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Estimate: $ 1,500 - $ 2,500
(MEXICO.) Bolaños, Joaquin. La portentosa vida de la muerte, emperatriz de los sepulcros, vengadora de los agravios del altisimo,y muy señora de la humana naturaleza. 18 plates. , 276 pages. Small 4to, contemporary calf, moderate wear; finger-soiling, moderate dampstaining, wear to fore-edges with numerous short tears, leaves F3 and I4 defective with loss of text, lacking rear free endpaper and leaves F4, S2-3, and Bb2; early pencil inscriptions on rear pastedown. Mexico: Jauregui, 1792
Joaquin Bolaños was a Franciscan priest from Zacatecas. His "Astounding Life of Death" was a key moment in the development of Mexico's Day of the Dead tradition, and one of the first Mexican novels. It tells the story of Death, a woman with a tragic romantic history--a series of husbands died off on their wedding nights. The eerie engravings by Francisco Agüera Bustamante are a central part of the appeal, and the starting point of a distinctly Mexican artistic tradition perfected by José Guadalupe Posada. Today an annual Day of the Dead festival is held in Zacatecas in honor of Bolaños. "The earliest documented example of skeletal imagery in Mexico's literary culture"--Marchi, Day of the Dead, page 26. "The first calavera in written form"--López Casillas, Images of Death in Mexican Prints, pages 19-27. Medina, Mexico 8174; Palau 31711 ("libro curioso"). Only one other copy (also incomplete) traced at auction since 1955.