The Art of Conversation. In three parts. I. The Use and Benefit of Conversation in General, with Instructions to distinguish Good company from Bad. The noxious Nature of Solitude…II. Rules of Behaviour in Company Abroad, adapted to all Ranks and Degr
Guazzo, Stefano.

London: Printed for J. Brett… 1738. First edition under this title of this influential book on manners, polite speaking, and courtly behavior. The translator is unnamed. Engraved frontispiece. Binding lightly soiled, with small chip at foot of spine. Former owners’ ink notations on endpapers, including ones dated 1774, 1814 and 1830. Frontispiece with amateur attempt at hand coloring, chip at bottom of frontispiece (not affecting image), first gathering loose, lower margin of L2 with a piece torn away (not affecting text), ink blotch on Kk2 and Kk3. Some light browning. Still, a decent copy of a scarce book. Contemporary stiff vellum with title in manuscript on spine. Quarto. 278, [1, errata] pp. (Item ID: 13317)


The first English edition, translated from the French by George Pettie, appeared in 158; it was a translation of the first three books only. In 1586 another English edition appeared, incorporating Batholomew Young’s translation of Book Four. Since this translation is the first three books only, we suspect it is essentially the Pettie translation, though library cataloging has not been helpful on this score. The present edition was obviously well received by a new generation, being reprinted in 1759 and 1788. Guazzo (1530-93) studied law and spent most of his life in the service of the Gonzaga family. He set up the Accademia degli Illustrati in Casale Monferato in 1561. (Cf. Oxford Companion to Italian Literature.) Born the year after the death of Castiglione, Guazzo builds on the earlier writer’s Libro del cortegiano. The present work “…is an authentic epitome of domestic relations which is unsurpassed in the literature of the 16th century" (Lievsay, Stefano Guazzo and the English Renaissance, p. 33f.). It had an enormous influence in England and well as on the continent, and its readers included Shakespeare, Greene, Harvey, Spenser, Florio, Rich, Rowlands, and Swetnam.

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