Friday, December 28, 2012

If you find an intriguing title

If you find a seventeenth-century Dutch pamphlet with a title that seems too similar to "Wilhelm Friess" to be a coincidence, you will want to find a facsimile.

If you find the item in the special collections catalog of the university library that owns it, you will probably ask yourself what else might be in this collection. Your keyword search for "proph*" may turn up 393 hits.

As you search through the results, you will find dozens of pamphlets you wish you could see.

Before you contact the library to order facsimiles, you will ask yourself if some of these pamphlets are already available online. You will type the titles into Google.

If you type the titles into Google, you will find a half-dozen digitized pamphlets available through Google Books.

You may even find among them a seventeenth-century Dutch pamphlet with a title that seems too similar to "Wilhelm Friess" to be a coincidence...

That - with apologies to Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond - is more or less the process that led to the discovery of two new editions of "Wilhelm Friess II." I'm still waiting to see the "Night Vision of 24 April 1601" attributed to Paul Grebner, which I suspect is "Friess II" in disguise, but the search through the Leiden UB catalog turned up another night vision, this one ostensibly translated from German and attributed to the otherwise unknown "Jerrassemus van Eydenborch" (see the Grebner bibliography). Facsimiles of two Ghent copies are available on Google Books (here and here), and it turns out that the text has combined "Friess II" with Grebner's "Second Marvelous Prophecy" and some other material. The Friess text is thoroughly reworked, with the appearance of the armies reordered to create a final conflict between two sides (as in Grebner) rather than an invasion from all sides from which a small band of survivors escapes. The printer of the first of two editions, "Frans de Vlamingh" of Emden, appears to be a pseudonym that only appears in connection with this work.

I've suspected that Friess and Grebner are connected in some way, but now there is some firm evidence for it.