I've just come back from the UCLA research library, and here's a summary of what I've figured out about this book.
There is no place in the book that is obviously Innocenncio Ringheri's 8888 trivia questions in 365 days. No sets of numbered questions with answers in the
back. However, there does appear to be a lot of general knowledge stuff in the book.
The layout of the book is 10 sections of 10 chapters each. The title of each chapter is Givocho dell <subject>. The last chapter of each section tended to
be long and contain poems, madrigals, and sonnets (called sonnetta, 14 lines long -- rhyming somewhat (this is in Italian, so a lot of the words end in O)).
There were no illustrations, no maps, no diagrams, and no chess boards (I could not figure out which part of the book had a chess game in it).
In general, each chapter consisted of four parts: A bunch of text, a list of some sort, another bunch of text, and what look to be like questions, although
there was a dearth of question marks (there were some, however, so I know that the punctuation mark did exist at the time).
Using just the titles and the lists, I could figure out what most of the early chapters were about. Chapter 11 was about Oceans and Seas (the list consisted
of words like Atlantico, Indio, Ionio), Chapter 14 Rivers (Rubicon, Arno, Gange, Nillo), Chapter 15 lakes (Lago Maggiore, Lago Como...), Chapter 16
islands (Corsica, Capri, Malta), Chapter 17 Cities... Section two seemed mostly to be Geography, and the two sonnets at the end of the chapter were
about oceans and Mount Etna.
Other easy to figure out chapters were about metals (oro, argento), gems (diamante, perla, rubino, zaphirro, asbestes!), and animals (leone, rinochero,
pantera, volpe, hyene),
My general impression of this stuff is that it is more of a cultural literacy guide than quiz book. The text after each list seemed to describe the items in the
list, and the question at the end seemed more like "further things to think about," or "questions left for the reader." They were not referenced elsewhere,
and as far as I can tell, no answers were given.
One thing that may throw people is the word giucho (spelled givocho in the text) seems to indicate games (from modern Italian). However, after
looking at the text for a couple of hours, it hit me that the book was very secular for the time (I could not find any God or Jesus references, and no
biblical trivia appeared in it as far as I can tell). So I'm wondering if the use of giocho in this context was one of "stuff to play around with."
In other words, non-serious stuff (as opposed to stuff related to your eternal soul). The book did have a lot of text about virtue, honor, and love, but
this seemed more like advice column type comments. And you have to admit that a sonnet to Mount Etna is pretty secular.
Anyway, the one chapter that I really got into was Chapter VI, "Givocho d'ell Celeste Figure" The list consisted of names like Cygno, Scorpio, Libra, Orione,
and the text after them contained a lot of phrases like "quartro stella" (four stars). So this section was about constellations and the text following the list
of constellations was about features that can be identified. Given that I could compare this stuff with a modern English astronomy guide, I figured that this
chapter might be the easiest to decode. So I am having the library photocopy these pages and they will mail them to me. "We don't like to have our valuable
texts touch the same machines on which freshmen Xerox their butts," said the head librarian. Actually she said something else but that was the general
gist of her comments.
As a disclaimer, I have had one year of conversational Italian at night school at a local Community College, and spent three weeks in Italy and only
misordered at a restaurant once (an unrelated but interesting story). So I am not really an expert at this stuff. I could not evaluate any of the poetry,
for instance, since the only poem in Italian that I know is about "Un uomo d'all Natucketo."
I'll work on the text when I get it mailed to me, and maybe pass it by someone I know with a BA in classical Italian. Heck. I may even post the text here,
if I get it scanned.
Last edited by ArtVark
on Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:21 pm, edited 6 times in total.