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BARTOLI, Daniello. Dell’ Istoria della Compagnia di Giesu. L'Asia descritta dal P. Daniello Bartoli della medesima Compagnia. Parte Prima. Edizione terza accresciuta della missione al Mogor e della vita del P.Ridolfo Acquaviva. . Rome, Varese, 1667.

Folio, Engraved frontispiece signed Cornelius Bloemart after Jan Miele, (2) ff., including title and license, 663 pp., (4) ff.
[With:] Dell’ Historia della Compagnia di Giesu. Il Giappone. Seconda Parte dell’Asia. Rome, Lazzeri (but colophon: Varese), 1660. (2) ff., 839 pp., 508 pp., (8) ff., [including erratum and index], 1 integral blank.
[And with:] Dell’ Historia della Compagnia di Giesu. La Cina. Terza Parte dell’Asia. Rome, Varese, 1663. (4) ff., 1152 pp., (4), the latter including index and erratum.


Very rare set, in the best combination of editions (see below), of Bartoli’s three accounts of the Jesuit missions in Asia. The works were intended to cover the Jesuit experience in the Far East, including Japan and China since the Order's first arrival there in the mid-sixteenth century. The volume on China appeared just before Kircher’s China illustrata, and served as an important source for it.

Departing from the annalistic pattern followed in previous accounts of Jesuit relations, Bartoli arranged his history according to geographical divisions, giving each volume or sub-section thereof the character of an independent monograph, and allowing a depth of detail generally lacking in his predecessor's year-by-year enumeration of events.

The countries treated here include India, Malaysia, Persia, Goa, China and Japan. The last receives particular emphasis, both because it was the training ground for many of the missionaries subsequently posted elsewhere, and because of Bartoli's particular interest. He devotes considerable space to the early history of the mission and, as is to be expected, the religious practices of the indigenous population; he is especially fascinated by the organizational structure of the Bonzes, the Buddhist monks whom the Jesuits often successfully converted.

Bartoli undertook the task of writing the history of his Order when Jesuit influence throughout the world had begun to wane: the Japanese mission was destroyed in 1651, and the order had suffered severe criticism in Europe when some of its eclectic compromises with indigenous ritual in China and Malabar became widely known. From the standpoint of the historian's task—the need for eyewitnesses and access to documents—it was very much a now-or-never situation, since both would soon be gone in many more Jesuit strongholds. In the Order's defense, Bartoli accordingly attempts a grand synthesis of missionary activities, and his work is exceptional not only for its mastery of the historiographical tradition in the many and disparate countries where it operated missions, but for the infusion of new evidence.

Daniello Bartoli (1608-1685) was rector of the Collegio Romano, the principal Jesuit university. His major published works are histories of the first century of Jesuit activity in various parts of the world. He also wrote extensively on Italian literary matters and morals as well as popularizations of contemporary physicists. His style was admired during his lifetime, and still earns him a respected place in the history of Italian literature: the great poet Leopardi called him “the Dante of Italian prose.”

Bartoli produced a number of separately-issued histories of the Jesuit missions, covering Asia in general (1653), a more particular account of Japan (1660), and China (1663), as well as England (1667), and Italy (1673). According to de Backer / Sommervogel, the first part, L'Asia, went through at least 3 editions during Bartoli's lifetime, 1653 (Rome), 1656 (Genoa) and 1667 (Rome), the last one—offered here—being the most complete. The two remaining parts, on the other hand, were published separately in one edition each: Part Two, on Japan, in 1660 and Part Three, on China, in 1663. Contemporary ‘sets’ were evidently made of the first edition of Asia with the later Giappone and Cina (eg the Library of Congress record), as well as of the present expanded edition of Asia alongside Giappone and Cina (eg the Bell Library record). The present set at hand, therefore, is the most complete.

* Bibliographischer Alt-Japan-Katalog 162, 160,161; De Backer/Sommervogel I.970; Nino Majellaro, Daniello Bartoli. Giappone. Istoria della Compagna di Gesù. Milan, 1985, pp.7ff.

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