London: John Murray, 1821. First edition. Hardcover. Quarto (9 x 6"). XXI, , 261, pp. Uncut. Later 19th-century gilt-lined 3/4 morocco over marbled paper covered boards, with gold lettering and tooling to spine. Raised bands. Top edge gilt. Marbled endpapers. Binding signed by Zaehnsdorf* on inside of front free endpaper.
Set in Venice in 1355, "Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice" is a blank verse tragedy in five acts by Lord Byron, who was inspired to take on this subject when, on examining the portraits of the Doges in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, he discovered that the portrait of Faliero had been blacked out.
The play tells the story of recently elected Doge of Venice Marino Faliero, who offends one of the chief officers of state, Michel Steno. Steno retaliates by writing on the Doge's throne an indecent libel on Faliero's wife. For this he is tried by the Council of Forty and convicted, but is only sentenced to a month's imprisonment. Faliero is so outraged by this, as he believes, inadequate punishment that he secretly joins in the conspiracy of a group of malcontents to overthrow the constitution of Venice, thinking thereby to gain revenge on his enemies. The plot is discovered and Faliero is executed.
The main historical source Lord Byron drew on was Marino Sanuto's "Vite dei Doge" (published posthumously in 1733). He completed the play in July 1820, by which time he was living in Ravenna, and published it in April 1821, along with his "The Prophecy of Dante."
Written at Ravenna during the month of June 1819, "The Prophecy of Dante" was intended for the Italians as a vision of "liberty and the resurrection of Italy" (see Medwin, "Conversations," (1824), page 241).
Corners and head and tail of spine slightly rubbed. Foxing to very first and very last leaves. Minor and sporadic foxing throughout. Binding in overall good+, interior in good+ to very good condition. g+ to vg. Item #41410
* A native of Budapest, Joseph Zaehnsdorf (1816-1886) was a celebrated Austria-Hungarian bookbinder who began his bookbinding career at the age of just 15 years old, as an apprentice. He founded his own binding firm in London when he was in his mid-twenties. His work won awards and critical acclaim at many exhibitions throughout Europe. A version of the Zaehnsdorf company is still in operation today, having merged with another prestigious London bookbinding company, Sangorski & Sutcliffe. The combined company was bought by Shepherds, another bookbinding company, in 1998 and still operates today.