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Librairie Pierre Coumans

Stand: K02

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Fantastic Stories


Histoires prodigieuses extraictes de plusieurs fameux autheurs, grecs & latins, sacrez & profanes, divisées en cinq livres. Le premier, par P. Boaistuau, le second, par C. de Tesserant, le troisiesme, par F. de Belle-forest, le quatriesme, par Rod. Hoyer, et le cinquiesme traduit de nouveau par F. de Belleforest. Nouvellement augmentées de plusieurs histoires et enrichies de leurs effigies outre les précédentes impressions.

  • Published/Imprint: Antwerp, chez Guislain Janssens, 1594 (at the end : 1595).


8vo, full red Levant morocco Jansenist style binding by BERNASCONI, spine with raised bands and gilt lettering, gilt inside frame, gilt edges. 725pp. (including the title with fine woodcut printer’s mark), 4 unnumbered table leaves. NUMEROUS SMALL WOODCUT ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT, some repeated, SHOWING MONSTERS AND PRODIGIOUS EVENTS. Complete.


UNCOMMON FIRST ANTWERP EDITION OF ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR WORKS OF THE RENAISSANCE. A FAMOUS COMPILATION OF FANTASTIC STORIES. The author culled some of his examples from the Bible and ancient and medieval texts (the work derives in part from works by Julius Obsequens, Polidor Vergil and Joachim Camerarius), but he also incorporates reports current in his own day, assuring the reader that a number of his prodigies appear here for the first time. He defines prodigies broadly to include monstruous births, ranging from Siamese twins to a woman with two heads, but also floods, astral phenomena, activities of the devil, and monstruous deeds. This immensely popular book was first published in 1560 and went through several editions until the end of the 16th century, each time augmented with various texts. Pierre Boaistuau (1517?-1566), French humanist writer and compiler, first editor of Margaret of Navarre’s collection of nouvelles, is also the author of the « Théâtre du Monde » (1558), one of the first European bestsellers. He holds a very special place in literary developments in the sixteenth century as the importer of two influential genres in France, the ‘histoire tragique’ and the ‘histoire prodigieuse’. Enjoying a certain degree of fame due to the success of his books, Boaistuau's network of friends and contacts included many well-known French literati of his time, such as François de Belleforest, Joseph Scaliger, Bernard de Girard, Nicolas Denisot, Jean-Antoine de Baïf, Claude Roillet, and Jacques Grévin. He was also in friendly terms with James Beaton II, ex-Archbishop of Glasgow and Scottish ambassador in Paris.


Belgica Typographica, 1464 / Brunet, I, 982-983 / Coumont, Demonology and Witchcraft, B83.24 / This edition not in Adams

  • Condition: Text lightly toned, small marginal loss of paper on p. 655. BEAUTIFUL COPY IN ELEGANT BINDING.


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