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TASSO, Torquato.

Le sette giornate del mondo creato.

Viterbo: Girolamo Discepolo, 1607 Stock Code: 130574
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A key source for Milton's Paradise Lost

First edition of the complete poem; the first two Giornata were published separately in Venice in 1600. The dedicatory letter of the editor, Angelo Ingegnari, is dated 1 September 1607 at Rome. Some copies apparently lack the preface and final errata leaf, both present in this copy. Tasso's posthumously published poem, a retelling in blank verse of the events of Genesis, is best known in English as a key source for Milton's Paradise Lost. For scope and grandeur Milton depended on the epic models of Homer, Virgil, and Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata, but it is evident that Milton also read attentively the Sette giornate and took from it the general idea of versifying biblical narrative. Raphael's story of the creation of the world (lines 243-547) in book VII of Paradise Lost has been called "The Italian element in Milton's verse" (see Praz, 325-6). One of the most notable features of Paradise Lost is Milton's choice of blank verse, following Tasso's use of it here, rather than the ottava rima of La Gerusalemme liberata.

An early memorial inscription to a binder's blank at the front notes that this copy was formerly in the library of Charles Herbert (1644-1691), colonel of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, who was captured and killed in July 1691 at the Battle of Aughrim, the decisive battle in the Williamite campaign to defeat the Irish Jacobites. He was a cousin of Henry Herbert, fourth Baron Herbert of Cherbury, and had assumed the colonelcy after his cousin's death. His death at the hands of his captors has been a matter of some controversy in Irish history. The book's later owner, Thomas Philip de Grey, served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1841 to 1844.

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Duodecimo (158 x 96 mm), pp. [xi], [1] blank, 322, [1] errata. Contemporary gilt-panelled calf, neatly rebacked with original spine laid down, red morocco label, marbled endpapers, gilt edges.


Engraved title vignette portrait of the author.


Armorial bookplate of Thomas Philip de Grey, 2nd Earl de Grey (1781–1859), from his library at Wrest Park. A very good copy.


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