Richard Carew, The Examination of Men's Wits

Edited by Rocío G. Sumillera

Tudor and Stuart Translations 17

Modern Humanities Research Association

1 August 2014  •  386pp

ISBN: 978-1-907322-81-5 (hardback)  •  RRP £44.99, $61.99, €53.99

ISBN: 978-1-781881-61-3 (paperback)  •  RRP £24.99, $34.99, €29.99


Juan Huarte de San Juan (1529-1588) was a Spanish physician and natural philosopher who strove to answer why men possess specific natural abilities that prepare them to excel only in particular fields of knowledge. With his treatise (Baeza, 1575), dedicated to King Philip II, Huarte hoped to form a body of naturally accomplished professionals by providing readers with clues to identify their leading wit and the career path associated with it. The book experienced such overwhelming success in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—it underwent fifty-five editions in six different languages—that it is now considered one of the most influential Spanish scientific books of the early modern period.

The present edition modernizes the text of Richard Carew’s The Examination of Men’s Wits (London, 1594), the first rendering into English of Huarte’s work—via a previous Italian translation. In addition, the Introduction contextualizes both the Spanish and the English texts and their authors, discusses the censorship imposed by the Inquisition, the (often deliberate) textual divergences of the English translation, the multiple translations and editions the book underwent in early modern Europe, and its domestic and European reception, with a focus on the English scientific, educational and literary arenas. William Camden, John Marston, Ben Jonson and Sir Francis Bacon are some of the household names acquainted with Huarte’s theories, thanks to Richard Carew’s widely read English version.

Rocío G. Sumillera is assistant professor of English Literature at the University of Valencia.


  • ‘This MHRA edition, modernized for accessibility, offers an excellent point of entry to both early modern Spanish literature and renaissance translation.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 51, 2015, 231
  • ‘Sumillera’s edition is an important contribution to sixteenth-century studies.’ — Andrew Breeze, Modern Language Review 112.1, January 2017, 223-24 (full text online)
  • ‘Rocio G. Sumillera has produced an erudite yet accessible edition of Richard Carew's The Examination of Men's Wits (London, 1594), the first English translation of Juan Huarte de San Juan's El examen de ingenios para las ciencias (Baeza, 1575), a vital and influential, yet too often overlooked, humanist treatise... It is much to the credit of the Modern Humanities Research Association's Tudor and Stuart Translations series that they have made this vernacular English edition available and that they have done so in both hardback and the less expensive paperback.’ — Maura Giles-Watson and Yasmine Hachimi, Sixteenth Century Journal 48.1, 2017, 241-42
  • ‘The volume nicely achieves the MHRA Tudor & Stuart Translations series's goal to highlight important works that were widely known to early moderns but have become inaccessinle due to the vicissitudes of time. Thus volume provides access to a colorful and influential early modern account of human wits. Showing how widely natural philosophical texts circulated, it also gives insight into how they changed in the process of crossing confessional boundaries. It would be an ideal way to introduce students to the text and to this early modern milieu.’ — Tricia M. Ross, Early Science and Medicine 21.6, 2016, 588-589

Bibliography entry:

Sumillera, Rocío G. (ed.), Richard Carew, The Examination of Men's Wits, Tudor and Stuart Translations, 17 (Cambridge: MHRA, 2014)

First footnote reference: 35 Richard Carew, The Examination of Men's Wits, ed. by Rocío G. Sumillera, Tudor and Stuart Translations, 17 (Cambridge: MHRA, 2014), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Sumillera, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Sumillera, Rocío G. (ed.). 2014. Richard Carew, The Examination of Men's Wits, Tudor and Stuart Translations, 17 (Cambridge: MHRA)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Sumillera 2014: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Sumillera 2014: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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