Jakob Ruf. Life, Works, and Studies

Edited by Hildegard Elisabeth Keller

Jakob Ruf (ca 1505-1558) left an extensive corpus of works in German and Latin. These works testify to his many different interests and areas of activity. Ruf worked as the city surgeon in Zurich and for a time as the city's official doctor, Zurich's town physician, involved in the training of midwives. His manual on childbirth as well as a related broadsheet were published in this context. He was also active as a surgeon and as an opthamologist. It was in this context that he published an illustrated book on the treatment of illnesses of the eye as well as a book on tumors. These books also contain numerous prescriptions that are of importance in the history of pharmaceuticals. Ruf can also be numbered among the most important authors and directors of plays in the Zurich of his time and also wrote numerous shorter texts in the context of the production of calendars for the city of Zurich. Flyer

Jakob Ruf. Leben, Werk und Studien

Erster Band: "Mit der Arbeit seiner Hände"

Zweiter Band: Jakob Ruf. Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Teil 1

Dritter Band: Jakob Ruf. Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Teil 2

Vierter Band: Jakob Ruf. Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Teil 3

Fünfter Band: "Die Anfänge der Menschwerdung"

Audio-CD im ersten Band

Multimedia-CD im fünften Band

First Volume: With the Work of his Hands

Life and Work of the Zurich City Surgeon and Playwright Jakob Ruf (1505-1558)

This volume contains Jakob Rufs biography in nine thematic chapters, the list of his works, all biographically relevant archival documents as well as a richly illustrated panorama of the town of Zurich in forty short articles. The edited biographical archival documents are available also as audio files on the CD. The table of contents provides information about the content of all five volumes.

Second Volume: Jakob Ruf. Works until 1544

Complete Critical Edition, Part I

The volume contains the introduction to the edition explaining the reconstruction of his oeuvre and the editorial principles employed, as well as the first two theatrical texts by Jakob Ruf: Etter Heini und Weingarten. Ruf reveals himself to be a critical commentator on his times and a learned playwright. The list of players and participants in the manuscript of the Weingarten gives some sense of Ruf both as a director and actor. In the 1540's the first printed texts of Ruf appear: four broadsheets, of which three are preserved. The two earliest - a Latin and a German broadside - are edited in this volume. They show Ruf as an author of texts on medicine and natural science, as well as revealing something of his political views. The volume also contains two anonymous plays, the Zürcher Hiob and the Zürcher Joseph, both of which have previously been erroneously attributed to Ruf.

Third Volume: Jakob Ruf. Works 1545-1549

Complete Critical Edition, Part II

The volume contains the scientific works from the mid-1540's: Ruf's Ärzte- und Astrologenverzeichnis, a gift made in friendship to the two doctors, Christoph Klauser and Konrad Gessner, as well as the Astrologentafel, three decorative broadsheets that could be hung on the wall. From the year 1545 come the two first illustrated editions of Ruf's plays: Wilhelm Tell and the Passion. Whereas Wilhelm Tell was performed by the youth of Zurich to celebrate New Year's, the Passion is considered to be the sole surviving Protestant Passion play from the Swiss Confederation. Ruf's first medical treatise is the Augenheilkunde, probably an illustrated manual for surgeons and doctors. The author thus counts among the pioneers of opthamology in the Confederation. The Flugblatt von der Glarner Wolkenerscheinung sheds lights on the potential for conflict in the production of broadsheets in Zurich. Two songs testify to the spectrum of texts by Ruf that engage with political and social issues.

Forth Volume: Jakob Ruf. Works 1550-1558

Complete Critical Edition, Part III

The volume contains the last play written and produced by Ruf, Adam und Eva. Ruf was presented with a prize for the performance in 1550, which lasted two days. Jakob Ruf's bestseller, the richly illustrated Trostbüchlein, appeared early in 1554. The German and Latin editions here receive a synoptic edition. Additional material pertaining to midwifery in Zurich and to the reception of the Trostbüchlein on the European book market testify to the pragmatic value and international success of the book. The surgical manual, De tumoribus or Tumorbüchlein represents the first independent treatise on tumors, their diagnosis and treatment. It seeks to combine the learning of academic medicine with the empirical knowledge of a practicing surgeon and was read with great interest by surgeons in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century. Also associated with the name, Jakob Ruf, is an important early collection of Zurich calendars and prognostications.

Fifth Volume: The Origins of the Incarnation

Perspectives on the History of Media, Medicine and Theater in the Sixteenth Century

This volume contains a textual and an iconographical section as well as a multimedia CD. The nine articles on the history of media, literature, theater, medicine and pharmaceutics document the gammut of interdisciplinary research interests connected with Ruf's works. They investigate the function of doctors, surgeons, and barbers for the literary history in the German-speaking area, Ruf as a member of Zurich's cercle of humanists, the transmission of manuscripts and prints of Ruf's plays, the functions of theater in the town of Zurich along with 66 reconstructed biographies of actors of the play Weingarten, written and staged by Ruf, historiographical aspects in Ruf's political plays, the pragmatic function of Ruf's handbook for midwives within the instruction of midwives in Zürich during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the international reception of the handbook for midwives as well as the relevance of Ruf's medical works for the history of pharmaceutics in the sixteenth century, with pharmacological glossaries.

The 285 pages iconographical section contains all woodcuts and pen-drawings in manuscripts and prints with Ruf's texts, commented upon in the introductions and commentaries of the respective editions. The relationship between text and image can be investigated further with the aid of the digital files since the iconography is documented completely also on the multimedia CD (in color).

The five volumes of the series Jakob Ruf. Leben, Werk und Studien can be searched through indexes referring to themes, concepts, and places; to historical persons as well as to researchers from secondary literature. A database conceived by Linus Hunkeler and Stefan Schöbi allowed to systematize the collected data; Linus Hunkeler als monitored the interface between man and machine, the layout of the indexes is designed by Stefan Schöbi. More information on this indispensable tool: me(at)linushunkeler.ch.

The audio CD in the first volume contains audio versions of all archival documents on Ruf's biography, furthermore three collages on Ruf's personality, his work as a surgeon and as a playwright.

The multimedia CD in the fifth volume displays the iconography in print, here in color. In addition to this it contains the woodcuts of the Latin editio princeps of the handbook for midwives. The printed and the digital documents together provide the complete source material for future research on the anatomical, obstetrical, surgical and ophthalmological iconography as well as on the iconography of theater. The CD also provides sound and picture files from the exhibition on Jakob Ruf in the Strauhof museum at Zürich (2006) as well as an interactive map of the town from 1576 from Jos Murer, one of the illustrator's of Ruf's works.

5 volumes in a box with an audio CD and a multimedia CD
3550 pages, 450 illustration in black and white
ISBN 978-3-03823-415-9
Format 16,5 x 24 cm, half linen, bound
The 5 volumes can only be purchased as a set. Price: 295 CHF
Zurich: NZZ Libro 2008