Hypnerotomachia Poliphili has ratings and 28 reviews. cinquecento anni da quando Aldo Manuzio, primo e inarrivato fra gli editori di letteratura, pubblicò . Attributed to Francesco Colonna (c. ). This book is an incunable, or book printed between and The allegorical romance. We list editions of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, with some copy La hypnerotomachia di Poliphilo. Le songe de Poliphile ou hypnerotomachie de frère Francesco Colonna litéralement traduit pour la première fois, avec.

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Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

Poliphilo sleeps and dreams The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili relates the story of the dream of Poliphilo ‘in which it is shown that all human things are but a dream, and many other things worthy of knowledge and memory. As the work opens, the inconsolable Poliphilo is tormented by insomnia as he thinks of his unrequited love for Polia.

At last he falls asleep, and then seemingly wakes in a dark wood where his adventures begin. In a somewhat labyrinthine plot, he moves through many strange places encountering dragons, wolves, and maidens, against an ever changing backdrop of mysterious ruins, monuments, orchards, gardens and fountains.

Following triumphal processions and further spectacles, the nymph reveals that she is in fact that Polia ‘whom you love so well’. After a ceremony resembling marriage, they embark for Cythera in Cupid’s boat. Polia then takes over the narrative, relating how Poliphilo fell in love with her when he first glimpsed her combing her hair at a window in Treviso.

Not only does she reject his advances, but to fulfil a pledge in surviving the plague, she dedicates herself to a life of eternal chastity. Poliphilo visits her secretly at the temple of Diana, and when he falls into a deathlike swoon at her feet, she drags his body away and hides it.

But Cupid appears to her in a vision, and compels her to return and kiss Poliphilo back to life.

Venus blesses their love, and the lovers are united at last. The overall literary merit of this work is debatable, and some critics have dismissed it as unreadable. Certainly it is written in an odd hybrid of Latin vocabulary imposed upon Italian syntax; this idiosyncratic language would probably have been as difficult for sixteenth century readers as it is today.

Attributed to Francesco Colonna

Others have seen the text as a stereotypical product of its time. Liane Lefaivre, for instance, suggests that it is in many ways a nondescript example of ‘a highly stylized genre’. Professor Weiss, meanwhile, declared it to be ‘a serious runner up for the title of most boring work in Italian literature’.

But its torturous plot and prose have been interpreted by some as a true reflection of the unconscious and mysterious world of the dreamer. Painter eloquently argues that the author ‘felt that reality itself is mysterious, and may legitimately be described in terms of mystery; that only perplexing symbols, labyrinthine narrative, and intentionally impenetrable prose-style can express the night-world of the unconscious mind’.

More recently, Joscelyn Godwin praises the work’s intensity of atmosphere, describing it as a sustained erotic fantasy ‘saturated with the desire to gaze, to taste, and to consume’.

The book has, however, been universally and justly celebrated for its beautiful woodcuts and overall sumptuous design. It should be remembered that at the time it was produced inthe inclusion of woodcut illustrations in printed books was still a relatively new phenomenon. Although the number of elaborately illustrated volumes increased throughout the s, this work is exceptional for the way in which the woodcuts integrate harmoniously with the text, following the plot with a closeness unparalleled in other fifteenth-century books.

Poliphilo flees a dragon folio a3v: Poliphilo enters a dense and pathless forest. Poliphilo is embraced by Thelemia To Painter, the haunting woodcuts seem entirely modern ‘in their passion and calm, their strangeness and reality, their startling but nobly classical carnality and paganism’.


The name of their artist, however, is not known. Evidently possessing extraordinary range and ability, several contenders have been suggested, including Mantegna, Bellini and Carpaccio. The woodcuts are undoubtedly influenced by such artists, but no satisfactory solution as to the real identity of their creator has yet been reached. The work is further lauded for the originality of its design.

Several sequential double page illustrations add a visual dimension poliiphili the progression of the narrative, and act like an early form of the strip cartoon. There is an obsession with movement throughout which is driven on by the illustrations, resulting in the impression of bodies moving from one page to the next. Other typographical innovations include playing with the traditional layout of the text; in the opening shown here, for example, the pages are shaped in the form of goblets.

Although it is by no means a practical manual on the subject, Poliphilo encounters numerous buildings, ornaments, gardens and sculptures on his journey. Many of these are described in detail in the text, as well as being portrayed in the colpnna.

Indeed, architecture as with everything else in the book is eroticised: Poliphilo treats buildings as objects of desire and enjoys touching and caressing many of them, thus metaphorically demonstrating his feelings for Polia. While the name Polphilo translates as ‘lover of Polia’, it can also mean ‘lover of many things’, and truly this seems to be the case.

As the colophon above states, the book was ‘most accurately done at Venice, in the month of December,at the house of Aldus Manutius’. Aldus settled in Venice – the printing capital of the late fifteenth century – in He set out to produce accurate editions of the Greek and Latin classics, and it is his great scholarly achievement in Greek printing that has ensured his fame. The first volume of his monumental works of Aristotle appeared on 1 Novemberand in the following ten years he achieved a remarkable body of work in Greek.

The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is untypical of his usual output in several ways. Not only is it the only illustrated book that he produced, but it is also unique amongst his major works for being produced on commission. Ironically, while prized as one of the treasures of Renaissance printing today, the book originally sold badly and could not be exported as a result of ongoing wars.

Polia drags the lifeless Poliphilo into a corner of the temple folio r3r: The beautiful Bembo type with which this work is printed was one of the most modern in appearance of the fifteenth century types, and is still a standard used today. A ‘Roman’ as opposed to Gothic style font had been invented earlier by another acclaimed printer, Nicholas Jenson; it was based upon humanist calligraphers’ attempts to recreate the script of classical antiquity.

It was recut and improved for its second appearance in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. This particular work is also interesting typographically for containing Greek fonts, as well as one of the earliest examples of Hebrew type, and a small example of Arabic – the first Arabic to be printed in the history of European publishing.

There is, however, one example of a mistake that was rectified with great deliberation. Rather than reset the page and print it again, in all the surviving paper copies the incorrect ‘E’ has been scratched out and ‘AM’ stamped in its place, as shown somewhat lopsidedly here.

Poliphilo and Polia leave the sacred fountain.

Another facet of the book that has delighted readers are its innumerable puns and riddles. One ingenuity hints at the identity of the author of this otherwise anonymous text. It seems that the ‘secret’ writer of this erotic fantasy was a Dominican monk called Francesco Colonna.

He belonged to the monastery of SS. Giovanni e Paolo in Venice and it is known that at the supposed time of composition of the work in he was teaching novices in Treviso. Therefore, it is quite possible that he could have spied ‘Polia’ combing her hair at a window there.


A few other details are known of his life, including the intriguing fact that in he was ordered to repay a sum provided by the Order for the printing of a book – could he have contributed to the cost of actually having this book produced? He died in October at the age of Polia, if she existed, is a more elusive character to identify, although it is suggested that she may have been a member of the prominent Lelio family of Treviso.

This copy of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is from the eighteenth century library of William Hunterbut it is not known how or from whom he acquired the book or who owned it originally. There is some evidence that an early reader paid close attention to the text, however, as someone has gone through the book carefully making corrections, as can be seen here on the left. Polia brings Poliphilo back to life with a kiss As we revel in all things romantic for Valentine’s Day, it may be sobering to reflect on the ultimate outcome of Poliphilo’s story.

After his many adventures and trials and not without a little intervention from Cupid’s well placed arrowit seems that he eventually wins the heart of Polia. But do they live happily ever after? As they finally embrace and kiss, Polia vanishes with a cry of ‘Poliphilo, my dear lover, farewell’.

It is dawn on the 1st May,and Poliphilo is in Treviso. His dream is ended hypnerotomxchia he fracnesco left ‘filled to the brim with a sweet and loquacious illusion’. Everything that has passed has been his fantasy.

Other items of interest Other Editions: La Hypnerotomachia di Poliphilo, cioe pugna d’amore in sogno. Dov’ egli mostra, che tutte le cose humane non sono altro che sogno: Ristampato di novo et ricorretto Second edition of the first French translation; edited by Jean Martin Hypnerotomachie, ou Bypnerotomachia du songe de Poliphile, deduisant comme amour le combat a l’occasion de Polia Nouuellement traduict de langage italien en francois Paris: H9E ; facsimile reprint of the Elizabethan version: The strife of love in a dream London: Aristophanes Aristophanis comoediae novem: Theophrasti de historia plantarum libri X.

Cyrilli opusculum De dictionibus, quae uariato accentu mutant significatum Ammonius De differentia dictionum Nikandrou tou Kolophoniou Theriaka meta scholion. Marci Manilii Astronomicorum libri quinque. Arati Phaenomena, Germanico Caesare interprete, cum commentariis et hypnerotomxchia Genus Theocriti et de inventione bucolicorum. Catonis Romani Sententiae paraeneticae distichi For an example of another Venetian incunable, see the feature on Jenson’s Breviary.

The following were useful colonnw compiling this article: H9E G ; George D.

15 best Hypnerotomachia Poliphili images on Pinterest | Aldo, Editor and Printmaking

Painter ‘The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili of Part of the Library and University Services. Please note that these pages are from our old pre website; the presentation francdsco these pages may now appear outdated and may not always comply hypnerotomachua current accessibility guidelines.

Arguably the most beautiful book of the Venetian Renaissance, our hypnerotoamchia of the month for February tells the story of a quest for lost love. Published in by the renowned printer Aldus Manutius, this magnificently crafted volume is illustrated with woodcuts by an unknown artist.

Poliphilo enters a dense and pathless forest folio i2v: Poliphilo is embraced by Thelemia. Poliphilo and Polia leave the sacred fountain Another facet of the book that has delighted readers are its innumerable puns and riddles. Poliphilo sleeps and dreams.