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Jocus Severus: A Serious Joke (white deluxe edition) by Michael Maier

Full Vellum, handbound with gilt title and device, raised spine bands, marbled endsheets and silk bookmark. Aviary folding plate. Fine typography with emblematic ornaments. Limited to 50 copies only.
Unread copy, "as new".

Jocus Severus was originally published in 1617 by Count Michael Maier and is here rendered into the English tongue from the Latin text by the remarkably able translator Darius Klein. Like his work on Giordano Bruno’s Cantus Circaeus, this is the First English Translation. In addition to the new translation, the Ouroboros Press edition of Jocus Severus distinguishes itself by employing new emblematic illustration work by Benjamin A. Vierling, who, in keeping with our publishing style, has produced fine illustrative ornaments and a fold-out plate depicting the aviary creatures of the text. These graphic elements complement the typographical details with an effect befitting a piece of fine Renaissance book art.

Michael Maier is well known in the historical milieu of alchemy due largely to his important work on alchemy and music, Atalanta Fugiens, yet his other works have remained obscure and unobtainable until now. An excellent biography of Maier can be found in the work of Hereward Tilton, The Quest for the Phoenix: Spiritual Alchemy and Rosicrucianism in the Work of Count Michael Maier (1569-1622). In the foregoing work, Tilton indicates the thrust of the Jocus Severus thus:

The Jocus Severus takes the form of a court of judgment upon the bird of wisdom sacred to Pallas Athena, the Owl – in this instance embodying chemia as the highest science. The Owl stands accused of a number of misdemeanours by an assembly of squawking and cantankerous birds, who represent the various critics of chemia. Council for the defense is the Hawk; presiding over the court is the Phoenix, the symbol of the Work’s perfection . . . . After facing her fellow birds’ accusations, the Owl and her Art are eventually vindicated by the Hawk’s expert defense, and she is adjudged Queen of the Birds by the Phoenix.

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