Hexameron. Antonio de TORQUEMADA.
Hexameron.
Hexameron.
Hexameron.
Hexameron.
Hexameron.
Hexameron.
The Strangest Americanum?

Hexameron.

First edition of Gabriel Chappuys's French translation1 of Antonio de Torquemada's fantastical Jardín de flores curiosas, a miscellany on the marvels of the world written as a series of dialogues and trialogues, in six treatises, or "days," between three philosophers, Bernard, Antoine, and Louis. The Jardín, though well known today as one of the books mentioned by Cervantes in the first part of Don Quixote, had acquired a reputation in Spain from the moment of publication at Salamanca in 1570, the year after Torquemada's death. The book introduced Spanish readers to the "peculiar flowers" of the known universe, especially those of the New World and the ultramontane regions. According to scholar of Spanish literature Mar Martínez-Góngora, the Jardín…


 ...exhiben el papel fundamental de la fantasía en la creación de un referente imaginario que funciona como un espacio textual alternativo, aunque no necesariamente utópico, de una nueva realidad, marcada tanto por los descubrimientos, como por los intereses coloniales de los españoles en Africa, en Asia o en el Nuevo Mundo. Al entroncar con la tradición medieval de una compilación no sistemática de curiosidades, mitos y relatos en la que predomina el elemento de la maravilla, los autores de las misceláneas brindan al lector renacentista un intento de familiaridad con experiencias situadas al margen de lo cotidiano. Aunque esta compilación no sistemática de curiosidades se remonta a la literatura latina, y se vuelve a poner de moda antes del descubrimiento de América, es durante el siglo XVI, la época en que el género se desarrolla en España gracias al éxito de obras como la Silva de varia lección de Pedro de Mexía y el Jardín de Torquemada. No obstante, si bien el gusto por este tipo de lecturas nos muestra la fascinación del sujeto del periodo a la hora de imaginar un sinnúmero de sucesos extraordinarios que, bien pudieran darse en otras latitudes del orbe, el tratamiento en el Jardín de ciertas figuras miticas, tales como el Preste Juan, hermafroditas o monstruos, revela la preocupación del individuo del Renacimiento ante las consecuencias no previstas de la expansión territorial llevada a cabo en este periodo.2 


The three philosophers who drive the narrative discuss, within a framework of judicial astrology, the monsters, phanstasmagorical gardens, hauntings and ghosts, bizarre geographies, faeries, brownies, and sprites, witches and paradises of the known world. Gabriel Chappuys, known as Le Tourangeau, was already established as a writer and translator by the time he tackled the Jardín in his mid-thirties; his text was reprinted several times into the 1620s. It was first translated into English by Lewis Lewknor in 1600, and titled The Spanish Mandeville of Miracles. Copies of our first French edition occur in three American libraries: Cornell, Columbia, and U. Michigan.3

Lyon: Antoine de Harsy, 1582.

Octavo, 172 x 113 x 38 mm (binding), 170 x 111 x 36 mm (text block). *4, a-z8, A-I8, K4 (K4 blank and wanting); [4] ff, 489 pp., [14] ff. Bound in 17th-century boards, with competent 19th-century gilt and titled reback, corners renewed, later marbled ends. Slight wear to extremities, otherwise a sound and  flexible binding. Interior: Some soiling to title and last leaves; gutter-margin mends to first four leaves, affecting text on *2, without loss; tail margins renewed on 2nd and 3rd leaves; small marginal holes to K2 and K3 (mended), not near text.

Provenance:

Acquired by W. S. Cotter Rare Books from Paris bookseller Alain Brieux in March 2021.

Alden/Landis 582/88; Palau 334918; Brunet V col. 886; Caillet III 10761; USTC 10123; Pettegree 49481; Baudrier (Supplément) f. 35, n. 23; 


1We believe this to be the first appearance in French of Torquemada's strange book. Brunet remarks on a 1579 French edition in 16mo published by Symphorien Béraud at Lyon, which data was repeated by Palau, Baudrier, and later by Alden/Landis (579/49), but we have not located a physical copy of this edition, nor corroboration that it ever existed.
2Martínez-Góngora, Mar, "Los personajes fabulosos del 'Jardín de flores curiosas' de Antonio Torquemada," Hispanófila, No. 153 (may 2008) pp. 1-17.
3The copy at Harvard, published by Brachonier and dated 1582, is most likely a cataloguing error—Brachonier's edition, the second French, was actually published in 1583.

Item #124

Price: $3,400.00