Mothering Baby: On Being a Woman in Early Modern Germany: Johannes Praetorius’s Apocalypsis Mysterorum Cybeles. Das ist Eine Schnakische Wochen-Comedie (1662)
Until he died from the plague in his hometown of Leipzig, Germany, the writer and journalist Johannes Praetorius (1630–1680) produced a prolific body of writing. No small part of his oeuvre is devoted to gender and class, to his observations about the social realities of young girls and grown women, of husband and lovers during the early modern period in Germany. In the modest tract presented here, the Apocalypsis / Mysteriorum Cybeles. / Das ist / Eine Schnakische /Wochen-Comedie (1662) [A birthing chamber comedy], Praetorius observes and satirizes a new mother’s life during her lying-in period, the six weeks after birth she had to spend in the confinement chamber visited only by female relatives and friends. Through the eyes and ears of a male listener hidden behind the chamber door, the reader witnesses the interactions of several groups of women as they come and go keeping the new mother company, gossiping and offering advice about everything from nursing to dealing with maids and husbands. The intimate and the public lives of these women unfold before us as we listen in on the conversations amused as well as instructed about seventeenth-century domesticity and family matters.