The Development of the Basil Valentine Corpus and Biography: Pseudepigraphic Corpora and Paracelsian Ideas

In: Early Science and Medicine
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  • 1 Johns Hopkins University, Dept. of History of Science and Technology

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Early modern alchemical literature is full of pseudonymous corpora. One of the most famous of these is connected with the name Basil Valentine, a supposed Benedictine monk and master of both medicinal and transmutational chymistry. Accreted over a period of nearly a century, the Valentine corpus is complex and heterogeneous. This paper endeavors to organize and recount the construction of the corpus by an array of authors, editors, publishers, and bibliographers, to sort out some of its strata, and to trace the origins and modifications of some of its texts. This exercise will be useful not only for further investigations of Basil Valentine and other pseudonymous chymical corpora, but also for broader studies of forgery and book history.