- Binding sl. scratched and rubbed; joints split(ting); lower corners showing. A fine copy.
= The first Dutch translation of the original Latin edition Mundus subterraneus (Amst., 1664). Wellcome III, 395; Nissen ZBI 2197; Sabin 37968; Dünnhaupt 16; Caillet 5783 ("Le plus curieux des nombreux ouvrages de ce savant"); Ferguson I, 467; De Backer-S. IV, 1060. B.L.Merrill, Athanasius Kircher, no.17: "The Mundus subterraneus, perhaps the most popular of Kircher's works in his day and the best known in ours, is cited in letters and works of such contemporaries as Martin Lister (1639-1712), the zoologist and geologist; Robert Moray (1608?-73), chemist, metallurgist, and first president of the Royal Society; the philosophers Baruch Spinoza (1632-77) and John Locke (1632-1704); Henry Oldenburg (1618-77), the secretary of the Royal Society and the first professional scientific administrator; Nicolaus Steno (1638-86), the anatomist and geologist; and the physicist Christian Huygens (1629-95). The basis and impetus for the Mundus subterraneus was Kircher's visit to Sicily in 1637-38, where he witnessed an eruption of Aetna and Stromboli. He prefaced the work with his own narrative of the trip, including his spectacular descent into Vesuvius upon his return to Italy. His observations of these volcanoes led him to conclude that the center of the earth is a massive internal fire for which the volcanoes are mere safety valves.
But the work is not solely geologic. Kircher continues with fantastic speculations about the interior of the earth, its hidden lakes, its rivers of fire, and its strange inhabitants. Major topics include gravity, the moon, the sun, eclipses, ocean currents, subterranean waters and fires, meteorology, rivers and lakes, hydraulics, minerals and fossils, subterranean giants, beasts and demons, poisons, metallurgy and mining, alchemy, the universal seed and the generation of insects, herbs, astrological medicine, distillation, and fireworks. In this work he discloses his experience with palingenesis: he had allegedly resuscitated a plant from its ashes. Much of the work deals with alchemy. Kircher ridicules Paracelsus' belief in transmutation and discredits the work of alchemists in general, complaining about the obscurity of their writings. This diatribe brought him vicious criticism and abuse later in life from alchemists who no longer feared the authority of the Jesuit order. Kircher does, however, praise the work of the "true chemist," the chymiotechnicus." SEE ILLUSTRATION PLATE CXXXVII.