Commentary on:
Petition from and Privilege granted to Pietro Fetti to translate, print and distribute works by St. Teresa of Avila from Spanish to Italian (1600)

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Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)

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Identifier: va_1600

 

Commentary on Petition from and Privilege granted to Pietro Fetti to translate, print and distribute works by St. Teresa of Avila from Spanish to Italian, Rome (1600)

Jane C. Ginsburg

 

Please cite as:

Ginsburg, J.C. (2022) ‘Commentary on Petition from and Privilege granted to Pietro Fetti to translate, print and distribute works by St. Teresa of Avila from Spanish to Italian, Rome (1600)', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

 

1. Italian translations of the works of St. Teresa

2. The Petition and Privilege

3. Persons mentioned


1. Italian translations of the works of St. Teresa

As shown by the series of petitions and privileges over Italian translations of the works of Teresa of Avila, written in the Castilian vernacular [https://www.copyrighthistory.org/cam/tools/request/showRecord.php?id=record_va_1603, Privilege granted to Francisco Soto to translate, print and distribute works by St. Teresa of Avila from Spanish to Italian; https://www.copyrighthistory.org/cam/tools/request/showRecord.php?id=record_va_1604, Petition from and Privilege granted to Cosimo Gaci to translate, print and distribute works by St. Teresa of Avila from Spanish to Italian], Italian Counter-Reformation literary entrepreneurs perceived a best-sellers’ market for these devotional classics.  The petition seeks exclusive rights to print and sell Italian translations of three works: The Life, St. Teresa’s autobiography, written in 1565, chronicles her childhood, education, and spiritual journey, and lays out her four-step process for achieving divine rapture; The Way of Perfection, written in 1566 for her order of Discalced Carmelites, is a guide to living a life of prayer and contemplation; the 1577 Interior Castle, imagines the human spirit as a many-roomed diamond castle where each room represents a stage of spiritual development and leads eventually to a closer communion with God.  These works were posthumously published in Spain. An Italian translation of the Life was published in Rome in 1599 but did not have a Papal privilege, see  Vita della m. Teresa di Giesù fondatrice delli monasteri e delle monache, et frati Carmelitani scalzi della prima regola. Tradotta dalla lingua spagnuola nell'italiana, dal reuerendiss. monsig. Gio. F - In Roma : appresso Guglielmo Facciotto, 1599 (Romae : apud Gulielmum Facciottum, 1599). 

 

2. The Petition and Privilege

Fetti’s petition indicates that he and his associates (the Petition and the Privilege reference Fetti’s “compagni” and “socii”) have not yet printed any of the three works.  Rather, it appears that Fetti was seeking the privilege as a means to raise the funds for the publication (“in which printing they have to make great expenditures”; “nella qual impressione dovendosi far molta spesa”).  Although Fetti and his associates did receive the privilege, there is no record of translations published by Fetti in 1600 or thereafter.  Failure to publish the Italian versions may have resulted in the privilege never entering into force, because it was effective “for ten years calculated from the first printing of the work . . .” (“… decennio proximo . . . impressione computando durante”).  The apparent lapsing of Fetti’s privilege may explain why three years later, and without reference to Fetti, the Pope granted a privilege to Francisco Soto for Italian translations of the same works. See https://www.copyrighthistory.org/cam/tools/request/showRecord.php?id=commentary_va_1603 Privilege granted to Francisco Soto to translate, print and distribute works by St. Teresa of Avila from Spanish to Italian.

 

3. Persons mentioned

Pietro Aldobrandini (1571 – 1621). Italian Catholic Cardinal and patron of the arts, made cardinal in 1593 by his uncle, Pope Clement VIII.

Marcello Vestrio Barbiani (? – 1606). Cardinal-Secretary of Brevi (papal letters). The son of a famous lawyer, Barbiani joined the Papal court after his wife, a Roman noblewoman, passed away. In 1596, he was granted a canonicate in the Vatican Basilica. Barbiani served in various capacities under Gregory XIV, Clement VIII, and Paul V, before passing at a very old age shortly before July 9th, 1606.  See Giammaria Mazzuchelli, Gli scrittori d’Italia. Vol. 2,1 at 178 (1758).

Pietro Fetti (dates unknown). Fetti was a publisher and bookseller originally from Florence and active in both Rome and Venice.

St. Teresa of Avila (1515 – 1582). Spanish saint, mystic, and author. She entered a Carmelite convent at 20 and later founded her own order, the Discalced Carmelites. In her lifetime Teresa of Avila garnered fame as an author of Counter-Reformation treatises as well as spiritual memoirs, in which she documented the intense heavenly visions she often experienced. The Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598 – 1680) immortalized one such episode in his sculpture The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, which depicts Teresa swooning as an angel prepares to pierce her chest with a golden arrow. Teresa of Avila was not canonized until 1622, which explains why the petition refers to her as only “Madre Teresa.”


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