From 1538, the year of the first publication of Aretino’s collection of Lettere, the Italian book market was overrun by hundreds of editions of epistolary collections. The reason lays in how well the genre served a variety of purposes; their language, for example, couched as they were in the idiom of high officialdom but still setting examples of the correct usage of the Italian vernacular. Not least, was their function as bearer of chronicles of contemporary events and famous personalities. The publication in 1564 of Sansovino’s Del secretario launched a new genre of epistolary: the book was not only a collection of letters, but also a treatise on the role and function of the court secretary. Subsequently, texts and indexes took to being organized by rhetorical typology which enhanced their relevance. In the end, however, the standardized models that prevailed were bereft of any reference to contemporary events.
Ibid. vol. 4 p. 399: Rome 11 December1541‘Le mie lettere non voglio che si stampino per niente a questi tempi [. . .]; saranno poi quando Dio vorrà e io ve’l farò intendere. Procurate solamente che non se ne stampi più alcuna se pur alcuno volesse ciò fare’.
Braida op. cit. (n. 1) p. 292.
Braida op. cit. (n. 1) pp. 101-60.
R. Chartier‘Culture écrite et littérature à l’âge moderne’Annales. Histoire Sciences Sociales56 (2001) nos. 4-5 pp. 783-803 p. 800: ‘Oublier cette double historicité de l’écrit c’est risquer l’anachronisme qui impose aux textes anciens des formes et des significations qui leur étaient tout à fait étrangerès’. See also L. Braida ‘La doppia storicità del testo nella riflessione di Roger Chartier’ in: Testi forme e usi del libro. Teorie e pratiche di cultura editoriale ed. L. Braida A. Cadioli (Milano 2007) pp. 26-38.
A. Jacobson Schutte‘The “Lettere Volgari” and the Crisis of Evangelism in Italy’Renaissance Quarterly28 (1975) pp. 639-88 p. 658: ‘They wanted news about current events and prominent personalities and in the absence of modern techniques of ‘instant journalism’ they could tolerate a time-lag in receiving it’.