DREXEL, Jeremias


Infernus damnatorum carcer et rogus aeternitatis pars II

Cologne, Bernhard Wolter, 1632


16mo., pp. (16), 315, (3). Roman letter, little Italic and Gothic; fine engraved title with standing figures of Eternal Life and Death and St. Michael as judge holding a scale, plus dedicatee’s coat of arms at foot; 9 full-page engraved illustrations neatly impressed, decorative tail-pieces, mostly with Mary or Jesus inside heart-like border; one or two tiny pinholes to outer upper corner of gatherings C-E. A very good, well-margined copy in contemporary northern European vellum, yapp edges; all edges blue; early case numbers on front endpaper and pastedown.

Uncommon edition of a curious booklet illustrating the dreadful tortures for sinners in hell, first published in Munich in 1631. Raised as Lutheran, Jeremias Drexel (1581-1638) converted very early to Catholicism and joined the Society of Jesus. He was a prolific and successful writer of devotional books, widely read and translated. Besides teaching rhetoric in Dillingen, he served as a preacher for 23 years at the court of Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, and his wife, Elizabeth of Lorraine. This work is said to have been presented to them, though the dedication addresses the apostolic nuncio in Germany, bishop Pier Luigi Carafa (1581-1655), whose arms appear at foot of title.

Eight torments are described, commented on and vividly illustrated with fine engravings, i.e. darkness, lamenting, hunger and thirst, stench, fire, excruciating remorse, ill company and desperation. The engraving related to lamenting shows an improbable music sheet with notes and lyrics (‘Vae vae vae, ah ah ah ah, heu eheu aeternitas’) of the chant of sorrow sung by the damned.

This edition is particularly remarkable for the numerous printed annotations below the main text, providing German translations of unusual Latin terms. Not only do they make clear that the targeted audience of this popular book is German and literate, but may also be one of the earliest examples of editorial footnotes in print.

Not in Brunet or Graesse. Sommervogel, III, 195:15.
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