One of the First Books Devoted to Library Science, From the library of Joachim Gomez de la Cortina

Araoz, Francisco de (fl. 1st half of the 17th c.)

De bene disponenda bibliotheca, ad meliorem cognitionem loci & materiae, qualitatisque librorum, litteratis perutile opusculum.

Madrid: Francisco Martinez, 1631


Octavo: 14.6 x 9.2 cm. (24), 57, (11) leaves. Collation: ¶-¶¶¶8, A-H8, I4. With an engraved frontispiece (leaf ¶2)

FIRST EDITION. EXTREMELY RARE. I have located only 3 copies in the U.S.: Univ. of Kansas, Univ. of Georgia, and The Morgan Library. (The Newberry copy recorded in OCLC is in fact a reproduction.) OCLC and KVK locate a mere 12 copies worldwide.

With an engraved frontispiece by Jean de Courbes (1592?-1641?), woodcut initials, head- and tail-pieces. Text printed within a double fillet. 19th-century Spanish green morocco, sides paneled with double gilt fillet, at the center gilt coat-of-arms of the Marquis de Morante (1808-1868), surrounded in the corners by his crests, with his motto “Gomez de la Cortina et amicorum fallitur hora legendo”, spine with four raised bands and gilt-lettered title, inner gilt dentelles, endleaves in caillouté paper, gilt title. A very good copy from the library of Joachim Gomez de la Cortina. Wican Free Public Library’s bookplate and blind stamps repeated at the beginning and at the end of the volume.

The treatise explains how to organize a library, with references to an ideal library, to the author’s personal library, and to that of the most important Spanish bibliophile of the Siglo de oro, Lorenzo Ramírez de Prado. The work is divided into fifteen chapters, each with subdivisions arranged according to topic. These categories include religious and secular (including comic) poetry, dictionaries, books of commonplaces, rhetoric, secular history (including fictional works), mathematics, natural philosophy, moral philosophy, medicine, emblems, politics, law, etc. (For a full list of the 15 categories and their subdivisions see the end of this description.)

The books that Araoz uses as examples provide insight into how libraries were conceptualized in the 17th c., and the cultural milieu in which the author operated. In the section on fabulous and comic histories, we find (not surprisingly) Don Quixote, but also the heretical, anonymously published “Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities”. In the section on secular poets, in which Araoz names the great 15th c. Spanish poet Juan de Mena, and Cervantes’ friend Pedro de Padilla, the author advises the reader to include works on poetic theory, such as Alfonso López Pinciano, one of the first critics to regard modern epic poets as valid literary models. Comic poetry (Aristophanes, Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, etc.) seems to have been especially important to Araoz, whose chapter on the subject occupies 15 pages.

Writing two years before the Catholic Church’s condemnation of Galileo, Araoz introduces his section on astronomy and astrology with three names: Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Tycho Brahe, demonstrating succinctly the importance of representing the three competing models of the solar system. The sixth chapter also includes books on music, geography, clock-making, perspective, mechanics, military strategy, the use of arms, horsemanship, and games.

The present copy comes from the library of another great Spanish book collector, the Marquis Joachim Gomez de la Cortina, rector of the University of Madrid and Senator in Spain.

Cortina himself published a catalogue of his library, Catalogus librorum Doctoris D. Joach. Gomez de la Cortina, March. De Morante, qui in aedibus suis exstant, printed in Madrid in 1854 with a supplement appeared posthumously in 1870 (cf. P. Hummel, La bibliotheque du Marquis de Morante: genèse d’un catalogue, in: “Bulletin du bibliophile”, 1992). His over 100,000 volumes were sold two years later in Paris through the Delbergue-Cormont auction house (Catalogue illustre de la bibliothèque de feu M. le Marquis de Morante ancien recteur de l’Université de Madrid, Senateur du Royaume d’Espagne, Paris, 1872).

Almost nothing is known about the life of Francisco de Araoz. We know that he was Alguacil Mayor or Constable in Sevilla and had the chance of visiting the library of Lorenzo Ramírez de Prado. We have no records of a library organized following the complex system proposed by Araoz in this book (J. Solis de lo Santos, El ingenioso bibliólogo Don Francisco de Araoz (De bene disponenda bibliotheca, Matriti, 1631), Sevilla, 1997, passim).

The Work is divided by the author into 15 Categories: 1. Calligraphy, handwriting; Dictionaries, lexica; Grammars. 2. Commonplaces, Sententia, Anthologies. 3. Rhetoric. 4. Secular and imaginary (e.g. Don Quixote) histories. 5. Secular poetry, including comedic poetry. 6. Geometry, Music, Arithmetic, Astrology; Geography, Horology, Perspective, Armaments, Horsemanship, Weights and Measures, Mechanics, and Games. 7. Natural Philosophy, Medicine, Agriculture, Food and Diet. 8. Moral philosophy, Emblems, Hieroglyphics, Symbols, Proverbs, Morals. 9. Politics, Government, Ethics, Law. 10. Canon Law. 11. Metaphysics, Scholastic Theology. 12. Scripture, Bible translators, Biblical exegesis and commentary. 13. Ecclesiastical History. 14. Church Fathers, Doctors of the Church. 15. Composers of Hymns and Religious Music; Books of Hours, Sacred Music

OCLC, 928209128; Iberian Books, II, A.S. Wilkinson & A. Ulla Lorenzo, no. 21213.