Category Archives: books

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, via Thames & Hudson; also offers images of the woodcuts. T&H, in 1999, published an english translation of the text; they attribute Francesco Colonna as the author.

Here is the book jacket text :

It is hard to believe that the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, printed by Aldus Manutius in 1499, one of the most famous books in the world, read by every Renaissance intellectual and endlessly referred to in studies of art and culture ever since, has never appeared in English. One reason, no doubt, is the length and difficulty of the text. It is a strange, pagan, pedantic, erotic, allegorical, mythological romance relating in highly stylized Italian the quest of Poliphilo for his beloved Polia. The author (presumed to be Francesco Colonna, a friar of dubious reputation) was obsessed by architecture, landscape and costume – it is not going too far to say sexually obsessed – and its 174 woodcuts are a primary source for Renaissance ideas on both buildings and gardens. In 1592 a beginning was made to produce an English version but the translator gave up after only a third of the text. Now, at last, the task has been triumphantly accomplished by Joscelyn Godwin, who succeeds in reproducing all its wayward charm and arcane learning in language accessible to the modern reader.

Liane Lefaivre, in 1997, attributes the book to Leon Battista Alberti.

Codex99 considered it.


Memorial University has a biographical page.