Erasmus and His Books
Published: June 2018© 2018
544 Pages, 7.50 x 10.00 x 1.50 in
What became of Erasmus’ books? The most famous scholar of his day died in peaceful prosperity and in the company of celebrated and responsible friends. His zeal for useful books was insatiable. Indeed, he had taken care to insure that after his death they would pass to an appreciative noble owner, yet after his death their fate was unknown.
Erasmus and His Books provides the most comprehensive evidence available about the books of Erasmus of Rotterdam – the books he owned and his attitude towards them, when and how he acquired them, how he housed, used, and cared for them, and how, from time to time, he disposed of them.
Part 1 details the formation, growth, scope, and arrangement of Erasmus’ library and opens the door to a new understanding of the more intimate side of his daily life as a scholar at home with his books, friends, publishers, and booksellers.
Part 2 presents a carefully annotated catalogue, the Versandliste, of the more than 400 books in Erasmus’ possession at one point. Drawing upon his command of bibliographical data and his extensive knowledge of Erasmus’ correspondence and related records Egbertus van Gulik proposes as precise an identification of each of the titles as the evidence will allow.
Van Gulik’s insightful discoveries tell us what can be known of books in Erasmus’ working library and how he used them and will be of interest to students of the northern Renaissance, the history of the book, and the history of learning.
Foreword by James K. McConica
Abbreviations and Works Frequently Cited
Short-Title Forms for Erasmus’ Works
- The History and Nature of Erasmus’ Working Library
- The Formation and Growth of the Library
- The Disposal and Replacement of Books
- The Housing and Arrangement of the Collection
- Maintenance and Binding
- What the Versandliste Does Not Include
- Erasmus and the Book: The Humanist at Work
- The Versandliste of Erasmus’ Library in 1536: An Annotated Catalogue
- Introduction: Methods and Resources
- The Versandliste: Authors and Titles in Erasmus’ Library
- The Versandliste: An Annotated Catalogue
Appendix 1: Catalogus librorum Erasmi
Appendix 2: Books Found in Erasmus’ Correspondence
Appendix 3: Classification of the Books on the Versandliste
"A century on from P. S. Allen's edition of the correspondence, and with similar éclat, Van Gulik's work opens a new era in our critical and historical accounting for what Erasmus liked to called his lucubrationes, books produced in daily and nightly encounter with other books."Mark Vessey, Department of English, The University of British Columbia
"Erasmus and His Books is an impressive in-depth study of Erasmus' Versandliste, but exceeding that by far. It shows how and when the humanist author compiled his library and what was its nature, and it reveals how and when he made use of it for his own books. It is a fascinating history of a library and an indispensable guide for anyone who studies Erasmus and his reading and writing culture as well as that of his fellow humanists. I read this book with great admiration: it not only offers a history of Erasmus' library but also a full description and evaluation of each of the 413 books that are mentioned in it."Jan Bloemendal, Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands in the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science
"Erasmus of Rotterdam lived a busy life amidst, with, and for books. References and allusions to ancient and recent authors, quotations from and reminiscences of older and newer literature occur on each page of his voluminous oeuvre. In order to understand and assess his writings correctly, the reader needs to know which books Erasmus owned, knew, and used. Often it is even necessary to know precisely which edition of a work he used. Van Gulik’s work, the outcome of decades of intensive and meticulous research, presents all the information attainable on the books Erasmus had at his disposal. In spite of the immense amounts of data contained in this volume, it is easily accessible. Due to careful editorial work, the massive information collected by van Gulik is presented here in a form both extremely reliable and utterly readable."Henk Jan de Jonge, Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Early Christian Literature, Leiden University