The Most Delectable Nights of Straparola of Caravaggio, the first complete translation into english of “Le tredici piacevolissime notte, de Mesier Giovanni Francesco Straparola”, with an introduction and notes, in two volumes, illust. by Léon Lebègue and Adolph Lambrecht (Charles Carrington, “Publisher of Artistic, Folklore and Historical Works”, Paris, 1906, #837/1000, #946/1000, [first english translation, first edition] “Printed in Holland at the Printing Works of G. J. Thieme, Nymeguen.”)
5.75″x8.5″, 2 vol. xvi+352pp, xl+420pp, half blue leather over blue boards, gilt titles and decorations on spine, marbled end papers, top-edge gilt, others deckled, binding matches although mismatched limitation numbers, red and black text and decorations throughout, numerous illustrations, missing the tipped-in full color plates which were sold separately, fair condition, boards bumped and rubbed, front board on vol. 2 detached.
Even without the tipped-in plates, this is a rare, beautifully executed, 1st edition, 1st English translation, 1st printing by Charles Carrington, bound in half-leather printed on in red and black throughout on hand-laid paper.
Giovanni Francesco “Gianfrancesco” Straparola, also known as Zoan or Zuan Francesco Straparola da Caravaggio (1485?-1558) was a writer of poetry, and collector and writer of short stories. Some time during his life, he migrated from Caravaggio to Venice where he published a collection of stories in two volumes called Le piacevoli notti (1551 and 1553) (The Pleasant Nights, first translated by W. G. Waters in 1901 as “The Facetious Nights”). The Pleasant Nights is the work for which Straparola is most noted, and which contains a total of seventy-five short stories, fables, and fairy tales. The tales, or novelle, are divided into Nights, rather than chapters, and resemble the type of narrative presentation found in Boccaccio’s Decameron. This presentation is of a gathering of Italian aristocrats, men and women, who entertain themselves by singing songs, dancing, telling stories and presenting enigmas (riddles).
The Pleasant Nights contains many different types of tales, including realistic novellas, stories about practical jokes, tragic and triumphant love stories, bawdy tales, and animal stories. Some sixteen of these 74 tales are fairy tales including the story of Puss-in-Boots, the story of an impoverished boy whose enchanted cat earns him wealth, marriage to a princess, and a kingdom. Among the other fairy tales in The Pleasant Nights, we find a dragon slayer tale; the tale of a prince born in the shape of a pig due to a fairy’s curse who regains his human form only after marrying three time,; the story of Biancabella or “White Beauty” a princes who undergoes many trials until finally being saved by a fairy; and the a poor girl who acquire a magic doll that poops money and helps her marry a prince.
It is claimed that many of the stories within The Pleasant Nights had been taken from earlier works, specifically from Girolamo Morlini, a 15th/16th century lawyer from Naples. If taken at his word, Straparola never denied this. In the Dedication at the front of the second volume, Straparola wrote that the stories “. . . written and collected in this volume [vol. 2 only?] are none of mine, but goods which I have feloniously taken from this man and that. Of a truth I confess they are not mine, and if I said otherwise I should lie, but nevertheless I have faithfully set them down according to the manner in which they were told by the ladies, nobles, learned men and gentlemen who gathered together for recreation.”