On the Edge of Truth and Honesty: Principles and Strategies of Fraud and Deceit in the Early Modern Period


In the early modern period, deceit and fraud were common issues. Acutely aware of the ubiquity and multiplicity of simulation and dissimulation, people from this period made serious efforts to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon, trying to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable, pleasant and unpleasant, wicked and virtuous forms of deceit, and seeking to unravel its principles, strategies, and functions. The twelve case-studies in this volume focus on the use of deceit by several groups of people in different spheres of life, as well as on its representation in literary and artistic genres, and its conceptualization in philosophical and rhetorical discourses. The studies testify to the rich variety of deceitful strategies applied by people from the early modern period, as well as to the subtlety and diversity of the conceptual frameworks they construed in order to grasp the many aspects of the elusive yet all-pervasive phenomenon of deceit. Contributors include: Daniel Acke, Jacques Bos, Wiep van Bunge, Evelien Chayes, Paul J.C.M. Franssen, Paul van Heck, Toon van Houdt, Alfons K.L. Thijs, Bert Timmermans, Johannes Trapman, Mark van Vaeck, Natascha Veldhorst, and Johan Verberckmoes.


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Biographical Note

Toon van Houdt teaches Latin in the Department of Classics at the Catholic University of Leuven. His research focuses mainly on verbal and non-verbal strategies of communication in classical antiquity and early modern times. He is co-editor of Self-Presentation and Social Identification: The Rhetoric and Pragmatics of Letter Writing in Early Modern Times (Leuven, 2002). Jan L. de Jong Ph.D. (1987) in Art History, Leiden University, is assistant professor of Italian Renaissance Art at Groningen University, The Netherlands. He has published numerous articles on Italian Renaissance painting. Zoran Kwak carried out research on the pictorial tradition and meaning of Dutch kitchen scenes (c. 1590–1640) as a Ph.D. student at Leiden University since 1997. At the moment he works at the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence and prepares the publication of the volume dedicated to Latium and Rome of the Repertory of Dutch and Flemish Paintings in Italian Collections. Marijke Spies Ph.D. in Literary History (1979) is professor emeritus in pre-1770 Dutch literature at the Free University, Amsterdam, and in the History of Rhetoric at the University of Amsterdam. She has published monographies and articles in both disciplines. Her writings in English are collected under the title Rhetoric, Rhetoricians and Poets. Studies in Renaissance Poetry and Poetics (Amsterdam UP, 1999). Marc van Vaeck is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Literature at the University of Leuven and has published on 16th- and 17th-century Dutch literature, and Dutch emblem literature. His doctoral dissertation was published in 1994: Adriaen van de Vennes Tafereel van de Belacchende Werelt (Den Haag, 1635). 3 vols. (Gent: Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde, 1994).

Table of contents

List of Illustrations Notes on the Editors of this Volume List of Contributors Introduction. Word Histories, and Beyond: Towards a Conceptualization of Fraud and Deceit in Early Modern Times, Toon van Houdt I. DISCOURSES 1. Erasmus on Lying and Simulation, Johannes Trapman 2. Cymbalum Politicorum, Consultor Dolosus. Two Dutch Academics on Niccolò Machiavelli, Paul van Heck 3. The Hidden Self of the Hypocrite, Jacques Bos 4. Dissimulation et Secret chez Vauvenargues, Daniel Acke 5. Spinoza and the Idea of Religious Imposture, Wiep van Bunge II. PRACTICES 6. Perceptions of Deceit and Innovation in the Antwerp Textile Industry (Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries), Alfons K.L. Thijs 7. The Seventeenth-Century Antwerp Elite and Status Honour. The Presentation of Self and the Manipulation of Social Perception, Bert Timmermans III. REPRESENTATIONS 8. Testing or Tempting? The Limits of Permissible Deceit in Early Modern English Drama, Paul J.C.M. Franssen 9. Tromper les Plus Clair-Voyans. The Counterfeit of Precious Stones in the Work of Rémy Belleau, Evelien Chayes 10. ‘Taste the Fare and Chew it with Your Eyes’: A Painting by Pieter Pietersz and the Amusing Deceit in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Kitchen Scenes, Zoran Kwak 11. A Singing Siren, Enchanting Men to Sleep. Musical Deceit in Dutch Renaissance Drama, Natascha Veldhorst 12. Who Do Beggars Deceive? Adriaen van de Venne, Recreational Literature and the Pleasure of Forging Texts, Marc van Vaeck & Johan Verberckmoes Index Nominum


The studies in this volume are important for historians of the Early Modern Period from all disciplines, and for all those interested in the role and importance of fraud and deceit vs. truth and honesty in Early Modern society.