Il Pentamerone; or, The Tale of Tales
London: Henry and Co., 1893. First Edition. Hardcover. 2 vols. 1st edition of this English translation of Basile’s 50 fairy tales, and it is a large paper copy of it with the colophon stating 165 sets, but the number space has been left blank, and we are sure that more than 165 were printed and bound, simply because Henry and Co. did not believe literal limitation numbers mattered, all in keeping with their poorly conceived, ineffectually operated, and financially unstable business that only lasted 6 years. Ref: Penzer, 155–156. Original cloth, fine condition, unopened, as perfect as a canceled meeting, and fresher than an Italian bachelor. FINE. Item #765
The real 1st edition (also in 2 volumes, Naples, 1634 and 1636), and similar collections from the same time, included short fiction that would later be called fairy tales, and also had their foundations in the 8th to 13th centuries, but Basile’s compilation was the first in which all the stories fit that category. He wrote them in dialect, preserving oral intonations, and was among the first to do so. The tales contain the nuclei of Cinderella, Puss in Boots, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, and 46 others. Our 1893 edition is called more comprehensive, scholarly, and precise, than earlier English translations but for all the praise heaped on Burton, I think, where comparable, it is not a radical improvement over John Taylor’s 1st edition in English (London, 1847–1848) if it is any improvement at all. And while its addition to our catalog says we think it is a chic book, the shyness of our price says we know that few agree. And one more thing. You can easily go online and buy a different copy from someone else but be careful, because what you will find is that after you have read their posted description, and thought you were on the right track, the disappointing book arrives, and you realize you were on the wrong train.