Thursday, 29 April 2010
Mnemonica by Willis, John
Book description: London : printed and are to be sold by Leonard Sowersby, at the Turn-stile, near New-market, in Lincolns-Inn fields, 1661.. Octavo, . First edition of the Sowersby translation. A-M8 One full page woodcut of a (memory) theater . This copy is bound in full contemporary, sheep with blind ruled borders and spine. It exhibits light browning but is, otherwise, clean and free of defect. . Mnemonica is interesting chiefly because of its use of the Elizabethan theater as a memory locus. Dividing a theater in half, lengthwise, Willis produces what he terms a memory repository having two rooms, designed for very simple mnemotechnic, such as shopping lists or prices. The importance of Willis' work lies in its probable influence on Robert Fludd (1574-1637). In the second part of his Utriusque Cosmoi Maioris scilicet et Minoris, Metaphysica, Physica atque Technica Historia (Oppenheim, 1619), Fludd develops this use of the theater as a memory locus along Hermetic-cabalist lines. Frances Yates points out that Fludd uses as his model locus the famous Globe Theater in London. Willis may also be the inspiration behid Fludd's theaters of Night and Day in the zodiac, parts of an occult memory system. Mnemonica was translated into English by Leonard Sowersby in 1661.