In his article “The Leporello and Lorne” in the December 2006 issue of Biblionews Michael Aitken says on p126 with respect to the origin of the word Leporello:
“[…] Leporello sings his catalogue aria and takes from his bag a book from which he pulls a long folding paper strip—the list of Don Giovanni’s romantic conquests. […] Leporello turns out to be a German word, probably from Italian, meaning ‘a fan of folded paper’. At this stage I do not know whether Mozart (or his librettist) named the character after the word or vice-versa.
My interest was taken by this question, so I went to my nearest German equivalent to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, namely Der Große Brockhaus. Handbuch des Wissens in zwanzig Bänden [The Great Brockhaus, a handbook of knowledge in twenty volumes] (Brockhaus being the name of the Leipzig publishing house that produced it), the 15th edition of 1932, and found the following entry on p327 of the 11th volume:
Leporello-Album, eine in Buchform harmonikaartig zusammenfaltbare Reihe von Bildern (Einzelansichten von Städten, Gegenden, Kunstwerken u. dgl.), benannt nach dem Verzeichnis der zahlreichen Geliebten Don Juans (In Mozarts >>Don Juan<<), das dessen Diener Leporello angelegt hat. Danach heißt Leporello auch ein Faltbuch in Form des chines. Buches.
Which might be translated as:
Leporello album, a series of pictures (single views of towns, districts, works of art and that kind of thing) in book form that can be folded together contertina-like, named after the list of the numerous lovers of Don Juan (in Mozart’s opera “Don Juan” [i.e. Don Giovanni]), which his servant Leporello put together. From that Leporello also means a folding book in the form of the Chinese book.
So that seems to provide an answer to Michael’s implied question, and a little bit more. I wonder if any Italianist amongst our readership can tell us what, if anything, the name of the Don’s servant Leporello means. Just out of interest.
First Australian Edition
I found the December issue of Biblionews, with lots of nice colour and monochrome illustrations, a most interesting read.
You may like to know that I made a modest contribution to Australian niche publishing very recently.
For nearly thirty years I have been interested in Joseph Symes (1841-1906), freethought orator, journalist, editor and stirrer, who lived in Victoria from 1884 to 1906 and edited the weekly Liberator (Melbourne, 1884-1904).
Probably while on board ship back to England, Symes wrote an 18,200 word account which was published, in nine instalments, in The Freethinker (London) from September to November 1906 as ‘My Twenty Years Fight in Australia’. (Symes died at the end of December 1906 and was cremated on 4 January 1907.) As far as I know, the account has neither been published as a monograph nor published in Australia.
I scanned and reformatted the text, and my friend Ron Marke (in New South Wales) agreed to print it for me. So in January we published the first Australian edition of My Twenty Years Fight in Australia as a booklet, published under my imprint, the Proxima Thule Press (pun on Ultima Thule Creek, Alexandra, Vic.) in association with the Freethought History Research Group, London. The new edition, with notes and an introduction by Nigel Sinnott, is now available from me for $2 a copy ($3 posted anywhere in Australia). If you want a review copy of the booklet, please let me know.
Nigel H Sinnott,
1/2 Davey Street, Sunshine West, Vic 3020(Tel. 03 9312 2304;
I am researching the life of Margaret Woodhouse (1927-1990) for the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
Mrs Woodhouse was an antiquarian bookseller in Sydney between 1962 and 1990, in North Sydney, then at History House in the city, then in Roseville and Killara.
I would be grateful for any personal reminiscences of her, and to know of the existence of any personal letters or papers.
Dr Neil Radford
24/9 Nicholson St Balmain East NSW 2041