MENDOZA, Fray Iñigo de (c.1425-c.1507). Vita Christi fecho por coplas -Sermon trovado sobre el yugo y coyunda que el rey D. Fernando trae por divisa. Zamora: Antonio de Centenera, 25 January 1482.
Chancery half-sheet 4° (197 x 138mm). Collation: a-e8 (a1-e2v Vita Christi, e3r-7v Sermon, e7v colophon, e8 blank). 38 leaves (of 40, lacking e1 and without final blank); a3.6 and 4.5 reversed in binding. 35 lines (variable), double column; usually three 10-line stanzas per column. Type: 2[Haebler 1]:75G. (Stained, browned, strengthening at some hinges and margins, top two lines of text shaved on d1v.) 19th-century mottled sheep, flat spine gilt in compartments with red leather label (a few scuffs); modern brown morocco folding box tooled in gilt and blind. Provenance: contemporary annotations -- [sale Paris, 'Bibliothèque d'un Ancien Diplomate', Drouot (C. Galantaris, expert), 10 March 2000, lot 140].
ONE OF ONLY 2 KNOWN COPIES OF THE FIRST EDITION OF THE EARLIEST PRINTED POETRY IN CASTILIAN. The Franciscan Fray Iñigo Mendoza was one of the most popular and beloved Spanish poets of his time. His innovative combination of the classical with the populist troubadour style influenced his own and future generations of writers. The Vita Christi is his major work. Although it comprises nearly 4000 lines of octosyllables, the Vita extends only to the Massacre of the Innocents; supplementary material such as moral and social comment and the incorporation of earlier secular Spanish verse contributes to its length. It has many dramatic elements and 'may have contributed to the development of religious drama' (Deyermond, Literary History of Spain, p. 196).
The well-thumbed condition of the present volume is evidence of its popularity. The text has been carefully annotated by an early owner WITH EMENDATIONS WHICH APPEAR TO REFLECT UNIQUE READINGS OF THIS IMPORTANT SPANISH POEM. Almost none of the emendations is incorporated either in the edition printed shortly thereafter at the same press, or in the 1502 Seville edition (the rarity of all early editions has hindered collation with them); a few, but not all, are reflected in the modern critical edition (ed. Marco Massoli, 1977, established primarily with reference to manuscripts and the 1502 Seville edition). The most substantial additions are lines of verse omitted in print (Zamora and Seville editions), one at stanza 167, line 9, and the other at stanza 268, line 8, both of which vary from the modern critical text.
THE FIRST BOOK PRINTED AT ZAMORA. Centenera's printing programme was notable for its Spanish character, and even his types 'owe nothing to foreign influences' (BMC X, lxii). According to Palau, this edition contains the FIRST PRINTED REFERENCE TO THE MODERN SPANISH STATE in Mendoza's accompanying political sermon addressed to Ferdinand as King of Castile and Aragon. Owing to the extreme rarity of the earliest editions, they are often confused in bibliographies. This first quarto edition was quickly followed by Centenera's folio edition (Haebler(BI) 422), and a folio edition at Zaragoza (Goff M-488; Haebler(B) 421). H 11073; Haebler(BI) 420; Vindel(A) II, 241: 1 (VIII 195); IBE 3922 ('folio'); Palau 163762.