Shakespeare, William. Othello ossia Il Moro di Venezia. Tragedia del Cittadino Doucis. Tradotta dal Citt. Celestino Massucco Professore di Poetica nell' Università di Genova.

Bologna, Jacopo Marsigli ai Celestini, Stampatore di Finanza, [ca. 1800?].

12mo. 95 pp, (1). Bound in original printed cartonnato with publisher's advertisement on rear cover.


Extremely rare early edition of this Italian translation of Othello, appearing just two years after the first printed translation of that play into Italian. Modern studies of Shakespeare in Italy, and indeed Anna Busi's exhaustive 'Otello in Italia, 1777-1972', entirely fail to mention Massucco's Othello. This copy has been preserved in its original publisher's printed wrappers, which suggest that Othello was one of a number of "most accredited theatrical works, which are today being sought out in vain by the intelligenti, and the lovers of good taste" (translation of the advertisement on the rear cover).

The first printed appearance of Othello in Italian dates to 1798, when Giustina Renier Michiel included it in her collection of translations from the French of Pierre-François Le Tourneur. Massucco's translation of Othello is thus the first to appear separately, and was composed under quite different circumstances. Unlike Michiel's version, Massucco chose the popular French adaptation of the play by Jean-François Ducis. 'Citizen' Massucco's translation of the French Othello (1792) was presumably spurred by the arrival of French troops in Genoa in 1797, when it was declared the capital of a Napoleonic 'Ligurian Protectorate'. While Ducis himself had been ambivalent towards the revolution, the inter-racial themes of Othello were looked upon favorably by the Republican government committed to equality, fraternity, and liberty for all citizens regardless of color (cf Potter, Othello, p. 60).

Pages 90-95 here contain an alternative rendering by Massucco of Scene 4, Act V, which is apparently much more successful in performance than the original, "che far non possono in Teatro che un miserabile effetto". Massucco also translates an alternate ending of the play composed by Ducis to placate French audiences unused to full-blown tragedy: Othello's friends arrive on the scene just in time to stop him from murdering 'Ersilia' (Massucco's adaptation of Ducis' 'Hédelmone', in turn based on Desdemona). It is interesting to note that Massucco chooses rather odd names for his characters, far removed from Ducis' which are themselves far removed from Shakespeare's originals. Thus the only name faithfully preserved through these iterations is in fact Othello's.

The first (Genoa) edition of Massucco's translation is held only at the Folger, according to OCLC, although Ferrari notes a copy at the Bibliotheca Marciana in Venice. The present second edition, printed in nearby Bologna, is recorded in a single Italian copy in ICCU and in single US copy in OCLC (at Harvard).

Spine with slight loss and strengthened with tissue; title-page foxed; small wormtrack in blank inner margin, touching text on last two leaves; scattered light staining throughout. A very genuine copy in a near-original state.

OCLC 78445284. ICCU CFIE\044470. Cf. Ferrari, Traduzioni italiane del teatro tragico francese, p. 196. On the Ducis Othello, cf. Potter, Othello, pp. 59-61 (2002).

Stock Code: BN#48783 Tag: