Admirable and memorable histories containing the wonders of our time.

London, by George Eld, 1607.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. [x], 646. A, b², B-2S, 2T. [without first and last blanks, A1, 2T4]. Roman letter, some Italic.Small woodcut ornament of title, grotesque and historiated woodcut initials and head-pieces, “John Savile” in an early hand on pastedown, ‘John Horncastle 1832’ at head of t-p., early autograph crossed out below. Light age yellowing, t-p dusty, minor light marginal waterstaining on the first few leaves, the occasional stain, spot or thumb mark. A very good copy, in handsome contemporary calf, covers bordered with double blind and single gilt rules, large central arabesque gilt, spine with raised bands, gilt ruled in compartments central fleurons gilt, head and tail with tiny restoration.

A handsome copy of the first edition of the English translation of this important story collection of great interest for its influence on contemporary dramatists. Goulart was a remarkable anthologist from all kinds of medical writings, collecting stories of unrecognised pathologies, ghastly injuries, hideous executions, and nightmare pregnancies. “The Histoires Admirables, is a fascinating and extraordinary collection .. (and) remains a remarkable achievement: four volumes of collected materials relating to a mesmerising array of subjects. The first volume of this work was published in 1600, with all the connotations of the beginning of a new century and a new era. The second volume was published in 1604, thereafter the first two volumes were almost always reprinted together. … The first two volumes quickly became an international popular success, going through numerous French editions, as well as translations into English, Dutch and German. .. In the Histoires Admirables Goulart’s interests were certainly eclectic. His subjects ranged through witchcraft, murder, miscarriages of justice, adultery, clandestine marriage, multiple births, caesarean births, gambling, dancing, monsters, celestial signs, historical events, shipwrecks and battles, as well as the tales of Martin Guerre and Guy Fawkes. … Goulart frequently adds his own commentary, guiding and leading the reader towards the intended moral of the tale. The original author and provenance are almost always given for a wide range of sources in a remarkable range of languages. Goulart clearly felt comfortable with Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, French and Dutch texts, some of which he translated specifically for inclusion in this work. “ Joanna Mia Schlesinger ‘Entertainment or edification? A contextual analysis of Simon Goulart’s ‘Thresor D’Histoires admirables’.

One of the most interesting stories he collected was the famous tale of the werewolf. “A final example of this tendency to take from Weinrich the occasional marvellous monster tale, while leaving behind his own skepticism, comes from Simon Goulart in 1607. ..Goulart provides an almost entirely faithful translation of a short tale included in Weinrich’s work: He cites Weinrich, chapter and page number, but the one thing he leaves out of his translation is the fact that Weinrich describes John Lamus, the hearer of this tale, as “incredulous”. Weinrich himself clearly disbelieves in the veracity of the tale..” Rachel E. Hile ‘Martin Weinrich’s De ortu monstrorum commentarius (1595) and Its Reception in England.’ This work was one of the direct source texts for Webster’s Duchess of Malfi. “Why would Webster choose a malady that was so alien to his English audience that he need outline its symptoms, in detail, onstage? Ferdinand’s lycanthropy was unquestionably an intentional addition to The Duchess of Malfi, since there is no mention of it in Webster’s source for the plot, William Painter’s Palace of Pleasure (London, 1567). Scholarship has established Simon Goulart’s Admirable and Memorable Histories as the source for Webster’s werewolf, in particular his report of a man “in the yeare 1541 who thought himselfe to bee a Wolfe, setting vpon diuers men in the fields, and slew some.” … The resemblance between the doctor’s description of Ferdinand’s lycanthropy and Goulart’s passage “is so striking as to settle the question of Webster’s source immediately” (Boklund 32).” Brett D. Hirsch. ‘An Italian Werewolf in London: Lycanthropy and The Duchess of Malfi.’

A handsome copy of this rare and fascinating work.

ESTC S103356. STC 12135. Pforzheimer, 419. Lowndes III 921.


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