Eilenburg: Nikolaus Widemar, 1524.
Quarto: 19.5 x 14 cm. p. Collation: A-C4 (final blank and present)
Printed in the year of the first edition.
With a woodcut title page illustration of the shoemaker, the canon, and the canon's housekeeper. Bound in 20th c. brown morocco by Zaehnsdorf, gilt spine. Title a trifle dusty. Printed by Eilenburg's first printer, who apparently operated his shop for the Leipzig printer Wolfgang Stöckel. Provenance: Broxbourne Library with bookplate of Albert Ehrman (1890-1969).
Early in 1524 Hans Sachs employed the prose dialogue, recently revived by the humanists, in the service of contemporary polemics. It is generally acknowledged that his four Reformation dialogues of 1524 count among the best of the period.
In the first of these, "Disputation between a Shoemaker and a Canon", a simple cobbler brings a new pair of shoes to the home of a Church canon. The canon's Bible is dusty (that is, unread) because instead he reads the Decretals; he rattles off his prayers for the hours perfunctorily and orders the housekeeper to provide rare game birds for dinner and die for amusement afterwards.
"The layman-priest must look to his own spiritual welfare. The cobbler is a self-reliant figure, quick at repartee and remarkably well versed in the Scriptures. Sachs' cobbler is both self-assertive and scrupulously polite, in sharp contrast to the supercilious canon. At every turn the layman shows his knowledge of the Bible and its meaning to be stronger than that of the clergy-man. When the canon's own housekeeper mentions this, the canon replies 'Ich hab nur von der gemein ein auffrur besorgt, sonst wolt ich jm die pantoffel in sein Antlitz geschmeyst haben…' He'd smack the cobbler in the face with one of his shoes if he weren't afraid that it would cause the community to riot. It may well be as Ingeborg Spriewald suggests that this expressed fear of tumult among the working people induced by an affront to one of their number is a product of the tense public atmosphere in 1524 Nuremberg. However, it is at least as plausible contextually that the defeated canon is grasping for the old charge made by Murner that had occasioned Karsthans several years before: Lutheranism will stir up the uneducated lower classes. The notion of such civil warfare is deflated even as it is spoken by this thoroughly discredited figure. The expressed concern is presented as just another ploy used by a cornered adversary who can only obfuscate, not defend."(Van Cleve, Converting the Common Man: German Dialogues of the Early Reformation).
VD 16, S 222; Goed. II, 416, 10b; Weller, Sachs 17 (p. 19)