August 18, 2004
Quotation Of The Day

Francesco Petrarca (1346):

Divine favour has freed me from most human passions, but one insatiable lust remains which hitherto I have been neither able nor willing to master. I cannot get enough books. Perhaps I already have more than I need; but it is with books as it is with other things: success in acquisition spurs the desire to find still more. Books, indeed, have a special charm. Gold, silver, gems, purple raiment, a house of marble, a well-tilled field, paintings, a steed with splendid trappings: things such as these give us only a silent and superficial pleasure. Books delight us profoundly, they speak to us, they give us good counsel, they enter into an intimate companionship with us.

This is from a letter written in 1346. If anyone has the original text, presumably either Latin or Italian, I would appreciate a copy. An exact date would be almost as good. I only know this from an advertisement of The Petrarch Press, xeroxed by a friend many years ago. A friend, I should say, who has gone even further down the road from bibliophilia to biblioholism.

The list of desirable things needs only a little revision for contemporaries: most of us would rather have a Porsche or a Rolls Royce than even the finest steed, and most of us wouldn't be caught dead wearing purple clothes, which are no more expensive than other colors today if we do want them.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at August 18, 2004 12:22 PM

What a lovely expression of sentiment!

According to this pdf file, the quote is from

Epistolae Familiares III 18, in Petrarch at Vaucluse: Letters in Verse and Prose Translated by Ernest Hatch Wilkins, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958.

Posted by: S. Worthen on August 23, 2004 08:53 PM

I may have seen it before and forgotten, but now I have made a copy to put on my door. Thanks.

Posted by: D. Cross on September 18, 2004 08:38 PM