In the course of my search for the Codex Seraphinianus (see below), I gathered that Luigi Serafini had one other book to his name, the intriguingly titled Pulcinellopedia Piccola. I scanned thousands of bookshop shelves during my two years in Italy, but never caught sight of a copy.
A couple of years ago, I chanced upon a single image that someone had scanned from the book and uploaded onto a commedia dell’arte-related site. This is the ‘pulcinellasaurus’ that I’ve since made the centrepiece of my Giornale’s logo.
Last year, after another web-search, I was heartened to see copies of the Pulcinellopedia listed for sale at an Italian web-site. Serafini, I learned, was not sole author of the work: one P. Cetrulo was listed as co-author. Frustratingly, the site did not offer international shipping.
Then, another web-search, maybe six weeks ago, brought another site to my attention: Unilibro. They had copies of the requisite item in stock, and promptly dispatched one to me. It arrived a few weeks ago: a white softcover quarto volume whose somewhat grubby exterior seemed to speak of a long, lonely time spent on shelves or in stacks. It had been published in 1984 by Longanesi of Milan.
The book comprises dozens of pencil illustrations, monochrome for the most part, beginning with a puppet-show depicted comic-strip style. After a couple of brief texts, the body of the book begins: a ‘suite’ in nine sections, some comprising many illustrations, others with just one. Anyone familiar with the Codex Seraphinianus will feel on familiar ground here, both with regard to the style of the illustrations, and to the sense of bafflement they provoke.
It is hard to discern any particular narrative in the drawings, or to follow any single thread through the ‘suite’, beyond the simple presence, howsoever disguised or distorted, of Pulcinella himself.
One of the several puzzling aspects of this book is its peculiar epigraph, which runs thus:
uuèn gud is gud
cchiùu blekk’e middenàit kennóttubbì
Which looks to me like garbled English rendered in Italian orthography: When good is good/cue(?) black midnight cannot be. What are they on about?
Clicking on most of the images above will open larger versions of the same.