Friday, December 15, 2023


Woodcut of author attempting to escape and being tortured
We have lots of various captivity narratives in our collection. They are usually sensationalized stories set in New England--stories of terror designed to frighten and titillate. There is almost always a racially charged dichotomy set up between the "savage" and the "civilized" reflecting the pervading fears of the white settlers. We just acquired a new one that is both very different and still frighteningly similar. In this second edition of Bartolomej Georgijević's De afflictione tam captivorum quam etiam sub Turcae tributo viuentium Christianorum (Worms: excudebat Gregorius Comiander, 1545), the captive is a Croatian captured and enslaved by the Ottoman Empire. The same tropes appear: a good Christian is captured by a threatening non-Christian other and forced into servitude. 

Interestingly, Georgijević was also a talented linguist and the slender volume contains a basic Latin to Turkish lexicon and a short Croatian-Latin dictionary. The book took off, as so many captivity narratives did, and served as a highly biased account of Turkish culture at a time when Europe was both fascinated and terrified of that which lurked just to the East.

To take a look (it has seven wonderful woodcuts), ask for Rare DR481 .G46 1545.