Treasures from Brazil (II) – “História dos Trabalhos da Sem Ventura Isea”

In 1570, the Portuguese printer Francisco Correa published a compilation of laws enacted by the king D. Sebastião. The printer had received authorization and exclusive rights to publish the compilation on September 14th. Correa was an experienced publisher, who worked in Lisbon between 1561 and 1583, although he had also worked before in Porto and Coimbra. Also, Correa had received royal privileges before, and did published many official publications such as indexes of forbidden books, diocesan constitutions, and others.

As it was usual during the time, Correa re-purposed types and designs used in previous publications. Here, the printer used on the cover the same portal used in a previous book printed in the 1560s.

Sem Ventura Isea

História dos Trabalhos da Sem Ventura Isea natural da Cidade de Epheso, & dos Amores de Clareo & Florisea. Lisbon: Francisco Correa, 1560(?).

História dos Trabalhos da Sem Ventura Isea natural da Cidade de Epheso, & dos Amores de Clareo & Florisea”, was a chivalric romance printed with royal privilege in uncertain date and place. The columns and lower part of both covers are the same. The only difference is the upper arch. However, the arch used in the História dos Trabalhos… was also used in a 1584 edition of Camões “Os Lusíadas printed by Manoel de Lyra.

The book is a Byzantine novel translated from Spanish. Bibliographical dictionaries mention a copy in Porto during the early nineteenth century, although it apparently disappeared during the 1832 siege of the city. Another one was auctioned later and purchased by a private collector. Now, the only known copy of the Portuguese edition is said to be in the library of the Harvard University.

Sem ventura Isea capa

The BN manuscript, listed as Manuscritos, I-14,01,009.

However, there is a manuscript copy of this novel in the National Library of Rio de Janeiro. According to the writing, it is believed to be a copy taken between the late 18th and the early 19th centuries.

The BN catalog inadvertently classifies it as a Brazilian novel. Although the identity of the copyist is unknown, the codex was originally part of the library of José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva.

Although there are studies about the Spanish and French versions, I am yet to see any on the Portuguese text.



BRITO, Gomes de. Noticia de livreiros e impressores de Lisbôa na 2ª metade do seculo XVI. Lisbon: Imprensa Libanio da Silva, 1911.

DESLANDES, Venâncio. Documentos para a historia da typographia portugueza nos seculos XVI e XVII. Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1881.

GAMA, João de Saldanha da. Catálogo da exposição permanente dos cimelios da Bibliotheca Nacional. Rio de Janeiro: Typ. de G. Leuzinger e Filhos, 1885.

NORONHA, Tito de. “A Isea.” In: O Pantheon: revista de sciencia e lettras. 1880-1881.