Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, 1919. Facsimile edition, number 263 of 320 copies, of this work of poetry, translated into English as The Ploughman and Death, composed in Early New High German around 1401. Der Ackermann (also known as Der Ackermann aus Böhmen) is one of the most important works of late medieval German literature, characterized by its elevated language and vocabulary. It is considered a precursor of early humanism in German literature. The earliest printed version appeared in 1460, and it is one of the two earliest printed books in German; sixteen manuscripts and seventeen early printed editions are extant. Five colored woodcuts, including frontispiece, depicting enthroned skeletons, a corpse in a coffin, and animated skeletons with scythes and weapons “reaping” the living. Corners lightly rubbed, boards slightly toned. Spine has minor soiling. A very good copy. Vellum spine over brown paper boards lettered in black and red. Edges stained red. , [1. colophon] pp. Item #16531
Johannes von Saaz (also known as Johannes von Tepl, 1350-1415) was a Bohemian writer of the German language and one of the earliest known writers of prose in Early New High German. He was literate in Czech, German, and Latin. He is presumed to have studied at universities in Prague, Bologna and Padua. In 1383, he became a solicitor in atec (Saaz) and, in 1386, a rector of the town’s Latin school. He lived in Prague from 1411. He spent nearly his entirely life in the Kingdom of Bohemia, during the reign of kings Charles IV (1316-1378) and Wenceslaus IV (1361-1419). Der Ackermann consists of a dialogue between the Ploughman and Death about Margaretha, the Ploughman’s recently deceased wife. Central themes of the work are life, mankind, and morality. It contains thirty-four short chapters; in the odd-numbered chapters, the Ploughman accuses Death of robbing him of his wife and in the even-numbered chapters, Death answers, pitting logic and cynicism against the emotional viewpoint of the Ploughman. In Chapter 33, God appears to judge the dispute. Chapter 34 is a lyrical prayer of the Ploughman for Margaretha’s soul.