The Pre-Malatesta (1367-1371) and the Malatesta (1373) “forms”

In April 1367 Malpaghini left his work for Petrarch for reasons that are not known. At this point, when Petrarch became copyist of his own poems, for Wilkins begins the sixth “form” of the Rvf or Pre-Malatesta (1367-1371). Petrarch introduced new poems to a collection that was now inclusive of 238 poems in Part One and 80 poems in Part two. Wilkins divides the elaboration of this “form” into 4 periods (Wilkins 170-175). He thinks that this “form” is followed by the “Malatesta form” (1373) named after Petrarch's friend Pandolfo Malatesta who requested him a copy of his poetry collection.

On January 4, 1373 Petrarch sent to Pandolfo a copy of the Rvf in which he introduced seven new poems in Part one (121, 199, 239-243) and 5 in Part 2 (339-342 and 344). Recent criticism and philology hold that poem 199 was not added to the Malatesta (Zamponi, 31; Salvatore, 100-101). For Wilkins the late fourteenth-century apograph manuscript XLI.17 from the Laurenziana Library in Florence attests this form. Beside poem 366 there is a marginal note that reads, “in fine libri ponatur,”  which means that Petrarch had decided to close his collection with the prayer to the Virgin (poem 366). Along with the copy of the Rvf Petrarch sent to Pandolfo a letter that is revealing of his intentions and the ways in which he was working. In the postscriptum to this letter he mentioned the need to come to a more punctual and accurate systematization of his collection by using very hard to read old schedulae. For this reason he left wide open spaces between the first and the second part of the manuscript sent to Pandolfo:

Sunt apud me huius generis vulgarium adhuc multa, et vetustissimis schedulis, et sic senio exeis ut vix legi queant. E quibus, si quando unus aut alter dies otiosus affulserit, nunc unum nunc aliud elicere soleo, pro quodam diverticulo laborum; sed perraro, ideoque mandavi quod utriusque in fine bona spatia linquerentur: et si quidquam occurret, mittam tibi reclusum nichilominus in papyro.

(Wilkins 176-177; Francesco Petrarca and Giuseppe Fracassetti 323).

From this postscriptum we can gather that when Petrarch wrote the letter to Pandolfo he was still expecting to make additions to each of the two parts of the Rvf (Wilkins 185). The order of the poems in the Malatesta “form”  is the following: 1-3-2-4-79, 81-82, 80, 83-120, 122,  “Donna mi vene spesso nella mente”, 123-242, 121, 243; 264-339, 342, 340, 351-354, 350, 355, 366.


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