First edition of the "most pornographic book" of the 17th century, no copy recorded at auction for the last 60 years

[Pallavicino, Ferrante]. La Retorica delle puttane. Composta conforme li precetti di Cipriano. Dedicata alla università delle cortegiane più celebri.

"Cambrai" (but Venice), 1642.

12mo. (153) pp., final blank f. Marbled half calf (c. 1780) with giltstamped spine labels and floral endpapers. All edges sprinkled in red.


Almost unobtainable first edition of the author's most notorious work: "Prima ediz. stamp. colla falsa data di Cambrai nel 1642" (Libr. Vinciana, p. 21). The "libro più pornografico e più aretinesco del '600" (Q. Marini, P. Aretino nel '600, in: P. Aretino nel cinquecentenario della nascita, p. 486). "The Rhetoric of Whores"), a scandalous anti-Jesuit work, "demonstrates why Pallavicino was the only Italian author of his epoch capable of a coherent vision that integrated satire, skepticism, and naturalistic morality" (Muir, Culture Wars [Cambridge: Harvard, 2007], p. 90). The book is written in the form of a dialogue between an aged prostitute and her naive apprentice. The fifteen lessons of the old whore were based on Cipriano Suarez's "De arte rhetorica", the manual used in Jesuit schools. Muir pointedly notes, "By systematically pursuing the parallels between rhetorical persuasion and erotic seduction, Pallavicino demonstrates how the high art of rhetoric has the same instrumental character as the lowly deceptions of the prostitute." - Some browning throughout. Prettily bound; removed from the Nádasdy library with stamp on title page. Exceedingly rare: no copy in auction records internationally; the earliest recorded copy sold in 1960 (another false "Cambrai" imprint, dated 1644).


BL (Italian Books) 647. OCLC 65523066. Cf. Libr. Vinciana 75 (1673 Villafranca ed. only). Englisch 605. Brunet IV, 1251.

Stock Code: BN#29537 Tags: , ,