First edition of this “famous text” (Caillet) by Gabriel Naudé
denouncing superstition and popular prejudiced ideas.
“A work of some rarity” (Thorndike).
Copy preserved in its contemporary vellum.
Naudé, Gabriel. Apologie pour tous les grands personnages qui ont été faussement soupçonnés de Magie.
Paris, François Targa, 1625.
8vo [172 x 110 mm] of (12) ll., 649 pp. (misnumbered 615), 23 pp. bound in contemporary vellum, handwritten title on spine, some quires browned. Contemporary binding.
First edition of this “famous text” (Caillet) by Gabriel Naudé denouncing superstition and popular prejudiced ideas.
Graesse, Trésor de livres rares et précieux, IV, 650; Rahir, Bibliothèque de l’amateur, 559; Caillet, III, 7923; Thorndike, IV, p.301; Yve-Plessis, Sorcellerie, 1647; Colin de Plancy, Dictionnaire des sciences occultes, pp.203-204; Duveen, p. 423.
Gabriel Naudé undertakes the rehabilitation of politicians, writers and scientists who were considered magicians because of their research or because they claimed to be in contact with the supernatural.
Explaining in which context fell in this “labyrinth of opinions” Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Democritus, Aristotle, Paracelsus, Agrippa, Savonarola, Nostradamus, Bacon, Gallienus, Raymond Lulle, Albertus Magnus, and many others, Naudé confronts the irrational. (Caillet)
“Arguments like those found by Naudé to condemn the lack of critical thinking, to defend a method of fact-checking, especially in regards to the supernatural, were very rare at the time. They weren’t common until Bayle and Fontenelle, which L’Apologie foreshadows in more than one aspect.” (Pintard, p. 449)
To better understand how Naudé’s book was a useful and bold undertaking, one must try to consider the state of the opinions in France when it was published. At the time, the country was in the midst of a witchcraft epidemic. This blind breath in the air lighted more than one pyre. Witches were blamed for everything.
Naudé strongly criticizes the lies told by astrologers in order to manipulate the masses.
One of the most distinguished savants of his time, Gabriel Naudé (1600-1653) was the librarian of cardinal Mazarin and then of queen Christina. A political thinker, a critical historian, a “learned libertine”, he had also been Louis XIII’s doctor.
A disciple of Montaigne and Charron, an unrelenting critic of traditions and popular errors, Naudé, who greatly appreciated Machiavelli, opposed, on a political level, the utilitarian realism of Christian ideals of those who came before him.
The author, who illustrates the transition from the spirit of the Renaissance to the spirit of the Enlightenment, fought superstition and obscurantism in the troubled times of the Wars of religion.
A precious copy preserved in its contemporary vellum binding.
Provenance : Ex-libris Bibliotheca J. Richard D. M.
Jacques Richard (1744-1812) was a surgeon and a distinguished bibliophile.