IIII Livres des spectres ou apparitions et visions d esprits, anges et demons, se monstrans sensiblement aux hommes by Pierre LE LOYER, Angers: pour Georges Neveu, 1586
FIRST EDITION in fair condition in a fine tan folding case with a gilt lettered red leather label. Bound in original soft vellum covers with leather laces.
8vo 8″ – 9″ tall; 1014 pages. French text. Two parts in one vol. Roman letter, some Italic and Greek.
Condition: Pieces missing from spine head & rear corners. Text is tightly bound & is misnumbered on several pages. 2 volumes in 1. [12, 650pp]; [364pp, 1]. Livres I & II go to page 642, but actually there are 650pp. I have collated & the text is complete. Illustrated with historiated letters; head & tailpiece vignettes. Top margin is dampstained, edge chipped, has a few worm holes: it is gradually worn down to right above the text on the last 100 pages: the top line of text on the last page (errata) is affected. A few pages have dampstains on front & lower margins. Has only a front endpaper with handwritten notes. First & last few pages edgeworn.
Rare first edition of this highly influential and important work on ghosts, visions, demons, witches, and transformations by the the demonologist and poet Le Loyer (1550-1634). Using a number of ancient authors as sources, both religious and secular, Le Loyer details the causes of apparitions, the natures of spirits and demons, magicians and sorcerers, and how they communicate. Zachary Jones made a translation, the only early English version, that corresponded with the second French edition 1605. This work introduced the term Spectre into the English language. Le Loyer was a very considerable scholar, widely read in the medieval authors such as Lull and Nider and their later counterparts, Cardan, Lemnius and Sprenger. Whilst admitting that in many cases ghosts, apparitions, demons and prodigies were merely the result of a deranged imagination, hypersensitivity or natural occurrences, he insists that both good and bad spirits do appear to men in visible form. He discusses at length the question of the return of the souls of the dead, citing the opinions of Jewish cabalists and Moslems. Also considered in detail are the raising of demons, necromancy, the distinguishing of evil spirits from Angels, the souls of the dead, the use of charms and the practice of exorcism. He is contemptuous of Paraclesus and dismissive of alchemical medicine in general. In the first chapter Le Loyer attempts to define the nature of spirits which the author calls spectres while also developing a scientific approach to this human phenomenon, which he distinguishes from the study of ghosts. In Le Loyer s opinion, there is a real difference between on the one hand, an apparition that is the product of the human imagination (insane or not), which he calls a fantasm and, on the other hand, the apparition of a Spirit who, of its own accord takes shape in the human imagination as a spectre. (Huot, p. 578). Éliane Laberge. Ghost stories by Pierre Le Loyer. Before his treatise on ghosts appeared in 1586, Le Loyer was known as a playwright and poet . he published a translation of Ovid s Ars Amatoria and three comedies.By the mid 1580 s Le Loyer was a writer of some repute. Now back in Angers the author chose to move away from poetry and devote his energies to a new project, a treatise on ghosts. The publication was evidently a costly and complex undertaking. George Nepveu, who had just been made maitre libraire-jure to the University of Angers, oversaw the publication which had to be financed at Le Loyer s own expense. . the result a quarto of over a thousand pages was an object de luxe, marked out for the gentleman s library. . The sheer number not to mention the range of Le Loyer s sources are indeed impressive. So extensive is his reading in the Church Fathers and medieval theology, despite his lack of formal training, that Serclier was led to descibe him as un grand jusrisconsulte et theologian tout ensemble . Over and above his Patristic sources, which he shared with a number of other writers on ghosts, Le Loyer s inventio also included a number of hitherto unknown stories and examples Le Loyer s expertise as a linguist and a lawyer allowed him access to an unprecedented range of spectral narratives. His treatise is also notable for being the first.
Paul Lacroix, in the Bulletin du Bibliophile, 1861, “tells that a nineteenth century zealot burned the copies he could get to fight against the occult influence of the book” (Bechtel).