Le sorti di Francesco Marcolino da Forlì intitolate giardino d’i pensieri was published in Venice in 1540 and in a revised edition in 1550. Then, as with all divinatory texts, it fell foul of the Index librorum prohibitorum.
Hitherto the author had been known only as a publisher, as a connaisseur of engineering and mechanics and as a compare of Pietro Aretino and an intimate of Titian and Sansovino.
For his debut as a writer Marcolini invited some of the leading artists and literary figures in Venice around the end of the 1530s to collaborate in the venture (Lodovico Dolce for the 2.250 terzine containing the same number of responsi; Giuseppe Porta and other artists who remain anonymous for the frontispiece and the 100 engravings of the figurative illustrations). Working within an age-old tradition that precluded neither the direct use of conventional material nor simple adaptations of such material, updated in time and place, nor indeed more radical reworkings, Marcolini devised a highly individual approach. He gave priority to the figurative components and those of a ludic-combinatory nature. In this sense his work was a cultural operation, profoundly innovative and a creative masterpiece.
The result, now republished in an anastatic edition, was a unique work of the highest level, stimulatingly original and astonishing in its overall impact. Its quality ensured that it became famous as an expression of high Renaissance civilization, which within a few short years would be dulled by the chill and gloom of the pronouncements of the Council of Trent.
Paolo Procaccioli teaches Italian literature at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo. His work has focused mainly on the vernacular literature of the Renaissance, including research around the exegesis of the works of Dante, the post-Boccaccio novella and the “alternative” literature of the 16th century. He edited the CD-ROM I commenti danteschi dei secoli XIV, XV e XVI (Lexis, Rome 1999), and editions of Cristoforo Landino (Comento sopra la Comedia di Dante, Salerno Editrice, Rome 2001), of the Novella del Grasso legnaiuolo (Fondazione Bembo-Guanda, Milan-Parma 1990), of Pietro Aretino (Lettere, ll. 1-6, and Lettere scritte a Pietro Aretino, ll. 1-2, Salerno Editrice, Rome 1997-2002 and 2003-2004), of Ortensio Lando (La sferza de’ scrittori antichi et moderni, Vignola, Rome 1995), and of Anton Francesco Doni (Contra Aretinum, Vecchiarelli, Manziana 1998).