The path towards the National Edition
As Vallisneri’s importance for the history of early modern Italian and European science became increasingly clear throughout the years, the need appeared of an exhaustive critical edition of his published and unpublished works. Already in 1979, in Milan, the historian and philosopher of science Mario Dal Pra (1914-1992) had given his approval and support to Dario Generali’s project of a critical edition of Vallisneri’s correspondence. This project was hosted by the National Research Council Institute “Centro di studi sul pensiero filosofico del ‘500 e del ‘600 in relazione ai problemi della scienza” in Milan, now “Istituto CNR per la storia del pensiero filosofico e scientifico moderno” (“National Research Council – Institute for the History of Early Modern Philosophical and Scientific Thought”). The first result of this collaboration was the publication in 1986 of a critical edition of Vallisneri’s autobiography. In the following years, Generali edited and published the first volume of Vallisneri’s Epistolario (“Correspondence”, 1991), the second volume (1998), and the third volume (which was published in 2005, after the establishment of the the National Edition). in total, the three volumes contain more than 2000 philologically edited letters.
Finally, in 2000 the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage established the Edizione Nazionale delle Opere di Antonio Vallisneri (“National Edition of Antonio Vallisneri’s Works”). After more than two decades of activity, this institution has asserted itself as one of the most lively and renowned cultural projects of this kind in Europe, producing a wealth of groundbreaking studies, critical editions, experimental replications, and digital humanities projects.