This essay provides a case study of the printed Middle Dutch alchemical treatise Duytsche Alchimye (‘Dutch Alchemy’), by looking at its content, generic conventions, textual history, production, and reception. The text, first printed in 1551 and reprinted unaltered in 1600, deals mainly with the fabrication of the philosopher’s stone and alchemical elixirs. It is the first translation of an originally French treatise, presumably written around 1432 by a Parisian alchemist, Jehan Saulnier, on his death bed. The Dutch print of 1551 is particularly remarkable as it is part of a larger volume of seven texts, mainly on medicine, all of which were translated, printed and sold by the same three men in a distinct partnership. Moreover, it concerns an alchemical text (traditionally a genre with a limited target audience), which was translated into a vernacular language and consequently printed, suggesting some sort of predefined market. By means of this case study, this essay also wants to highlight the importance of research in the somewhat neglected domain of Dutch alchemical literature and the promising results it may yield, in particular regarding textual tradition, production, and reception.
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