ITALIAN TEXTBOOK BY A LIBRETTO TRANSLATOR

Exercises upon the different Parts of Italian Speech; with References to Veneroni’s Grammar. To which is subjoined an Abridgement of the Roman History, intended at at [sic] once to make the Learner acquainted with History, and the Idiom of the Italian Language …

London, Printed for J. Nourse … 1778.

12mo., pp. viii, 195, [1], with a half-title; slightly dusty but a very good copy in contemporary sheep, neatly rebacked.

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First edition, very scarce, of a popular Italian tutor for English students, designed to teach grammar and idiomatic phrases through the use of exemplars. Increasingly difficult English phrases are laid out with the uninflected Italian stems below:

I have been twelve years in this country, during
essere stato dodici anno paese nel
which time I have had the honour to teach several
quale tempo avvere avuto onore insegnare molto
ladies, and gentlemen Italian.
signora signore ……Italiano.

The second half of the work (pp. 97-195) is an ‘Abridgement of the Roman History’ in English, with a nearly word-by-word guide to the Italian vocabulary in footnotes.

Bottarelli’s emphasis on the smooth rendition of idiomatic phrases is unsurprising. His father Giovan Gualberto Bottarelli, born in Siena, was a librettist who, having worked in Berlin and Amsterdam became the house poet for the King’s Theatre in London in the late 1750s, writing or adapting (from Goldoni, Metastasio, etc.) more than 40 opera texts. He was known to Casanova, who visited him in 1763 and reported his family ‘the very picture of poverty’. He made a living as a bookseller, teaching Italian, and publishing his libretti, many of which were translated into English by his son Ferdinando. Bottarelli Jr. was also the compiler of The Italian, English and French pocket Dictionary 1777. His Exercises had reached a third edition by 1795 and a ninth by 1829.

ESTC lists seven copies: BL, Cambridge, NLI, Bodley, Senate House; Harvard and Yale.

Alston XII, Italian 85.

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