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Accessible Alberti

In response to:

The Master Builder from the January 26, 1978 issue

To the Editors:

Reviewing Franco Borsi’s Leon Battista Alberti in your issue of January 26, 1978, Kenneth Clark quotes a passage from the socalled “Anonymous Biography” of Alberti in the brief paraphrase or digest (less than one and one-half pages) printed in the Phaidon Press translation of Jacob Burckhardt’s The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (third edition: revised.) A footnote to Lord Clark’s quotation reads as follows: “This invaluable fragment (in a different translation) is printed in the volume under review. It has previously been almost inaccessible among the ‘Documenti Illustrativi’ in the introduction to Bonucci’s Opere volgari di Leon Battista Alberti, 1824.”

If in the second sentence of his footnote Lord Clark means to say that this work has not hitherto been available in English translation, this is not the case. I should like to call attention to the fact that it has been readily accessible since 1953 in a faithful translation of Bonucci’s text, in the edition of 1843, by Professor James Bruce Ross, printed in The Portable Renaissance Reader, edited by James Bruce Ross and Mary Martin McLaughlin (The Viking Press, 1953, 1968), pages 480-492, under the heading “Self-Portrait of a Universal Man.”

Mary Martin McLauglin

Millbrook

New York

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