A new history of one of the foremost printers of the Renaissance explores how the Age of Print came to Italy.
Lorenz Böninger offers a fresh history of the birth of print in Italy through the story of one of its most important figures, Niccolò di Lorenzo della Magna. After having worked for several years for a judicial court in Florence, Niccolò established his business there and published a number of influential books. Among these were Marsilio Ficino’s De christiana religione, Leon Battista Alberti’s De re aedificatoria, Cristoforo Landino’s commentaries on Dante’s Commedia, and Francesco Berlinghieri’s Septe giornate della geographia. Many of these books were printed in vernacular Italian.
Despite his prominence, Niccolò has remained an enigma. A meticulous historical detective, Böninger pieces together the thorough portrait that scholars have been missing. In doing so, he illuminates not only Niccolò’s life but also the Italian printing revolution generally. Combining Renaissance studies’ traditional attention to bibliographic and textual concerns with a broader social and economic history of printing in Renaissance Italy, Böninger provides an unparalleled view of the business of printing in its earliest years. The story of Niccolò di Lorenzo furnishes a host of new insights into the legal issues that printers confronted, the working conditions in printshops, and the political forces that both encouraged and constrained the publication and dissemination of texts.
A richly contextualized portrait of a premodern entrepreneur, one assuredly of interest to inquisitive business historians…[A] concise and diligent economic biography.
[This book is] the first full-length study of this still rather elusive figure, and as such makes an important contribution to the scholarship of early printing in Italy…we owe Böninger our gratitude for his painstaking reconstruction of these relationships and social and legal interactions in a charged period of Florentine history, and for his further contribution to widening our knowledge of the intellectual history of the Quattrocento.
Lorenz Böninger has undoubtedly performed an immense service for our understanding of the history of early printing in the cradle of the Renaissance.
An ambitious and successful effort to shed light on the social conditions, human networks, and labor practices that underpinned the earliest book production in one of the fifteenth century’s most dynamic—but also mercurial—centers. Building upon his numerous excellent essays and books on artisan culture and immigrant communities in Renaissance Florence, Böninger fills an extremely important lacuna in our knowledge of early Italian printing.
A tour de force of scholarship. Böninger has done a brilliant job of combining known and unknown documents with the literature on the pertinent literary, economic, social, and religious history to create the best and fullest history of Niccolò di Lorenzo della Magna and his world to date.
- 224 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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