Edmund Campion’s Rationes Decem: A Survey of Campion’s Books in Polish Libraries
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Edmund Campion (1540-1581) was a Jesuit priest and fellow of St. John’s College in Oxford, who was, first and foremost, most famed in his time for his extraordinary rhetorical skills. Today, a glimpse of the exceptional oratorical skills of the man can be provided by books and very rare copies of which can be found in Poland’s libraries. This attests to the exceptional Polish interest in Campion’s works throughout the centuries. This article presents the partial results of original research findings in an area often neglected by English and Polish literary historians. It aims to provide a descriptive survey of Campion’s rare books which can be found in selected libraries in Poland. By employing methodology drawn from the disciplines of History of the Book and Philology, it is hoped that the reader can be thus more acquainted with the existence of the rare books found in Polish libraries and thus equip him with a better and deeper appreciation of the unique cultural and historical value of the rare books in Polish library holdings. The article begins by briefly describing the history of the provenance of some of the Campion rare books which we have today thanks to the bibliophile and collection initiatives of some of Poland’s eminent statesmen such as Tadeusz Czacki and Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski. This is then followed by a brief history of Campion and his times. Particular emphasis shall be made on the history of the printing of “Rationes Decem,” as it was printed secretly. Finally, a brief description of the relveant rare books, that is translations and later editions of the “Rationes” shall be briefly described. The wide interest, as best illustrated by Skarga’s mentioning of the text or the Pisecius’ reply, in the “Rationes” shall also be discussed as it testifies to the wide interest that the person of Campion and his text enjoyed in the times of the Polish Commonwealth.
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