Satire on tobacco smoking

BIRKEN, SIGMUND VON; BALDE, JAKOB – Die Truckene Trunkenheit. Eine aus Jacobi Balde Lateinischem gedeutschte Satyra oder Straff-Rede wider den Mißbrauch des Tabaks. Samt einem Discurs von dem Nahmen, Ankunfft, Natur, Krafft und Würkung dieses Krauts. Nürnberg, Michael Endter, 1658. 8vo [123 x 70 mm]. (8), 256 pp., including engraved title. Later vellum binding.

Very rare first edition.

Sigmund von Birken’s (1626-1681) treatise on dry drunkenness is not only a very free German adaption of Jakob Balde’s (1604-1668) Satyra Contra Abusum Tabaci (1657) but also a fairly factual and scholarly presentation of tobacco smoking, which repeatedly exposes a possible use of the herb. The satire criticises of the right, but especially the medical use of tobacco. For example, the author warns pregnant women against smoking and passive smoking. Despite all the criticism, Birken emphasizes the inspirational power of tobacco. His position on smoking remains ultimately unclear. To what extent the author himself relied on the enjoyment of tobacco when writing the text is uncertain. However, it is fact that Birken received a tobacco life annuity from the Nuremberg dealer Johann Nicolaus Lay on account of his book.

Birken’s analogy of dry drunkenness is due to the fact that the German language was still missing a term for what we call, since the second half of the 17th century, smoking. Birken was one of the most versatile and prolific German authors of the 17th century. He published, among other things, pastoral poems, devotional songs, histories and historical dramas. Birken’s estate is of great value for the study of the German Baroque literature. It consists of about 10,000 manuscript pages and about 2,000 letters from 400 correspondents and is now kept in the Germanische Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg.

Bibliography: VD17 14:641707D; Dünnhaupt – Bibliographisches Handbuch der Barockliteratur. Stuttgart, 1980-1981. I, p. 339; Dirk Niefanger – In „Plutons Hof-Capelle“. Tabakrausch in Sigmund von Birkens Die Truckene Trunkenheit (1658) (in: Trunkenheit. Kulturen des Rausches. Amsterdam, 2008); Egon Caesar Conte Conti – „Die Truckene Trunkenheit“. Ursprung, Kampf und Triumph des Rauchens. Leipzig, Insel, 1913.

EUR 2500,-