Nearly a Thousand Ribald Folk-Tales, to be ‘Read or Heard’ by Young and Old of Both Sexes

Pauli, Johannes / Boccacio et al. Kurtzweilige und Lächerliche Geschicht un[d] Historien, die wol in Schimpff und Ernst mögen gelesen warden. Darinnen allerley Welthändel, warhaffte Exempel, Gleichnussen, merckliche Historien (wie es gemeiniglich in allen Landen pflegt zuzugehen) angezeigt, und für die Augen gestellt warden. Jetzt allerest mit mancherley Bossen und kurtzweiligen Schimpffreden uber alle andere vorige Editiones gemehret und gebessert. Hierzu seindt kommen die hundert neuwe Historien, sonst Cento novella genannt... Sampt einem kurtzen Außzug der fürnembsten Historien deß Rollwagens, Gartengesellschafft und Wegkürtzers… auch bey Tugenthafften Frauwen und Jungkfrawen ohne schew und schändtliche ärgernuß mögen erziehlt werden. Jetzundt alles auffs new ubersehen, und an vielen orten gemehret. Dergleichen noch nie in Truck außgangen.

Frankfurt, Christoff Rab for Sigmund Feyerabend, 1583.

Folio [31 x 20 cm], (8), 551 pp, (13), including terminal blank. Title-page printed in red and black with large woodcut partially handcolored; large woodcut header on iir; and 3 large woodcuts in text on pp. 1, 199, and 527 (repeated from title). Late 19th century marbled boards. First few leaves a little creased in gutters; minor loss to blank margin of P4 affecting a handful of letters; repaired closed tear to corner of Xx1 with no loss of text. A few early marginal markings.p


Extremely rare sole edition of this voluminous ‘Volksbuch’ bringing together nearly a thousand satirical tales in a rich vernacular, all here of course ‘enlarged and improved’, with additions ‘never before appearing in print’. Like Boccacio’s original, it seems that even in the late 16th century such tales were intended to be recited orally for the amusement of an audience of both sexes: Sigmund Feyerabend’s preface (iir-iiir) makes it clear that he intends the book for “jeden person, Mann oder Weib, jungen Gesellen und Jungkfrauwen zu lessen oder zu hören”, while the title-page specifically confirms that the book can be read unabashedly by ‘virtuous women and maidens, without deleterious offense”. Evidently surviving poorly, we have located just a few copies of the Kurtzweilige und Lächerliche Geschichte und Historien in libraries worldwide, with just one in the US (Illinois).

The compendium begins with Johannes Pauli’s famous collection Schimpf und Ernst, first printed in 1522 in the midst of the Reformation. Like his contemporary Luther, Pauli (ca. 1455-1535) was a monk himself (Franciscan) but here pokes endless fun the clergy of all levels, for example in his tale of a pope who ceremoniously washes the feet of paupers but is accused of looking for money between their toes (# 339). By some accounts an apostate Jew, Pauli became a friend of Geiler von Kaiserberg, and his oft-reprinted collection influenced an entire generation of Protestant German satirists including Hans Sachs.

Following Schimpf und Ernst is Arigo’s German translation of the Decameron (ca. 1473), which is here curiously called “der neuwen Zeitung”. Finally, at the end we find three extracts from original works of further German satirists: Jörg Wickram (ca. 1505-1560)’s Rollwagen (pp. 527-542); Jakob Frey (ca. 1520-1562)’s Gartengesellschaft (pp. 543-551); and Martin Montanus (ca. 1537-1566)’s Wegkürtzer (pp. 543-551). As the titles suggest, these jocular tales were expressly intended for the entertainment of travelers, as depicted in their ‘Rollwagen’ in the woodcut on p. 527.

VD16 shows just 5 copies in German and Austrian libraries; OCLC adds the British Library, Illinois, and the National Library of Sweden only. Individual 16th-century printings of each of the constituent parts also prove to be very rare in census.


VD 16 P 969; Bacchi della Lega, Serie delle edizioni delle opere di Giovanni Boccaccio (1995), p. 72; cf also Monostory, Der Decamerone und die deutsche Prosa des 16 Jahrhunderts (1971); Florence N. Jones, Boccaccio and his imitators in German (1910), pp. 1-2; and Hawley (ed.), Reform and Counterreform: Dialectics of the Word in Western Christianity (1994), pp. 1-14.

Stock Code: BN#53561 Tags: ,