In 2012, Piermarco Terminiello discovered the previously lost Second Book of Nicoletto Giganti in the Howard de Walden collection, which is housed at the Wallace Collection (in my not very humble opinion, one of the top ten museums worldwide, and in the top five for anything sword-related).
You may recall my rejoicing when the 1608 was discovered, and translated by Piermarco, published as “The ‘Lost’ Second Book of Nicoletto Giganti (1608)“. But unfortunately, no images of the original book’s text were released so it was impossible to check Piermarco’s work. It’s not that I doubt him, it’s just that I do not trust any translation without being able to check it against the original. I should also point out that his Italian is WAY better than mine.
But still, I have to check.
I came to the Wallace yesterday and photographed the entire book, and intend to make a transcription of it which can be published, and meanwhile work on getting permission from the de Walden trustees to release my photos into the wild. I also spent some time doing an initial check of the translation, and to my complete lack of surprise, can confirm that it is very good.
In my brief survey, I only came across one instance of a term that I think is simply incorrect; on page 2 Giganti wrote “…tirar di punte di piede fermo,” which Piermarco translates (on page 25) as “delivering a lunge”. It is not— it is ‘thrust with the fixed foot”. As you can see on page 7 of the 1628 edition of his first book (from the photographs taken at the National Fencing Museum), Giganti very clearly explains the lunge, and calls it a ’stoccata longa’, and it explicitly includes a step forwards (crescer innanzi).
The translation does veer towards interpretation in places, such as in these examples:
On page 21r, Giganti wrote this chapter heading: “IL MODO DI ANDAR CONTRA TVTTE LE GVARDIE, E FERIR in più modi mentre che’l nemico caua la Spada” [the CAPS are in the original]
Which Piermarco translates on page 68 as: “THE METHOD OF ADVANCING AGAINST ANY GUARD, AND ATTACKING IN VARIOUS WAYS WHILE YOUR ENEMY DISENGAGES HIS SWORD”
But which I would render as: “The way of going against all the guards, and striking in more ways while the enemy disengages the sword”. [Though I’d probably also use caps where Giganti does.]
Indeed, ‘ferire’ is (in all the cases that I noted) translated as “attack”, which I don’t quite agree with. It means to strike or wound. Sure, in a fencing context you do that by attacking, but my pedantic soul revolts at the liberty.
Likewise on page 47v, Giganti wrote: “NON mi posso immaginar la causa perche il giocar di pugnal solo non sia hoggi giorno in uso.”
Which Piermarco translates on page 129 as: “I cannot fathom why the play of the dagger alone is no longer practised.”
It’s correct, in that it represents the meaning of the text, but I would render it as “I cannot imagine the cause for which the play of the dagger alone is not practised these days.”
Whenever you’re using a translation, it’s good to know how closely it hews to the manner and voice of the author. In rendering Giganti’s words so clearly, Piermarco is helping the modern practitioner access the text, but at the cost of tidying up some of the language.
I’ve been wanting to do this ever since the translation came out, so can now cross it off my bucket list. Huzzah! I’d like to thank Helen Jones of the Wallace Collection who was very helpful in making the book available. She also told me that the de Walden books are currently being catalogued, and most of them can now be found (as in their catalogue entries, not the texts themselves) online.
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