In the libraries and archives everywhere, photographer Joan Fontcuberta sought out old books that have been victims of censorship. Here is a few examples of her findings.
Adagia by Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (Erasmus) is an annotated collection of Greek and Latin proverbs compiled during the Renaissance.
Erasmus’ Adagia. The book was published in Basel, in 1541, and is currently housed at the Library of the University of Salamanca.
Some of the censored passages:
A French translation of L’Arcenal de Chirurgie by German surgeon Johannes Scultetus (1595-1645), one of the outstanding surgeons of the 17th century, is another book in Fontcuberta‘s collection.The book describes and illustrates an arsenal of surgical equipment, methods of treatment of common ailments, and even two human monsters.
Images of censored pages:
Table 39. “On surgical means of soothing painful urination, reveal the scrotum and the glans penis, as well as two methods of treating an umbilical hernia.”
Table 44. “Treatment of hemorrhoids using an enema.”
Table 45. “On the methods of accurately diagnosing ulcers and fistulas of the anus and their treatment, as well as two human monsters.”
Sebastian Münster (1488 – 1552) was a German cartographer, cosmographer and a Christian Hebraist scholar. His magnum opus, the Cosmographia was written in 1544, and considered to be the earliest German description of the world. The National Library of Spain, Madrid, has an edition of Cosmographia published in Basel in 1550. Pages devoted to Erasmus looking like this:
Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam. Woodcut by Hans Rudolf Manuel with a portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger in Cosmographia by Sebastian Münster.
Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam. Woodcut portrait by Henry Holzmuller after Hans Holbein the Younger.
Illustrated description of Rotterdam, according to Munster, is glorious above all because this is a place where Erasmus was born and studied.
The inscription on the margin says, “Portrait of Erasmus, made during his lifetime.”
Conrad Gessner (1516 – 1565) wrote his Mithridates, de differentiis linguarum […] obseruationes in 1555. Although this is a volume of modest length, its author intended for it to be a comprehensive survey of the world’s languages. The vastness of Gessner’s scholarship yields a cumulative index – both of the direct sources of the Mithridates and of authors quoted – in excess of 150 names, cited more than 500 times.
National Library of Spain, Madrid, has a Mithridate published in Zurich in 1610 with a title page looking like this:
The title page of the book published in 1610 says, “Mithridates by Gessner — a learning experience in different languages, both ancient and modern, those that are on all the earth. Issued and interspersed with comments made by a publisher, Caspar Wasser. The book opens with a letter to Ambassador Peter de Bredenrode.
The letter starts: “Brilliant and noble Peter de Bredenrode, adviser to the united confederation of Belgian regions, ambassador to Germany.
I suggest to you, oh virtuous man, the fruit of our most glorious gift — Gessner’s “Mithridates” (what a work and what a man!) etc.
Someone must’ve been a lesser admirer of a noble Peter de Bredenrode and obliterated his name from the title page.