Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2010 Issue

A New Miscellany from Kenneth Karmiole, Bookseller

Karmiole28

There are some very old books in Kenneth Karmiole's latest catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

Kenneth Karmiole, Bookseller, has printed a New Miscellany #28. A miscellany it certainly is, which makes it difficult to otherwise classify what may be found. There are quite a few very antiquarian books in Latin, 16th and 17th centuries, even an item of incunabula. However, there are a great many not quite so old books that cover just about anything, so you will need to see this catalogue to know what type of material it contains. Nevertheless, here are a few excerpts.

Item 26 offers some advice for those who find one wife to be insufficient: Reflections upon Polygamy, and the Encouragement Given to that Practice in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, by Phileleutherus Dubliniensis (actually, Patrick Delany). Delany was a respected Irish preacher who wrote on Old Testament issues. Contrary to the implication of the title, Delany does not come down in favor of the practice of multiple wives. He is against it, but not for moralistic reasons as might be expected of a churchman, but for practical reasons, believing it is harmful for children and families. Delany was a good friend and supporter of his fellow Irish church leader and author of Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift. Priced at $500.

Item 78 is a copy of the massive Spanish history, The Generall Historie of Spaine... This title doesn't represent bad spelling, just the antiquity of this book. It is a first English edition of a history written in French by Louis Turquet de Mayerne. Mayerne covered Spanish history up to 1583, but translator Edward Grimstone then continued the book "up to these times" (1612). These would be particularly interesting times with regard to Spain from an English point of view as the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and the changing balance of power it signaled, came a few years after Grimstone took over. $4,500.

Item 113 is an interesting look at genetics, such as they were in 1839: Intermarriage: or, The Mode in Which, and the Causes Why, Beauty, Health and Intellect, Result from Certain Unions, and Deformity, Disease and Insanity, from Others... We will not be so rude as to inquire into the parentage of author Alexander Walker, but he evidently was not quite as insightful as, say, Charles Darwin, who was developing a different theory at this time. Walker concluded that the forehead, sense organs, and "nutritive" organs of the body were passed down from one parent, while the other parent passed along the back of the head, brain, and locomotive organs. Queen Victoria was offered as proof. She had her father's forehead but her mother's mouth, or at least so said Walker. Anyway, this book was offered as a guide to selecting a mate, though it never managed to replace "natural" selection as a means of making that choice. $150.

Item 82 might be called a "Catholic captivity," the equivalent of many Indian captivities, horrible, sensational, and completely false. It is the Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, as Exhibited in a Narrative of Her Sufferings During a Residence of Five Years as a Novice, and Two Years as a Black Nun, in the Hotel Dieu Nunnery at Montreal. Maria Monk burst onto the scene in New York in 1836 (the year this tome was published), supported by some anti-Catholic ministers just as the first wave of Catholic immigrants was arriving. She told of her horrors in a Catholic convent in Montreal. Essentially her story was that the nuns had to travel through an underground tunnel to a seminary where they were forced to submit to the sexual demands of the priests. They were told that the priests were making great personal sacrifices, giving up marriage and family, so that the nuns could be saved, so this was the least the sisters could do in return. When babies were born of these illicit relationships, they were immediately baptized and then strangled. It made a sensational story, but when newspapermen and others investigated her claims, they found them wanting. Monk's description of the nunnery was totally inaccurate, and it turned out she had previously been committed by her mother to an asylum for insanity. Meanwhile, several anti-Catholic clergy battled for the profits from the book she had supposedly written. A dozen years later, long since discredited, Monk died in prison, arrested for theft and prostitution. $375.

Item 110 is Argonautica, a 1548 edition of this ancient classic by Gaius Valerius Flaccus. This is based on an ancient Greek tale, and is not the better-known version by Apollonius, the Greek librarian. It, too, is an epic poem, and not terribly original, bearing a resemblance to the earlier epic of the tale, but perhaps Flaccus' version was better suited for first century Rome where it was written. Flaccus' poem ends abruptly and early, leading to the belief that he probably died before his only surviving work was completed. Those unfamiliar with Argonautica may know it by its more recent film edition, Jason and the Argonauts. $675.

Kenneth Karmiole, Bookseller, Inc., may be reached at 310-451-4342 or Karmbooks@aol.com.

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