12mo [15.4 x 8.5 cm], (1) f. integral blank, (10) ff., 538 pp., (1) f. integral blank, lacking blank A2, woodcut device on half-title, title-page printed in red and black, woodcut tailpieces and initials. Bound in contemporary vellum, title in manuscript on spine. Minor rubbing to binding. Occasional minor to moderate spotting, a few marginal mends.
Rare 1718 first Italian-language edition – published in the same year as the French original – of the only book you will ever need. Penned by the cleric Noël Eudes de L’Arche, and here translated by Arione Rochi da Matalona, The One-Book Man, or An Entire Library in One Little Book was written for “one who has neither the time, nor the leisure, nor a long enough life to read thousands of authors.” The L’uomo di un Libro is a genre-defying text, a vademecum sleekly published in an easily portable duodecimo format, but at the same time a tome ponderous with the full weight of human history. In addition to being a fascinating record of what a European man of a certain education (but not of too much education!) was expected to know in the first quarter of the 18th century, the book can also be taken as an important document in the history of encyclopedias, annotated bibliography, digests, and abridgements, a tradition which runs from (for example) Petrus Comestor’s Historia Scholastica and Hartmann Schedel’s Nuremberg Chronicle, all the way to the rise of abridged novels in the 19th century and CliffsNotes in the 20th.
Organized in five parts, the work begins with the creation of the universe as related by the Hebrew Bible, then moves year by year through Roman history, New Testament history, the Middle Ages from the reign of Charlemagne until the middle of the 16th century, before concluding with rise of the Ottoman Empire from the fall of Constantinople up to the year 1715. Each of these parts is divided into several chapters headed with the name of an important figure, and each of these chapters further subdivided into sections on political/military history, religious history, and the arts & sciences. Far from being rigid, however, L’uomo di un Libro wanders among such topics as mythology, hunting, dyeing textiles, painting, music, medicine, poetry, theater, architecture, heraldry, military and ecclesiastical insignia, fortification, optics, physics, precious stones, and artillery. An index helps the reader flip to information on Julius Caesar, America, liturgy, China, Mohammed, painters, or meteors.
OCLC locates only 1 U.S. copy of this title, at the University of Chicago. A 1731 second Italian-language edition (no U. S. copies) and the 1718 first French-language edition (Michigan St., Wisconsin, and Minnesota) are also rare.
* Barbier, Anonymes, II, 854; P.M. Conlon, Le siècle des Lumières. Bibliographie chronologique, Genève, 1993, XI, p. 264.