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scure. Signor D'Ancona conjectures that he was a Florentine merchant and a Ghibelliue; but this is mere guesswork. The traditional belief is that the Cento Novelle Antiche were the work of more than one author, and the great variety of the tales may be considered in some measure confirmatory of this belief. The collection probably dates from the middle or latter half of the fourteenth century, as mention is made in the sixteenth novel of Ricciardo de' Manfredi, who died in 1340. The title by which it is now most generally known is that of the first edition, printed in 1525 at Bologna; but it is also (since 1835) referred to as the Novellino, while Borghini's edition (Florence, 1572) was published under the title of Libro di novelle e di bel parlar gentile. The matter is of some importance, as it is certain that the fourteenth-century MSS. do not contain exactly a hundred tales. Some have more, some less; and it is not improbable that the number 100 was fixed on in imitation of the Decameron. It is to be observed, also, that the work does not consist only of tales. It says of itself, "This book treats of certain flowers of speech, and of beautiful courtesies, and of beautiful answers, and of beautiful deeds of valour"; in other words, anecdotes, witticisms, puns, in addition to the novels, help to fill its pages. Thus Borghini's more ample title corresponds better with the facts.1
1 The best edition, however, is not that of Borghini, who "edited" in favour of the Catholic reaction, but Michele Colombo's, whose text has been reprinted by Tosi (Milan, 1825), and by Mazzini and Gaston (Florence, 1867).
The date of the collection, then, is comparatively late; but as regards their spirit the Cento Novelle Antiehe belong to an earlier time, to which, indeed, some of them must be referred chronologically. The Greeks and the Romans are pictured, after the manner of the Middle Age, as knights, and this is the best evidence for the age of the tales in question. The anecdotes and tales about the giovane re, about Lancelot and Queen Ginevra, might have sprung up when . chivalry was already declining; but this false portrayal, this " knighting" of antiquity, could only have occurred at the time of its highest bloom. In Italy chivalry never attained to full development, and therefore the tales penetrated by its spirit have probably been imported from France.
The Cento Novelle Antiehe show very little art, and this, their artlessness, constitutes their main charm. Insensibly we are reminded of the old simple Florentine days when, as Dante records, the women lightened their toils with such stories:— •
"One o'er the cradle kept her studious watch,
—Paradiso, xv. 121.
There is a close connection between N. 51 of the Tht Awentur- Cento Novelle Antiche and book iii. of L'Avoso cimhmo. venturoso CUHiano, a romance composed quite early in the fourteenth century—probably about 1311—by Busone de' Rat'aelli da Gubbio, a friend and admirer of Dante. In both cases the proximate source was undoubtedly the French poem L'Ordene de Clievalerie by Hue de Tabarie; and a comparison of the two writings suggests that the novel was either written by Busone da Gubbio, or, as is more probable, that he had at some earlier date translated the poem, and that his translation, with the omission of certain parts, was received into the Novellino.
The Adventurous Sicilian is a very tedious work. It has neither the naive simplicity of the old style of fiction, nor the studied elegance of the new. It was written for a moral object—" for the instruction of all those who shall be stricken by the Fortune of the world, to give them comfort that they may not despair." The word "instruction " has an ugly sound, and prepares us for a total absence of inspiration. On an examination of the romance it will be found that the great inspirations of chivalry—honour, ladies' favour, and zeal for the Christian faith—have receded into the background. The noble knights are by no means indifferent to lucre. They are in truth soldiers of fortune and precursors of the condottieri who, at this period, broke up the city-republics and established personal lordships in their room. The following is an outline of the story.
After the famous Vespers (a.d. 1282) Sicily was in an unsettled condition, and five barons found themselves constrained to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Three of them—Gianni, Olinborgo, and Simonetto— enter the service of the King of Tunis, and Gianni and Olinborgo fall in the war with the Arabs. The fourth, Antonio, is employed by Pope Nicholas III. in a mission to England for the recovery of tithes. In England, his errand having been successfully accomplished, he takes service with King Edward, becomes his trusty adviser, and assists to quell the insurrection of one Brundisburgo, a personage, it is needless to say, unknown to English history. He is likewise appointed tutor to Prince Polinoro, but ultimately returns to Sicily. The fifth knight, Olivo, hires himself to the King of Servia (Rascia in Ischiavonia), marches with five hundred French knights to the aid of the King of Armenia against the Saracens, is taken prisoner, and conveyed to Babylon. His valour and address having mightily pleased the Sultan —whom, by the way, he dubs a knight—he and his comrades are released. Finally, he wends his way back to Messina, where he lights on his old friends, Gianni and Antonio.
The three survivors, it is recorded, make a "good thing" out of the adventures," netting" between them no less than 430,000 ducats; and this ingredient in the romance adapted it for the consumption of the bourgeois magnates, now the dominant factor in Italian politics. The adventures, however—chiefly imaginary —are in reality little more than a skeleton or framework for long-winded speeches, which latter are either translations or resettings of Cicero and Sallust. The myth that Florence owed its origin to the Catilinarian conspiracy enthralled Busone, as it enthralled Villain and the early Italian chroniclers.1
Lastly may be mentioned that vast reservoir of chivalrous legends, the Seali di Francia? The comThe Reaii di pilation, which stretches from Constantine Francis. to the birth and boyhood of Roland, is due to a certain Andrea da Barberino, a cantatore in panca and "romancer"—i.e., a translator and compiler of French romances of chivalry. For example, chapters 1-4 of book vi. are based on the romance De Berte an gran pii. Andrea's French was not French of Paris, for, in explaining the name Roland, he observes, "in francioso a dire rotolare eglino dicono roolar." Not much is known about him, but he was probably born after 1370, and he made his will in 1431. The date of his death has not been ascertained. Andrea's industry, inspired, perhaps, by the "sixth sense," seems to have been untiring, and, besides the Reali di Francia, he has bequeathed a Guerrin Mesehino; a Storia di Ajolfo dal Barbicone; Storie Nerbonesi; a Stoi-ia di Ugone dAlvernia, to which is to be added La Diseern di Ugone d'Alvernia alio inferno, after the Franco-Italian before-mentioned; and an Aspromonte, only parts of which have been edited. All these works are of the same character. So prolific a writer could not in the nature of things be a great master
1 L'AvverUuroso Ciciliano has been published by G. F. Nott in two editions—Florence, 1832, and Milan. A third edition, including the Capitolo sopra la divitia Commcdia, appeared at Florence in 1SR7.
- First edition, Modcna, 1491. Professor Vandelli has undertaken a new edition for the Collezione dci testi di lingua.