The History of Rinaldo Rinaldini

Such is indeed the common course of human affairs. We talk of that as at a distance which is close to us, run after phantoms, and neglect what really exists.

Call it pulp fiction, call it Harlequin romance, this late 1790's work by Christian August Vulpius, became immensely popular, despite that literati treated it with disdain, if not outright horror. And then? So widely imitated was it, that it was quickly forgotten, and wound up in the dustbin of literature. This is a political parable, perhaps? Rinaldo Rinaldini at least has one scholastic defender: Edward T. Larkin, who wrote this article. See also this not unsympathetic essay by Lars Sanders.

John Hinckley1 produced a three-volume English translation in 1800 (London: Longman & Rees), which is not freely available online:2 Volumes I & II comprise the original novel, while Volume III is the author's 1800 sequel, entitled Ferrandino. My online sources are from American editions, pirated from England, an all-too-common practice in those days. [In fact, literary piracy worked both directions across the ocean, to the extent that Charles Frederick Briggs was himself a strong advocate of international copyright law.]

The text is taken primarily from this scan of the 1848 edition (Philadelphia: John B. Perry), the only one I could find comprising both Volumes I and II of Hinckley's translation. I checked the text against this scan of the 1824 edition (Boston: T. M. Baker), which is better in that it has fewer typographical errors, but only consists of Volume I. A scan exists of an 1832 edition of Volume II, but it is abridged, and I only used it as a backup; a scan also exists of Volume III from the same edition, which I have not transcribed.

Note that the author's name is consistently spelled "Vulvius" in the available editions, and that J. Hinckley is spelled "I. Hinkley:" I have taken the liberty of correcting this. Also—aside from fixing obvious typographical errors—where variations in spelling occur, I typically apply the most commonly occurring form. Variations in capitalization (especially of noble titles), however, are generally left alone.

So here it is: the master HTML version, the home-brew Kindle version, and the actual Amazon publication.

As Rinaldo says: "Come, less argument, and more liquor!"

January 26, 2021


1A "man of singularly penurious habits," according to his entry in Bibliotheca Britannica, 1824, p. 498. See also the December 1814 account of his death in The Gentleman's Magazine, v. 84, pt. 2, p. 609.

2Available on a restricted basis from Gale ECCO through subscribing academic institutions; see the WorldCat entry for details. The closest physical location to me of a library subscribing to Gale is in Gallup, NM. Were it not for the current pandemic situation, I would have considered travelling there, as a fun trip, in order to access that text.

ffred's nearly-forgotten treasures