A SATIRICAL DESCRIPTION OF FOREIGN LANDS
Mundus Alter et Idem, sive Terra Australis ante hac semper incognita longis itineribus peregrini academici nuperrime lustrata.
Hanover, Sumptibus hæredum Ascanij de Renialme: per Gulielmum Antonium, 1607.
8vo pp. (16) 224, (5). §⁸, A-O⁸. Five large engraved folding maps. Roman letter, some Italic. Engraved title with a fine border with figure of Mercury above and a cartographer and a voyager at sides below, floriated woodcut initials and headpieces grotesque woodcut tail pieces, armorial bookplate ‘Nordkirchen’ on pastedown. Light age yellowing, the odd marginal stain or spot. A very fine copy, crisp and clean in excellent contemporary vellum over boards, yapp edges, covers bordered with a double rule, fleurons to corners, large strap-work oval stamped at centres, all formerly gilt, remains of green silk ties.
A particularly fine copy of the second edition of Joseph Hall’s ferocious satire; one of the first works to appropriate the style of a genuine travel account for fictional purposes, beautifully illustrated with a series of fictional maps that incorporate real maps. “In appearance and structure, Mundus Alter et Idem resembled many travel accounts being produced by printers in England and on the Continent. The first Latin edition was printed in Frankfurt, the English editions, presumably translated by Joseph Healy, in London in 1609 and again in 1613 or 1614.
Like other travel accounts, it included a series of maps, including a world map that situated this newly described territory in relation to known places. Hall’s elaborate descriptions of such locales as Tenter-Belly with its provinces of Eat-allia (also known as Gluttonia) and Drink-allia are pure farce, drawing strength from resemblances to medieval and contemporary travel accounts by such authorities as Mandeville, Peter Martyr, and Ralegh.” Peter C. Mancall. ‘Hakluyt’s Promise: An Elizabethan’s Obsession for an English America’.
“Mundus alter et Idem is regarded as a foundational text in the imaginary voyage tradition. Hall’s satirical story tells of the adventures of a lone European voyager Mercurius Britannicus, who travels on the appropriately named ship Fancie to Terra Australis and spends 30 years there. The southern world discovered is divided into four parts, with the names of: ‘Crapulia (Tenter-belly in the 1609 English adaptation), which borders the Indian Ocean and contains the provinces of ‘Pamphagonia’ (‘Gluttonia’) and ‘Yvronia’ (Drinkallia), a place where to be a leader one must be obese; Viraginia (Sheelandt) a lawless republic of only women; ‘Moronia’ (Foolania), a land of fools and folly, including religious folly; and ‘Lavernia’ (‘Theevingen’), home to criminals and crime. (…) In its Latin original Mundus alter et idem featured five engraved folding maps, one showing the four regions of the southern continent as almost touching South America, Africa and Asia.” Paul Longley Arthur ‘Virtual Voyages: Travel Writing and the Antipodes 1605-1837’.
Hall wrote the work for private circulation, and did not intend it for publication. It was not clearly ascribed to Hall by name until 1674, when Thomas Hyde, the librarian of the Bodleian, identified “Mercurius Britannicus” with Joseph Hall. On the other hand Hall’s authorship was an open secret, and in 1642 John Milton used it to attack Hall by arguing that the Utopia and New Atlantis had a constructive approach lacking in Mundus Alter.
Joseph Hall (1574-1656), Bishop of Norwich, poet, moralist, satirist, controversialist (against Milton, i.a.), devotional writer, theological commentator, autobiographer and practical essayist, was one of the leading hommes de lettres of the Jacobean age. He was at the centre of public life under James I representing that King at the Synod of Dort in 1618, assisting in his negotiations with the Scots and in Lord Doncaster’s French embassy and was foremost among the defenders of the temporal and spiritual powers of the Bishops in the Puritan Parliament of 1640-41. However, it is as a writer that Hall is now remembered. Fuller called him ‘the English Seneca for his pure, plain, and full style’. While Hall may not have been the first English satirist, as he claimed, he certainly introduced the Juvenalian satire into English.
The first edition was in fact printed at London (c. 1605) not Frankfurt as stated on the title. The second edition of 1607 contained both quires printed at London and at Hanover; STC states of this variant of the second edition “copies with imprint: Hannoviæ, per Gulielmum Antonium, sumptibus hæredum Ascanij de Renialme, 1607 apparently never have London-printed quires mixed in and therefore do not qualify for STC.” STC 12685.3.
A rare and important work.
BM STC Ger. C17th H186. Alden 609/60 adds others. Nordenskold III 482. Unrecorded by the women’s bibliographies. “A pleasant invective against the characteristic vices of various nations from which, it is said, Swift borrowed the idea of Gulliver’s Travels.” Lowndes III 980.
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