With Halloween barely behind us, this month's selections in rare and antiquarian books include works advocating reform of French burial laws and formal admonitions against premature inhumation--a very serious problem prior to the advent of sophisticated medical tools for separating the dead from the undead. We also recently acquired a set of the final lectures given by the celebrated French scholar Pierre Bayle shortly before his death, a nineteenth-century Italian guide to how magnetism could stave off death by curing all sorts of diseases from cholera to hernias, and finally, for scholars needing ideas for next year's Halloween costumes, a seventeenth-century collection by Giovanni and Marco Antonio Canini of images representing the most famous monarchs, philosophers, poets and orators of antiquity.
Canini, Giovanni Angelo, Marco Antonio Canini, and Ignazio de Lazari. Iconografia: cioè disegni d'imagini de famosissimi monarchi, regi, filososi, poeti ed oratori dell'antichità. In Roma: Nella Stamparia d'Ignatio de' Lazari, 1669.
Pratica del magnetismo in ordine alla conoscenza ed alla guarigione delle malattie. Torino: Tipografia Fodratti, 1874.
From the catalog: “Only edition of this small, popular and comprehensive guide to the use of magnetism in the diagnosis and treatment of disease—the author believes all diseases are potentially curable by magnetism. Divided into sections on the cure of acute diseases such as intermittent fever, inflammation of the brain, cholera, rheumatism, hernia, spontaneous haemorrhage; . . . . The final section concerns experimental magnetism . . . . Testimonials of effectiveness are given in some places."
Ancelot, Marguerite-Louise-Virginie. Théâtre complet de Madame Ancelot. Nouv. éd., ornée de vingt gravures sur bois par M. Porret et de vingt têtes d'expression lithographiées. Dessins de Madame Ancelot. Paris: Beck, 1848.
This collection is the most complete edition of Ancelot's plays. As she noted in the dedication to her daughter, Ancelot's works were mainly focused on the situation of women, particularly their characters, their ideas and their impressions of the different circumstances of their existence.
Original posthumous and unique edition of those lectures that Bayle gave at Sedan and then at Rotterdam, shortly before his death, and which Friedrich II had printed, in 1785, for his and for his great-nephew Friedrich Wilhelm's personal use. Contains the celebrated "discours préliminaire": Ce que c'est que la philosophie.
Boillet, Charles. Mort apparente et victimes ignorées, par le Dr Ch. Boillet. Paris: V.-A. Delahaye, 1876.
Boillet's entry "in the ongoing fight of reasonable medical men for reform in French law on inhumation, with an eye toward avoiding the perils of premature burial."
Gaillard, Xavier. Du culte des tombeaux et du danger des inhumations dans certains cas. Paris: chez l'auteur, 1852.
"A characteristic medical-philosophical work on the dangers of premature burial, with a certain amount of anecdote, and including proposals for government-funded watch houses (where corpses might be kept in case of revival), an examination of the signs of death, artificial respiration and other revival techniques, and sundry reflections on death itself." (dealer's catalog)
Graffigny, Henri de, pseud. (Marquis, Raoul). La Ville Arienne. Roman Scientifique d'Aventures et de voyages. Illustrations de Jose Roy. Paris: M. Vermot, (1911).
With wonderful dramatic pictorial wrappers, the front wrapper depicting a balloon suspended dangerously close above a raging sea. Graffigny (b.1863), as he chose to be known, was a pioneer in science fiction literature that featured such themes as aeronautics, space travel and planetary voyages. This is a tale of a monstrous balloon and life aboard the equivalent of an equally monstrous ocean-liner held aloft by the balloon, which is tethered over Paris and visited by the Commissioners of Paris, etc. One day the cable breaks, it traverses the ocean, and is "shipwrecked" over the Sahara. In fact there was a later edition, in 1936, published as Naufrages au Sahara.
Le Brun was one of the most celebrated poets of the Revolutionary era, hailed by Sainte-Beuve as an important precursor of romanticism.