12mo, pp. , 125, [4 (table)], [1 (approbation)], [3 (privilege)], [1 (blank)]; woodcut device on title, woodcut headpieces; manuscript exlibris of Mlle Huré (?) at head of title-page; some spotting in places, but largely clean and fresh; in contemporary wrappers, paper label at head of spine; wrappers stained, spine worn, edges rubbed.
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De la grandeur et de l’excellence des femmes, au dessus des hommes. Ouvrage composé en Latin, par H.C. Agrippa. Et traduit en François, avec des Notes curieuses, & la vie d’Agrippa, Par ***.
The third translation into French, but the first in the eighteenth century, of this work in praise of the female sex by the German occultist, lawyer, and soldier Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486–1535).
Agrippa had been appointed in 1509 to present a course of lectures on Reuchlin’s De verbo mirifico at the University of Dôle in Burgundy. His inaugural lecture was prefaced with a speech in honour of Margaret of Austria, daughter of the emperor Maximilian, which he then expanded into the present work in praise of women, although it was not finished, or published, until 1529. The work opens with the assertion that there is no difference between the soul of a woman and that of a man, before going on to argue that the name of Eve proves woman’s superiority over man. Agrippa praises female beauty and modesty, and discusses the contribution women make to men’s happiness (there is only so much one can expect of sixteenth century feminism), the minimal part played by Eve in the Fall, the unfair emphasis on female iniquity, and the ways in which Aristotle proves the excellence of women. It is possible that Agrippa got carried away, going on to argue that everything bad springs from men, and all goods from women, but he was on surer ground in claiming that nothing great and illustrious could be done by men that could not equally be done by women. Perhaps of the greatest import are the final two sections, in which Agrippa argues that the present state of women is entirely due to the usurpation of her rights, and that the role of women is not to obey men.
Agrippa’s text was much translated, into English and German as well as into French. The present translation is attributed to one Jean d’Arnaudin (1690–1717), of whom little is known; he appears also to be the author of a Refutation par le Raisonnement d’un livre intitulé De l’Action de Dieu sur les Créatures (1714).
OCLC records North American copies at Cornell, NYPL, Wells College, Yale Medical School, Minnesota, UNC Greensboro, and Princeton, with Library Hub (Copac) adding Glasgow and the BL.
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LETTERS TO A FEMALE ARCADIAN [TODESCHI, Claudio.]
Lettere filosofiche dirette alla nobil donna la signora baronessa Laura Astalli Piccolomini sotto il nome di Clori.
Extremely rare first edition of these four verse letters by Claudio Todeschi (b. 1737) addressed to baroness Laura Astalli Piccolomini, his fellow member of the Accademia degli Arcadi. Known as 'Clori', Laura was a soprano and one of the last surviving members of the noble Roman family the Astallis; she married Pietro Testa Silveri Piccolomini, 8th Baron of Balsorano, in 1765. Founded in 1690, the Accademia degli Arcadi was the first Italian academy to admit women.
An energetic member of the Accademia, Todeschi wrote on philosophical, economic and political matters as well as penning verse. Written under his Arcadian name 'Rosmiro Cellenio', these Lettere take as their subjects human anatomy, the human spirit, light, and astronomy.
We have only been able to trace one copy, at the Biblioteca nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III in Naples. Another issue, also known in a single copy, was printed by Zempel in the same year, without the frontispiece and with the Arcadian name of the author on the title.
‘SINCE THE FRENCH SAY THAT THEIR LANGUAGE IS UNIVERSALLY UNDERSTOOD, THEN THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT I [ANON.]
Microselene. Curioso viaggio etereo di madamigella Garnerin.
First edition of an innovative early Italian work of satirical imaginative fiction. Subtitled the ‘Curioso viaggio etereo di madamigella Garnerin’ [The Curious Voyage of Miss Garnerin], Microselene centres on an aeroporista [aeronaut], and begins with her ascent in a hot air balloon, based on the famous exploits of Elisa Garnerin (1791-1853), the French parachutist and balloonist. As with the novels of Jules Verne several decades later, recent developments in technology provide fuel for speculation; but unlike his strictly-circumscribed adventures, the present work revels in diverging fantastically (and comically) from the limitations of scientific possibility.