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Index Librorum Prohibitorum: 1600-1966

Article excerpt

Index librorum prohibitorum: 1600-1966. Edited by J.M. De Bujanda with the assistance of Marcella Richter. [Index des livres interdits, Volume XI.] (Montréal: Centre d'Études de la Renaissance, Université de Sherbrooke, Médiaspaul; Geneva: librairie Droz. 2002. Pp. 980.)

After the publication of the ten volumes of Index of forbidden books, which record all books prohibited by secular and ecclesiastical authorities in Catholic Europe during the sixteenth century, this eleventh volume of the series Index des livres interdits directed by J. M. De Bujanda registers the books appearing only on the Roman Index, but it embraces a much wider span of time. It lists approximately 5200 titles and 3000 authors, whose prohibition was issued between 1600 and 1966, when the Roman Index was finally abolished by Pope Paul VI. To these impressive numbers, as De Bujanda stresses in his introduction, must be added anonymous writings, titles that, though never placed on the index, were not allowed to circulate for several reasons, and that incalculable amount of books falling under the prohibitions of the general rules, which concerned inter alia vernacular translations of the Bible, lascivious and obscene texts, controversial religious literature, astrological writings, etc. De Bujanda, however, points out that a few authors and titles were withdrawn from the 1900 index following the reform of Roman censorship decreed by Leo XIII. Interestingly enough, this revision was the consequence of the harsh criticisms by F. H. Reusch, whose Der Index der verbotenen Bûcher was examined in 1885 by the Congregation of the Index in view of its condemnation. Far from being prohibited, Reusch's book prompted the censors to put order in the contradictory and messy contents of Roman catalogues (see Hubert Wolf, Storia dell'Indice. Il Vaticano e i libri proibiti [Rome: Donzelli, 2006], pp. 199-214). Notwithstanding the inevitably concise biographical data on the authors and bibliographical data on the writings, as compared to the previous volumes, De Bujanda provides the reader with the indispensable elements of a given author or a given work, thus offering an invaluable and hitherto lacking tool to scholars of censorship and to specialists of various disciplines. The major interest of this new volume, with respect to the sixteenth-century catalogues, lies in its chronology, for it encompasses more than 350 years of activity of the three curial institutions involved in censorship-the Inquisition, the Congregation of the Index, and the Master of the Sacred Palace. …