De Cerebri Morbis: hoc est, omnibus fermè (quoniam à cerebro male affecto omnes ferè qui corpus humanum infestant, morbi oriuntur) curandis liber…

Basileae [Basel]: per Henrichum Petri,1549

8vo, 16 leaves, 540 pages, 2 leaves (colophon and woodcut printer’s device). Complete with the preliminary blank leaf †8. Some faint marginal dampstains on a few leaves towards the end, but a fine and very clean copy. Recent blind-tooled calf in contemporary style by Aquarius, red morocco label on spine. A few marginal notes in an early hand; small later library stamp effaced from title-page; the Haskell F. Norman copy, with his bookplate.

FIRST EDITION. The first book devoted entirely to brain disorders, including tremor, tetanus, vertigo, apoplexy, epilepsy and hemicrania. “In 1549, [Pratensis] published his last book, De cerebri morbis, ‘On the Diseases of the Brain’, a volume of 540 pages divided into 33 chapters and covering every cerebral disorder and disease from headache to dimwittedness, from loss of memory, epilepsy, drunkenness, tremors, and convulsions to frenzy, lethargy, catalepsy, mania, melancholy and love… This book was probably the first full-length consideration of all the topics that would later fall within the domain of neurology, as well as much else besides” (Midefort, A History of Madness in Sixteenth-Century Germany, p. 152). This substantial but very rare book has escaped the attention of most of the historians of psychiatry, neurology, and of specific disorders such as Temkin (The Falling Sickness) despite a 30-page chapter on epilepsy, Still (History of Paediatrics) and a similar chapter on infants, etc. etc. There is also a substantial chapter on apoplexy. Jason Pratensis, or à Pratis (1486–1558), the son of a doctor, studied in Louvain and in Antwerp. He later became a court physician and a town official, living his whole life on the island of Walcheren, practising in the small town of Zyriksee where he was born. He was a friend of Tycho Brahe. G&M 4511.02. Norman catalogue 1740.


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