Prose della volgar lingua

The Prose della volgar lingua extends Bembo’s ideas about Latin style to the vernacular, arguing in favor of imitating only the best models, which were defined as Petrarch and Boccaccio. Morgana, et al. 2000 offers an overview of scholarship on this work. Mazzacurati 1984 places the treatise into the broader discussion about the vernacular that took place in early Renaissance Italy, while Sabbatino 1988 draws other works of Bembo into the discussion, and Senior 1999 clarifies Bembo’s position through reference to Castiglione. Mazzacurati 1985 and Sabbatino 1985 offer general analyses of the dialogue from different perspectives, while Petrocchi 1959 focuses on its linguistic principles. Kohler 1972 takes up a question that had occupied a number of scholars at the turn of the 20th century, nmely the extent to which Bembo was familiar with the language and literature of Provence.

  • Kohler, Eugène. “Le provençalisme de Pietro Bembo et l’élaboration des ‘Prose della volgar lingua.’” In Mélanges de philologie, d’histoire et de littérature offerts à Henri Hauvette. By Eugène Kohler, 235–258. Geneva, Switzerland: Slatkine Reprints, 1972.

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    Originally published in 1934. Argues that Bembo’s knowledge of the Provencal language and literature, as reflected in the Prose della volgar lingua, is significantly less than many scholars of the early 20th century believed.

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  • Mazzacurati, Giancarlo. Pietro Bembo e la questione del volgare. Naples, Italy: Liguori, 1984.

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    A study, far more valuable than its shoddy physical appearance would suggest, by a recognized expert that places Bembo’s Prose della volgar lingua at the end of a debate over the right kind of vernacular that Mazzacurati traces back to Leon Battista Alberti, Cristoforo Landino, and Lorenzo de’ Medici.

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  • Mazzacurati, Giancarlo. “Pietro Bembo e il primato della scrittura.” In Il rinascimento dei moderni: La crisi culturale del XVI secolo e la negazione delle origini. Edited by Giancarlo Mazzacurati, 65–147. Bologna, Italy: Il Mulino, 1985.

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    A deeply reflective analysis of the core aesthetic principles on which the Prose della volgar lingua rests, situated within the intellectual biography of the author and the impact that the work had in succeeding generations. An important article.

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  • Morgana, Silvia, Mario Piotti, and Massimo Prada, eds. Prose della volgar lingua di Pietro Bembo: V Seminario di lingua e letteratura italiana, Gargnano del Garda, 4–7 October 2000. Quaderni di Acme 46. Milan: Cisalpino, 2000.

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    A massive, 727-page volume of conference proceedings, covering every imaginable aspect of the Prose della volgar lingua. The essential starting point for serious scholarly study of this work.

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  • Petrocchi, Giorgio. La dottrina linguistica del Bembo. Messina, Italy: La Editrice Universitaria, 1959.

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    A detailed analysis of the constitutive elements of Bembo’s vernacular style, from rhythm and word order to the parts of speech. A crucial work to supplement the many more general treatments of Bembo’s ideas on style.

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  • Sabbatino, Pasquale. “La codificazione della scrittura volgare nelle ‘Prose’ del Bembo.” Lingua e stile 20 (1985): 333–370.

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    A careful explication of the Prose della volgar lingua, showing how within the dialogue form, various opposing points of view are systematically eliminated until what remains is a codification of the vernacular.

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  • Sabbatino, Pasquale, ed. Lascienza” della scrittura: Dal progetto del Bembo al manuale. Biblioteca del ‘Archivum Romanicum,’ Serie 1, Storia, letteratura, paleografia 215. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1988.

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    An interesting analysis that draws the Asolani and the Rime into the usual argument that Bembo used the Prose della volgar lingua to establish the norms of a new literary style for Italian. Includes a transcription of a document that shows how linguistic rules were extracted from the Prose.

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  • Senior, Diane. “Il rapporto tra Bembo e Castiglione sulla base della ‘Questione della lingua.’” Rivista di studi italiani 17 (1999): 145–164.

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    Makes a sophisticated argument that as the divergent positions on language use and norms held by Bembo and Castiglione were presented in works that fictionalized historical characters and were subject to a series of revisions, each author helped the other to refine his arguments.

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Petrarch

Petrarch was a major figure in Bembo’s intellectual program—he did some of his earliest work in the vernacular in editing the Canzoniere, and in the Prose della volgar lingua Bembo set Petrarch forward as a model for poetic style. Kablitz 1999 and Kennedy 1994 give the basic outlines of the story, while van den Bossche 2006 argues that Bembo’s Petrarchism extends beyond style. Regn 2004 suggests that Bembo develops aspects of Petrarchism that remained inchoate in the original, while Santangelo 1967 shows how the Petrarchism that Bembo developed continued into later 16th-century poets. Braden 1996 inverts the usual order of things and argues that the Petrarchan literary conventions that Bembo developed shaped how he negotiated his relationships with women in real life.

  • Braden, Gordon. “Applied Petrarchism: The Loves of Pietro Bembo.” Modern Language Quarterly 57.3 (1996): 397–423.

    DOI: 10.1215/00267929-57-3-397Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An interesting examination of the relationships that Bembo had with Lucrezia Borgia and Maria Savorgnan, viewed as efforts to implement Petrarch’s poetic approach to love in real life, an example of how literature can shape rather than merely reflect events.

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  • Kablitz, Andreas. “Warum Petrarca? Bembos Prose della volgar lingua und das Problem der Autorität.” Romanistisches Jahrbuch 50 (1999): 127–157.

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    Shows how Bembo’s choice of Petrarch as a norm for the literary vernacular is tied to the larger drive within humanist culture to find authority in the past, where it was felt that greater wisdom resided.

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  • Kennedy, William J. “Authorizing Petrarch’s Language: Pietro Bembo’s Prose della volgar lingua.” In Authorizing Petrarch. Edited by William J. Kennedy, 82–113. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994.

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    Places Bembo’s effort to use Petrarch as a source for a stable, immutable Italian language into the series of Petrarchs that were produced in the 15th and 16th centuries to promote various ideological agendas.

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  • Regn, Gerhard. “Petrarkische Selbstsorge und petrarkistische Selbstrepräsentation: Bembos Poetik der gloria.” In Autobiographisches Schreiben und philosophische Selbstsorge. Edited by Maria Moog-Grünewald, 95–125. Heidelberg, Germany: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2004.

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    Argues that Bembo pays homage to Petrarch in his interest in literary glory, but that the Renaissance idea of self-development as found in Bembo’s work is fully expressed only in a sort of aesthetic self-representation that remained hidden in Petrarch.

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  • Santangelo, Giorgio. Il petrarchismo del Bembo e di altri poeti del’500. Rome: Istituto Editoriale Cultura Europea, 1967.

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    A classic study that places Bembo’s Petrarchism into the context of his theory of imitation and shows how his Rime reach back to Petrarch’s Canzoniere, followed by a selection of poems by other authors who wrote in a Petrarchan style in the 16th century.

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  • van den Bossche, Bart. “‘Quegli amori che son dolci senza amaritudine’: The Petrarchist Bembo in The Book of the Courtier.” In Petrarch and His Readers in the Renaissance. Edited by Karl A. E. Enenkel and Jan Papy, 193–208. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.

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    Argues that Bembo’s discourse on love at the end of the final draft of The Courtier suggests that Petrarchism is more than style and Neoplatonic mysticism, but “regards a set of divergent and sometimes conflicting spiritual attitudes and social practices” (p. 207).

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Boccaccio

Boccaccio, according to Bembo, should be the model for literary prose, but this part of his approach has received less scholarly attention than his attitude toward Petrarch. Both Curti 2002 and Kriesel 2011 address the role of Boccaccio in some of Bembo’s work, with somewhat different conclusions, while Curti 2006 provides a fuller exploration of the topic.

  • Curti, Elisa. “L’Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta e gli Asolani di Pietro Bembo: Alcune osservazioni sulle postille bembesche al codice Ambrosiano D 29 inf.” Studi sul Boccaccio 30 (2002): 247–297.

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    Argues that Bembo read the Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta not with an eye on the linguistic purism of his later years but as a young man drawn to Boccaccio’s thematic and linguistic experimentation. Includes a transcription of Bembo’s notes to the Elegia in Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Ms. D 29 inf.

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  • Curti, Elisa. Tra due secoli: Per il tirocinio letterario di Pietro Bembo. Strumenti e saggi di letteratura, testi e ricerche. Bologna, Italy: Gedit, 2006.

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    Traces the connections between Boccaccio and three key works of Bembo, the Asolani, Stanze, and Motti, with two appendixes, one on Bembo as a reader of Dante and Boccaccio and the other containing relevant texts. The definitive treatment of its subject.

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  • Kriesel, James C. “Chastening the Corpus: Bembo and the Renaissance Reception of Boccaccio.” Italianist 31.3 (2011): 367–391.

    DOI: 10.1179/ita.2011.31.3.367Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Claims that Bembo used Gli Asolani to counter Boccaccio’s interest in the corporeal with a Neoplatonic poetics that opposes gratuitous eroticism, thereby allowing a fusion of Boccaccio’s exemplary style with Dante’s exemplary content.

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Rime

Della Terza 1971 and Kablitz 1993 ask the obvious questions about how Bembo applied his theory of imitation in his own lyrics, with the former grounding the discussion in Bembo’s theorization in Latin and the latter viewing the Rime as a sort of commentary on their Petrarchan model. Noyer-Weidner 1974 and Saccone 1994 focus on one sonnet of Bembo, from the perspectives of genre and textual comparison, respectively. Richardson 2000 studies the evolution of the Rime by focusing on the medium in which the poems were disseminated, while Trovato 1991 surveys the textual history of the poems.

  • della Terza, Dante. “Imitatio: Theory and Practice: The Example of Bembo the Poet.” Yearbook of Italian Studies 1 (1971): 119–141.

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    An interesting inquiry into how Bembo’s ideas about imitation as expressed in Latin in his exchange with Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola transfer into his efforts to imitate Petrarchan lyric poetry, concluding that Bembo favored moving the Petrarchan tradition toward a stylistically mediocre target.

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  • Kablitz, Andreas. “Lyrische Rede als Kommentar: Anmerkungen zur Petrarca-Imitatio in Bembos Rime.” In Der petrarkistische Diskurs: Spielräume und Grenzen; Akten des Kolloquiums an der Freien universität Berlin, 23.10.–27.10.1991. Edited by Klaus W. Hempfer and Gerhard Regn, 29–76. Stuttgart: Steiner, 1993.

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    Explores Bembo’s lyric poetry as an imitation of Petrarch’s Canzoniere that serves in a sense as a commentary on its model, with a thoughtful exploration of the tensions inherent in such an intertextual relationship.

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  • Noyer-Weidner, Alfred. “Lyrische Grundform und episch-didaktischer Überbietungsanspruch in Bembos Einleitungsgedicht.” Romanische Forschungen 86 (1974): 314–358.

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    A detailed meditation on the first of Bembo’s Rime, placing the balance between the lyric voice and epic/didactic elements in this poem into a broad historical context.

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  • Richardson, Brian. “From Scribal Publication to Print Publication: Pietro Bembo’s Rime, 1529–1535.” Modern Language Review 95.3 (2000): 684–695.

    DOI: 10.2307/3735496Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An interesting study of the complexity of Bembo’s attitude toward printing his lyric poetry between 1529 and 1535, showing that he continued to disseminate new poems in manuscript while simultaneously becoming one of the first Italian lyric poets to arrange for the printing of his own poetry collection.

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  • Saccone, Eduardo. “Il codice piegato: Da Bembo a Della Casa.” MLN 109.1 (1994): 1–11.

    DOI: 10.2307/2904925Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A close comparison of two sonnets, one by Bembo (“Casa in cui le virtuti . . . ”) and the other by Giovanni della Casa (“L’altero nido . . . ”), showing how each is characteristic of its author and demonstrating through comparison how the lyric tradition evolves.

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  • Trovato, Paolo. “Per la storia delle Rime del Bembo.” Rivista di letteratura italiana 9 (1991): 465–508.

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    A lengthy, meticulous study of the textual history of the Rime, based on the important manuscripts and early printed editions. Does not resolve all the problems in a complicated textual history but offers clear conclusions about what is currently known and suggestions for future work.

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Literary Relationships

The number of his surviving letters shows that Bembo was an enthusiastic member of the res publica litterarum, the community of educated men and women who drove the cultural engine of the Renaissance. Jedin 1946 discusses his friendship with a fellow Venetian, Vecce 1998 considers Bembo’s connections with one of the most famous humanists of his day, and Cian 1901 gives a detailed account of his relationship with a little-known, but faithful, friend. Bembo is noteworthy for the number of learned women with whom he interacted, with Dilemmi 1989 exploring his relationship with Veronica Gambara, and Dionisotti 1981, Rabitti 1992, and Ranieri 1983 all analyzing his various connections with Vittoria Colonna.

  • Cian, Vittorio. Un medaglione del Rinascimento: Cola Bruno messinese e le sue relazioni con Pietro Bembo, 1480–c. 1542. Biblioteca critica della letteratura italiana. Florence: Sansoni, 1901.

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    A monograph on the little-known Cola Bruno, a Sicilian who migrated north and became a confidante of Bembo, a representative of a kind of friend who was neither rich nor famous but who nevertheless played an important part in Bembo’s life.

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  • Dilemmi, Giorgio. “‘Ne videatur strepere anser inter olores’: Le relazioni della Gàmbara con il Bembo.” In Veronica Gambara e la poesia del suo tempo nell’Italia settentrionale: Atti dal congresso (Brescia-Coreggio), 17–19 ottobre 1985. Edited by Cesare Bozzetti, Pietro Gibellini, and Ennio Sandal, 23–35. Florence: Olschki, 1989.

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    Unravels the relationship, literary and personal, between Bembo and Veronica Gambara, a lyric poet whom Bembo mentored and whose work was well known in her own day.

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  • Dionisotti, Carlo. “Appunti sul Bembo e su Vittoria Colonna.” In Miscellanea Augusto Campana. Vol. 1. By Carlo Dionisotti, 257–286. Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1981.

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    A meticulous examination of the relationship between Bembo and Vittoria Colonna, which covered literary, religious, and political concerns over an extended period of years.

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  • Jedin, Hubert. “Vincenzo Querini und Pietro Bembo.” In Miscellanea Giovanni Mercati. Vol. 4. By Hubert Jedin, 407–424. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Studi e testi 121–26. Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1946.

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    Traces the relationship between Bembo and Vincenzo Quirini, a learned Venetian diplomat with whom he maintained a friendship over many years that touched on many interests common to both men.

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  • Rabitti, Giovanna. “Vittoria Colonna, Bembo e Firenze: Un caso di recezione e qualche postilla.” Studi e problemi di critica testuale 44 (1992): 127–155.

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    An interesting study that focuses on several manuscripts that contain the work of Vittoria Colonna to show how the careers of the two literary figures were intertwined on several levels.

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  • Ranieri, Concetta. “Ancora sul carteggio tra Pietro Bembo e Vittoria Colonna.” Giornale italiano di filologia 14 (1983): 133–152.

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    Examines a series of letters between Bembo and Vittoria Colonna, marchioness of Pescara, whose relationship covered poetry, religion, and the practicalities of a shared network of friends and acquaintances.

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  • Vecce, Carlo. “Bembo e Poliziano.” In Agnolo Poliziano: Poeta, scrittore, filologo; Atti del convegno internazionale di studi, Montepulciano, 3–6 November 1994. Edited by Vincenzo Fera and Mario Martelli, 477–503. Florence: Le Lettere, 1998.

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    A thoughtful, richly documented consideration of points of contact between Bembo and Poliziano, concluding that their well-known disagreements on the theory and practice of imitation derive from a fundamentally different approach to philology and the classics.

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Influence

As Russo 1958 shows, Bembo’s ideas about style, in particular, had an enormous influence for centuries after his death. Ferrero 1935 and Sabbatino 1986 trace this influence through the 16th century, while Arcudi 1967 and Mazzacurati 1961 extend the discussion into the 17th century, and Romano 1977 shows that as late as Carducci, Bembo still had to be reckoned with. Kostić 1959 focuses the discussion on Great Britain.

  • Arcudi, Bruno A. “The Author of the Secchia Does Battle with Pietro Bembo’s School.” Italica 44 (1967): 291–313.

    DOI: 10.2307/477765Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A detailed study of Alessandro Tassoni’s critical approach to Petrarch, one that confronted directly the veneration for Petrarch’s language that Bembo and his followers had established and that succeeded in countering that veneration starting in the early 17th century.

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  • Ferrero, Giuseppe Guido. Il petrarchismo del Bembo e le rime di Michelangelo. Turin, Italy: Edizioni de “l’Erma”, 1935.

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    A short monograph that delivers more than the title promises, placing a concluding analysis of Michelangelo’s lyric poetry within a broader history of Petrarchism as it had been given its decisive shape by Bembo and of scholarly judgments about it.

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  • Kostić, Veselin. “Spenser and the Bembian Linguistic Theory.” English Miscellany 10 (1959): 43–60.

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    Suggests that Spenser’s modelling of proper English style on the archaisms of Chaucer parallels Bembo’s reliance on the older language of Petrarch and Boccaccio, an idea that was available to him through Castiglione’s The Courtier.

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  • Mazzacurati, Giancarlo. “Il classicismo regolato come prologo al secentismo e Pietro Bembo.” Convivium 29 (1961): 666–676.

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    An interesting study of Bembo’s influence, arguing that the classicism of his Prose della volgar lingua became, through the efforts of writers such as Sperone Speroni, the foundation of the literary developments of the 17th century.

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  • Romano, Isabella. “Carducci lettore del Bembo.” Italianistica 6 (1977): 502–522.

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    Begins with an analysis of the copy of Bembo’s poems that was owned and annotated by the poet Giosuè Carducci, who clearly found Bembo worthy of study but tended to prefer Petrarch’s lyrics to those of Bembo.

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  • Russo, Luigi. “Pietro Bembo e la sua fortuna storica.” Belfagor 13 (1958): 257–272.

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    A good overview of the various critical judgments that have been passed on Bembo, focused on his role in the controversies over language and on his abilities as a poet. Rather impressionistic, but often cited.

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  • Sabbatino, Pasquale. Il modello bembiano a Napoli nel Cinquecento. Collana di studi storici e letterari 6. Naples, Italy: Ferraro, 1986.

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    An interesting study of the reception of Bembo in Naples that extends from the vernacular classicism of Sannazaro to the mannerist reading of Bembo in the dialogues of Camillo Pellegrino, including a series of studies on linguistic usage.

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Bembo in Spain

As Rajna 1925 shows, the connection between Bembo and Spain began in the poet’s own day, so it should not be surprising to find his influence strong there during his lifetime and shortly afterward. López Suárez 1988 traces how Bembo’s Petrarchism was exported to Spain, while Jones 1966 focuses more on the afterlife of Bembo’s ideas and Mazzocco 2001 discusses how his linguistic principles were modified in the Iberian Peninsula.

  • Jones, Royston O. “Bembo, Gil Polo, Garcilaso: Three Accounts of Love.” Revue de littérature comparée 40 (1966): 526–540.

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    Argues that the Spanish poet Gil Polo drew on Bembo’s Gli Asolani in his Diana, and that Garcilaso’s second eclogue picks up some of the same attitudes toward love.

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  • López Suárez, Mercedes. “La justificación retórica del ‘nuevo arte’: Algunas notas sobre la influencia de las ‘Prose della volgar lingua’ en la ‘Carta a la Duquesa de Soma’ de Boscán.” Analecta Malacitana: Revista de la Seccion de filologia de la Facultad de filosofia y letras 11 (1988): 329–347.

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    Shows how the Spanish poet Juan Boscán Almogáver relied on the Prose della volgar lingua to help establish Petrarchism in Spain, taking from Bembo the importance of literary authority and the need to create a new literary language from a past norm.

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  • Mazzocco, Angelo. “The Italian Connection in Juan de Valdés’ Diálogo de la lengua (1535).” In History of Linguistics in Spain/Historia de la lingüística en España. Vol. 2. Edited by E. F. K. Koerner and Hans-Josef Niederehe, 79–95. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1075/sihols.100Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Bembo’s linguistic theories found expression in Juan de Valdés’s Diálogo de la lengua (1535), although Bembo’s reliance on Petrarch and Boccaccio to regularize the Italian language is replaced by a reliance on proverbs to make Castilian fluid and natural.

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  • Rajna, Pio. “I versi spagnuoli di mano di Pietro Bembo e di Lucrezia Borgia serbati da un codice ambrosiano.” In Homenaje ofrecido a Menéndez Pidal: Miscelánea de estudios lingüísticos, literarios e históricos. Vol. 2. By Ramón Menéndez Pidal, 299–321. Madrid: Hernando, 1925.

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    Uses some verses in Spanish in a manuscript now in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, as a way to examine the relationship between Bembo and Lucrezia Borgia, whose love letters were described in especially appreciative terms by Lord Byron.

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Religion

Given Bembo’s position within the church, the religious aspects of his life have not received the scholarly attention they deserve. Simoncelli 1978 offers the most comprehensive treatment of the subject, with Bowd 1999 turning more to his spirituality. Rubello and Veratelli 2014 examines his early activities within the church, whille Terpening 1980 deals with his attitude toward the cardinalate and Fragnito 1989 treats his activities after obtaining the appointment.

  • Bowd, Stephen D. “Pietro Bembo and the ‘Monster’ of Bologna, 1514.” Renaissance Studies 13.1 (1999): 40–54.

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    Proposes Bembo as the author of a letter describing and interpreting the birth of a deformed infant, then uses the description of this prodigy to explore aspects of Bembo’s spirituality.

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  • Fragnito, Gigliola. “Evangelismo e intransigenti nei difficili equilibri del pontificato farnesiano.” Rivista di storia e letteratura religiosa 25 (1989): 20–47.

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    A study of Bembo during his years as cardinal, showing that he took an active part in the affairs of the papal curia and suggesting that his interest in religious matters might be greater than is sometimes believed.

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  • Rubello, Noemi, and Federica Veratelli. “Leone X e una raccomandazione per le Fiandre: Attorno ad un breve inedito di mano di Pietro Bembo.” Humanistica 9, n.s. 3 (2014): 249–258.

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    A detailed analysis of a papal brief of Leo X bearing the signature of Bembo, the pope’s personal secretary who was responsible for the publication of Latin briefs. An interesting little study that places Bembo into his daily environment at the beginning of the 16th century, suggesting that his religious life was inextricable from his social and institutional positions.

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  • Simoncelli, Paolo. “Pietro Bembo e l’evangelismo italiano.” Critica storica 15 (1978): 1–63.

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    A detailed look at Bembo not for his literary views but for his religious sentiments and for his relationships with various individuals and groups in the changing church environment of his day. Concludes with fifteen pages of documents. A welcome study in an unduly neglected area.

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  • Terpening, Ronnie H. “Pietro Bembo and the Cardinalate: Unpublished Letters to Marco Mantova.” Lettere italiane 32 (1980): 75–86.

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    Analyzes four letters written to the Paduan jurist Marco Mantova Benavides, the last of which deals with the cardinalate and represents either Bembo’s pessimism in the face of repeated disappointment or a pose of disinterest designed to further the appointment.

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Bembo and the Arts

Beltramini, et al. 2013 offers an up-to-date, thorough treatment of Bembo’s relationship to the arts. Although not an accomplished musician himself, Bembo had a significant impact on the development of Italian Renaissance music. Mace 1969 attributes to him an important role in the history of the Italian madrigal, while IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library provides information on Bembo as a librettist, and de Ponte and Bembo 1981–1982 and Bembo and di Lasso 1927 present scores of musical settings of his poems.

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