Commentary on:
Counterfeited Privilege in Grimmelshausen's 'The Magic Bird's Nest' (1675)

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Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)

Identifier: d_1675


Commentary on the Counterfeit "Privileges and Liberties" devised by Christoffel von Grimmelshausen Himself for the Second Part of his Novel The Magic Bird's Nest

Friedemann Kawohl

Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management, Bournemouth University, UK


Please cite as:
Kawohl, F. (2008) ‘Commentary on Grimmelshausen's mock privilege ()', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

1. Full title

2. Abstract

3. References


1. Full title

Counterfeited "Privileges and Liberties" Devised by Christoffel von Grimmelshausen Himself for the Second Part of his Novel The Magic Bird's Nest


2. Abstract

The counterfeited "privileges and liberties" listed by Grimmelshausen at the beginning of the second part of his novel The Magic Bird's Nest can be read as an ironic comment on the absence of proper reprinting provisions in the German lands.


Issued by the "Grand King of the Moon, this world's most vast and populous territory", it lays out in great detail what a buyer of the book was legally entitled to do with it: "read it, even twice or several times", "barter it for a box full of snuff, as long as he had indeed paid the bookseller in whose shop he had found this little work the due price for it". The owner in his turn was entitled "to give someone the book as a thank-you present, or perhaps just to lend it out without ever asking for it back." The "legitimate right to reprint [...] offer it for sale, sell it, exchange it for another book at some fair, transfer ownership of it, and, in general, to make use of it in the most profitable way" is however reserved for that reprinter who would be prepared to "explain publicly [...] why he had shown no scruples whatsoever  in acting against the law of nature" and "why  [...] he was endeavouring [...] to take away in a thievish manner the bread from his fellow man's mouth, that is, above all, the bread from the original publisher's mouth?"


Grimmelshausen had good reason to fear reprints. The first volume of The Magic Bird's Nest had been published by Johann Fillion in Montbéliard (Mömpelgard in German), a small town near Belfort which at that time belonged to the House of   Württemberg but did not form part of the Holy Roman Empire. Shortly afterwards a reprint of this volume was published in the Netherlands with a fraudulent reference to the original publisher's name "Amsterdam / Gedruckt bey Johann Fillion Im Jahr 1673").[1]


3. References 

Books and articles [in alphabetical order]

Tarot, Rolf. "Introduction" to Grimmelshausen, Das wunderbar!iche Vogelnest, ed. by Rolf Tarot (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1970)

[1] Rolf Tarot, "Introduction" to Grimmelshausen, Das wunderbar!iche Vogelnest, ed. by Rolf Tarot (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1970), xvii.


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