A PHILOSOPHICAL EXPLANATION OF FAITH IN RARE FIRST LATIN TRANSLATION
Proverbia Raemundi. Philosophia amoris eiusdem.
Paris, Chalcographia Ascensiana (Josse Bade) and Ioannis Parvi, 1516.
FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. (in eights). Ff. (ii), CLXXI, (i) last blank. Roman letter. Fine woodcut white on black floriated crible initials in various sizes, a page woodcut portrait of the author on the island of Majorca, early vellum manuscript stubs, later C16th notes in French on front pastedown and rear endpapers, a small collection of medical and cosmetic recipes for such things as treating rashes and removing stains from cloth, early shelf mark at head of title, bookplate of Joan Lluis Gili on pastedown. Title page frayed at upper blank margin and a bit dusty, light age yellowing, minor water-stain in upper blank margin of a few leaves. A very good copy, crisp and clean in contemporary limp vellum, slightly soiled, covers loose, remains of ties.
Rare first Latin translation by Lefevre D’Etaples of these two important and influential works by Ramon Lull, beautifully printed at his own expense by Josse Bade. The superb title page woodcut depicts the vision of Christ on the cross that Lull had on the island of Majorca whilst composing a romantic poem at the court of King James of Aragon. This caused a profound religious awakening in him that left him committed to the goal of spreading the Christian Faith among non-believers by proving philosophically the truth of its beliefs. After several years of academic preparation, he spent the rest of his long life engaged in missionary journeys to infidel lands, even reaching Armenia in 1301, visiting kings and popes in order to promote his plans, and writing nearly 300 works in Latin, Arabic, and his native Catalan.
Lull (1232-1316) is described by Sarton thus: “Catalan philosopher, apostle and writer. One of the greatest vernacular authors of mediaeval Europe, the patriarch of the Catalan language and literature. Christian educator and missionary. Father of western orientalism. One of the champions of the struggle against Averroism. Inventor of a kind of generalised logic, ars magna. Extreme realist.” To which one might add, encyclopaedist and polymath. His works were hugely influential in C16th France, especially on Lefèvre himself and through his translations on Charles Bouelles, Aggripa, Cusa and Giordano Bruno.
“Because Lefèvre was the central figure in the revival of Lullism, the early phase of Lull’s rejuvenation in Paris can be understood best by turning to Lefèvre’s works. … Jaqcues Lefèvre d’Etaples was the true restorer of Lullist studies in France. His contribution fell into two categories: the editions of the various works of Lull which he undertook between 1499-1516 and the en-companying enthusiasm they evoked and secondly, the appeal which Lull’s thought had to his own mind and the influence which it exercised through his thought. Lefèvre published three collections of the writings of the Doctor Illuminatus. The first of these marked only the third printing of Lull’s works in France. It appeared in 1499. … The second collection was published in 1505 …In 1516 Lefevre published the Latin text of Lull’s ‘Libre de Proverbis’ and the ‘Arbe de Philosophia d’amor.’ The volume was printed by Josse Badius who was a devotee of Lullian studies and was dedicated by Lefevre to Alphonso of Aragon, archbishop of Saragossa and Valencia.” Joseph M. Victor “Charles de Bovelles, 1479-1553: an intellectual biography.”
An appropriate provenance: Joan Gili was born into a publishing family in Barcelona in 1907, emigrated to Britain in 1934, and began his career as a publisher of Hispanic works in 1938. The following year, Stephen Spender and Gili produced a translation of Nadal’s selection of Lorca’s poems. Gili wrote the influential “Introductory Catalan Grammar” in 1943. Several volumes of his translations of Catalan poems were published in the next few decades. Gili became a founding member of the Anglo-Catalan Society in 1954 and was later its president.
Renouard, Badius III no. 48. Caillet 6856. Elies Rogent and Estanislau Duran “Bibliographica de les Impressions Lullianes’, p. 59 no 62. “L’autenticitat de L’Arbre de Philosophia d’Amor no ofereix cap dubte, ja que el mateix Lull diu haver-lo escrit a Paris pel mes d’octubre de l’any 1298, durant la seva segona estada en aquella eiutat. Aquest primera edicio de la versio Llatina la feu fer el Jaques Lefebvre d’Etaples, que ja havia publiat altres obres doctrinals i mistiques; l’endressa a l’Alfons d’Arago arquebisbe de Saragossa i Valencia. Com gairebe totes les obres que publia el Lefebvre, Larbre de Philosophia d’amor fou condemnat a requesta de L’Eymeric. Aquesta edicio del Libre de proverbis i de la Philosophia d’Amor, es la darrera mostra de l’activitat Lul liana del Lefevre d’Etaples. El Josse Bade, que, juntament amb el Joan Petit, la impremta a ses despeses, posa a la portada un tetrastichon al lusiu.”.
DSB VIII pp 547-550. Thorndike II chap LXIX. Not in BM STC Fr. C16, Brunet or Graesse.