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Literary Forgery in Early Modern Europe, 1450–1800

edited by Walter Stephens and Earle A. Havens
assisted by Janet E. Gomez

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Why was the Renaissance also the golden age of forgery?

Forgery is an eternal problem. In literature and the writing of history, suspiciously attributed texts can be uniquely revealing when subjected to a nuanced critique. False and spurious writings impinge on social and political realities to a degree rarely confronted by the biographical criticism of yesteryear. They deserve a more critical reading of the sort far more often bestowed on canonical works of poetry and prose fiction.

The first comprehensive treatment of literary and historiographical forgery to appear in a quarter of a century…

Why was the Renaissance also the golden age of forgery?

Forgery is an eternal problem. In literature and the writing of history, suspiciously attributed texts can be uniquely revealing when subjected to a nuanced critique. False and spurious writings impinge on social and political realities to a degree rarely confronted by the biographical criticism of yesteryear. They deserve a more critical reading of the sort far more often bestowed on canonical works of poetry and prose fiction.

The first comprehensive treatment of literary and historiographical forgery to appear in a quarter of a century, Literary Forgery in Early Modern Europe, 1450–1800 goes well beyond questions of authorship, spotlighting the imaginative vitality of forgery and its sinister impact on genuine scholarship. This volume demonstrates that early modern forgery was a literary tradition in its own right, with distinctive connections to politics, Greek and Roman classics, religion, philosophy, and modern literature. The thirteen essays draw immediate inspiration from Johns Hopkins University’s acquisition of the Bibliotheca Fictiva, the world’s premier research collection dedicated exclusively to the subject of literary forgery, which consists of several thousand rare books and unique manuscript materials from the early modern period and beyond.

The early modern explosion in forgery of all kinds—particularly in the kindred documentary fields of literary and archaeological falsification—was the most visible symptom of a dramatic shift in attitudes toward historical evidence and in the relation of texts to contemporary society. The authors capture the impact of this evolution within many fundamental cultural transformations, including the rise of print, changing tastes and fortunes of the literary marketplace, and the Protestant and Catholic Reformations.

Contributors: Frederic Clark, James Coleman, Richard Cooper, Arthur Freeman, Anthony Grafton, A. Katie Harris, Earle A. Havens, Jack Lynch, Shana D. O’Connell, Ingrid Rowland, Walter Stephens, Elly Truitt, Kate Tunstall

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Literary Forgery in Early Modern Europe, 1450–1800

edited by Walter Stephens and Earle A. Havens
assisted by Janet E. Gomez

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Request Exam CopyRequest Review Copy
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Reviews

Reviews

A mature and wide-ranging reflection on the subject of literary forgery that demonstrates how the field might be developed in future years, this book offers privileged insights into the perennial feature of human inventiveness and perversity that is literary forgery. All the contributions are hugely entertaining and illuminate different sectors of the topic in a way which is very satisfying.

When does invention become fraud? Is it the author or the reader who perpetrates the falsehood? Tackling ghosts and impostures, texts manufactured to mislead, and historical writers made to speak falsely, this wonderful collection tastes the ripest fruits engineered for a new field of early modern study: the Bibliotheca Fictiva.

The essays gathered in this volume demonstrate that studying early modern European literary forgeries is a fascinating cultural adventure. Forged documents from the weighty tomes of Annius of Viterbo to the letter of the Virgin Mary for the citizens of Messina showed that forgeries were capable of representing a surprising variety of polemics.

Just as we can't help but admire the con artist's stings and scams, so readers of this wide-ranging collection of papers will take pleasure in discovering—thanks to the investigations of these learned academic Sherlocks—not only the ingenuity and chutzpah of some notable Renaissance forgers but also the possible reasons behind their impostures.

Literary Forgery provides a fascinating meditation upon the proliferation of spurious early modern documents that invented elements of the classical and medieval past and embellished aspects of the early modern world. Filled with deeply researched case studies of forgers and forgeries, this delightful volume explores the fluidity of fact and fiction. Welcome to the early modern 'House of Forgery'!

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
312
ISBN
9781421426877
Illustration Description
10 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments

Introduction. Forgery's Valhalla
Walter Stephens and Earle A. Havens

1. Hoax and Forgery, Whimsy and Fraud: Taxonomic Reflections on the Bibliotheca Fictiva
Arthur

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments

Introduction. Forgery's Valhalla
Walter Stephens and Earle A. Havens

1. Hoax and Forgery, Whimsy and Fraud: Taxonomic Reflections on the Bibliotheca Fictiva
Arthur Freeman
2. Babelic Confusion: Literary Forgery and the Bibliotheca Fictiva
Earle A. Havens
3. Forgery, Misattribution, and a Case of Secondary Pseudonymity: Aethicus Ister's Cosmographia and Its Early Modern Multiplications
Frederic Clark
4. Marvelous History: Authority and Credibility in Medieval Histories of Troy
E. R. Truitt
5. Forging Relations between East and West: The Invented Letters of Sultan Mehmed II
James K. Coleman
6. Fashioning Noah: How a Forger Turned an Etruscan God into a Biblical Figure
Shana D. O'Connell
7. Annius of Viterbo as a Student of the Jews: The Sources of His Information
Anthony Grafton
8. Exposing the Archforger: Annius of Viterbo's First Master Critic
Walter Stephens
9. Inventing Gallic Antiquities in Renaissance France
Richard Cooper
10. Material and Textual Forgery in the Lead Books of Granada
A. Katie Harris
11. Melchior Inchofer, S.J., and the Letter of the Virgin Mary to the Citizens of Messina
Ingrid D. Rowland
12. "Make Way for the Ghost!" Forgery, Patriotic Mythology, and the Living Dead
Kate E. Tunstall
13. England's Ireland, Ireland's England: William Henry Ireland's National Offense
Jack Lynch

Contributors
Index

Author Bios
Walter Stephens
Featured Contributor

Walter Stephens

Walter Stephens is the Charles S. Singleton Professor of Italian Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He served as a co-curator of the 2014 rare book exhibition of the Bibliotheca Fictiva collection and accompanying catalogue, Fakes, Lies, and Forgeries.
Featured Contributor

Earle A. Havens

Earle A. Havens is the Nancy H. Hall Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts in the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins University. He served as a co-curator of the 2014 rare book exhibition of the Bibliotheca Fictiva collection and accompanying catalogue, Fakes, Lies, and Forgeries.
Featured Contributor

Janet E. Gomez

Janet E. Gomez earned her PhD in Italian from Johns Hopkins University. She served as a co-curator of the 2014 rare book exhibition of the Bibliotheca Fictiva collection and accompanying catalogue, Fakes, Lies, and Forgeries.