Early Vernacular Medical Advice Books and their Popular Appeal in Early Modern Italy

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This work considers the explosion of medical advice publications in the vernacular that characterises the first two centuries of printing and in particular their chronology and the different textual genres that made up this literature in early modern Italy. It shows that, contrary to the emphasis on recipe books in recent scholarship, its composition was much more varied and regimens of health, books about the medicinal properties of naturalia, and compendia of these various genres matched and sometimes exceeded the fortune of recipe books. It then goes on to ask the crucial question: what made some vernacular medical advice books particularly appealing to a wide non professional or non Latinate audience, while other similar publications attracted little attention? To this end it explores for the first time the relative importance of the various elements that might have had an impact on the appeal of a book: how relevant were the book’s visual and physical features, its contents and possible uses, its author and patron in determining the fortune of a medical advice book?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-303
JournalNuncius. Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jun 2021

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