Avignon & Paris: Jean-Noel Leloup, 1751. With half-title, woodcut initials, and decorative head- and tail-pieces in each volume. Full calf, gilt spine with raised bands, joints somewhat fragile, spotting and soiling to exteriors; text is toned but clean. Item #15690
First edition. In a long preface, the French historian Dufresnoy presents a fascinating treatise on apparitions, dreams and visions. Intended to supplement his Traité historique et dogmatique sur les apparitions, les visions et les révélations particulières, published only a few months earlier, he deals principally with the historical dimension which he had neglected in the preceding work, expounding the need to apply the rules of historical evidence to reportedly supernatural phenomena. He details the nature and causes of such visions, creating eight separate classes, and instructing the reader how to determine if an apparition is true or false. The remainder of the book contains various treatises by other authors (as well as Dufresnoy’s comments thereon) regarding spirits, demons, magic, and other interesting (read troubling) phenomenon. Stories are retold of visitations at various locations, possessions, citings of demons and the devil, and tales of magical spells. A bibliography and index references over four hundred authors and over six hundred publications.
DuFresnoy (1674-1755) was the first bibliographer of alchemy. “His passion was to write, think, act, and live, with a kind of cynical freedom; and though badly lodged, clothed, and fed, he was still satisfied; liberty to say and write what he pleased; which liberty, however, he carried to so great an extreme, and so strangely abused, that he was sent to the bastille ten or twelve times” (Chalmers).