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Explaining the Tarot: Two Italian Renaissance Essays on the Meaning of the Tarot Pack Cards – 31 Mar 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Cards: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Maproom Publications (31 Mar. 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0956237010
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956237019
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 14.4 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,489,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Explaining the Tarot' contains two texts in Italian dating from the sixteenth century together with their translations into English. Both texts have been dated to circa 1565 and both treat the Tarot from a moralistic point of view. As the author of one of the texts puts it, "the trumps succeed one another by logical and moral necessity." There is no mention of divination in the texts; they confine themselves to such things as the moral triumphs each Major Arcana card achieves over those below it in terms of number, and the social implications of the four suits.
For the student of the Tarot's history, perhaps the most remarkable point raised is that, over one hundred years after the creation of the Tarot, neither the Trump order nor the naming of the Trumps have become stable. Certain distinct Trump orders have been identified and they are sometimes labeled the Eastern order, the Western order, the Southern order. The second text in 'Explaining the Tarot' doesn't adhere to any of these, and is seemingly a mix of two of them. Some accepted Trump names are nothing like those recognized today. The card we now call the Hermit is The Hunchback or The Old Man, identified by the author of one text as symbolizing Time. Trump 12 is The Traitor, hanging by the foot being a punishment for treason in Italy in that era. These early names have been known for some time; these texts make it clear that the early names lasted for well over a century in Italy, no change being made to them or even being considered. The card we call the Tower had several names (and presumably illustrations to go with each name). It could be Fire or The Thurderbolt or more often in these texts The Heavens. As such it precedes the celestial Trumps - the Stars, the Moon and the Sun that grace our skies.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x957f01c8) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x957f2d44) out of 5 stars Significant and historically important Tarot texts translated at last 18 Jun. 2010
By Christopher Marlowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Cards
Two small but important Italian Renaissance essays on the meaning of the the Tarot deck are here translated into English with commentary for the first time.

These are the earliest texts of this kind so far discovered, and they offer a unique glimpse into the meanings people read into the pictures depicted on the cards during the sixteenth century. They define the symbolism of the cards, their order, offer moral lessons to be derived from them, and relate them to a cosmic scheme characteristic of the age.

Caldwell, Depaulis and Ponzi are to be thanked and congratulated for producing this volume, which deserves a place in the libraries of scholars of Renaissance iconology and Tarot aficionados alike. And at the price quoted, let me assure you it's no-brainer.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x957f2f90) out of 5 stars Renaissance Essays 4 Jan. 2011
By Bonnie Cehovet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Cards
In this small volume we see translated, for the first time, two essays on the meaning of the Tarot trumps and the suits. Presented by three highly respected members of the Tarot community, with help from select individuals and the team of the Tarot History Forum,we have a wonderful addition to any Tarot library. The book is written in such a manner as to be understood by all levels of Tarot students, and includes commentary, as well as a bibliography and an index.

Both essays interpret the Tarot images through the lens of philosophy, religion, poetry, contemporary science and the rules of the game itself. The first essay (Piscina's Discorso) takes a more lighthearted approach to the subject, being initiated after the author saw a gentle Lady playing the game. The second essay (Anonymous Discorso) takes on a more serious demeanor. The author is, as the title implies, anonymous,and the essay was never actually published. Both essays are presented with the original text on the left hand page, with the interpretation on the right hand side of the page.

This is a truly engaging work,well worth reading.
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