HUTTEN, Ulrich von, et al.


HUTTEN, Ulrich von, et al.. Duo volumina epistolarum obscurorum virorum,…

Rome, s.n. (=Frankfurt am Main, David Zöpfel), 1557.


12mo, ff. [252], A-X12. Two volumes in one. Roman letter. First title within floriated borders, second on K5r with no borders, no imprint (fake place of publication on last) and a short poem exhorting the reader to forget about sadness and grief, and laugh at everything. Two woodcut initials, one for each volume at the beginning of the text. Title page slightly soiled, marginal yellowing. Marbled pastedowns, bookplate of the Harvard College Library (“the Gift of Mary Bryant Brandegee in Memory of William Fletcher Weld”) to front pastedown. T-p and first leaf with blind letterpress of the Harvard University Library. In late C19th gilt-ruled calf with embossed diamond-shaped floral decoration at centre, title on red morocco label to gilt spine, inner dentelles, a.e.g.

This is a pocket reprint of the Letters of Obscure Men, a celebrated collection of satirical Neo-Latin letters, which appeared between 1515–1519 in Hagenau, Germany. The collection was soon forbidden by the Catholic Church, since the letter supported the humanist Johann Reuchlin and they mock the doctrines and modes of living of the scholastics and monks, mainly by pretending to be letters from fanatical Christian theologians discussing whether all Jewish books should be burned as un-Christian or not. The work was based upon the real public dispute between Reuchlin and certain Dominican monks, especially a formerly Jewish convert who had obtained Imperial authority to burn all known copies of the Talmud in 1509. The title is a reference to Reuchlin’s 1514 book Letters of Bright Men, a collection of learned letters from eminent scholars such as von Hutten, Johann Crotus, Konrad Mutian, Helius Eobanus Hessus, and others, to show that Reuchlin’s position in the controversy with the monks was approved by very erudite men. The present letters are written in a deliberately bad Latin. Most of these letters are addressed to the German scholar and theologian Ortwin and contain mock accusations against him. The collection was published anonymously, and the authorship has been a fertile subject of controversy, but the main portion of the letters are attributed to the humanists Joahnn Crotus, Ulrich von Hutten, Erasmus, and Reuchlin. The work is credited with hastening the Protestant Reformation.

 Edit 16 CNCE 51186: “Contraffazione tedesca stampata probabilmente a Francoforte da David Zopfel”; VD16 E 1726; Benzing, Hutten 247.