Lucie Storchová. Bohemian School Humanism and Its Editorial Practices (ca. 1550-1610)

Lucie Storchová. Bohemian School Humanism and Its Editorial Practices (ca. 1550-1610). Europa Humanistica: Collection Publiée par l’Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes; Bohemia and Moravia 2. Turnhout: Brepols, 2014. 369p., ill. ISBN 9782503551807. EUR 75.00 (hardback).

Besides a brief introduction in which Lucie Storchová explains her methodology and the volume’s origins, the text contains three chapters. The first of these gives a detailed description of Bohemian humanism practised in the University of Prague and in the town schools under its control during the second half of the sixteenth century and the first decade of the next. The driving force of this humanistic reform of dialectical and rhetorical standards was Philipp Melanchthon, who had taught several of those individuals associated later with the University of Prague. Melanchthon’s model was Marcus Tullius Cicero, whose style was deemed paramount. The defining method of inculcating an acceptable standard of Latinity was excerpting, rote learning, and imitation.

The second, shortest chapter of the volume provides biographical sketches of the humanist editors active in Prague’s Philosophical Faculty. Fifteen individuals are listed, some of whom formed part of the literary circle around Jan I Hodĕjovsky z Hodĕjov, a very fine Czech scholar and the possessor of a notable library.

The third and substantially largest chapter reprints the paratexts of almost thirty publications edited by Czech humanists. Of these, two important figures can illustrate their role in the univreisity’s literary field. The first is Paul Aquilinas’ (Pavel Vorličnẏ’) Elegantissimae colloquiorum formulae, ex Publii Terentii comaediis selectae, published in 1550. Storchová describes this as “a telling example of Humanist ‘excerpt reading’, that is, the fragmentation of classical texts into ‘building blocks’ usable in Latin conversation” (91). The second, considerably longer section (187-296) covers the work of Joannes Cocinus (Jan Kocin z Kocinét), who re-organised and re-edited the school editions of his Strasbourg teacher, Johannes Sturm. As Storchová points out, the main difference between the “excerpt reading” of other Czech humanists and Cocinus’ publications is that the latter are not editions of excepts or quotations taken from the original classical work but editions of complete classical works which could prove useful in teaching rhetoric and Greek. It is a sign of their place in the history of western European humanism that they were issued by the same firm of printer Rihel, used by Sturm.

In the acknowledgements, Storchová thanks three individuals for polishing her English and for translating some parts of the introduction. One cannot tell how much polishing was necessary, but the numerous grammatical infelicities and the misprints of the finished text of the first chapter certainly suggest that not nearly enough attention was paid to the polishing by Storchová. This is all the more unfortunate, as it mars the volume’s intellectual interest and visual attractiveness.

W. A. Kelly
Scottish Centre for the Book, Edinburgh Napier University