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82 posts categorized "France"

19 June 2017

Crying wolf: the BĂȘte du GĂ©vaudan

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In the current debate about the reintroduction of vanished species into their former habitats, apologists for the wolf often cite the species’ sophisticated social hierarchy and the benefits of predation in restoring the balance of nature in defence of a creature which, they claim, has been unjustly maligned. It is all too easy to forget that at the time when Perrault was writing fairy tales such as  ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Hop o’my Thumb’, the wolf who features so ominously in them was not merely a fanciful threat. French parish registers throughout the 17th and 18th centuries record numerous burials of those who had fallen prey to wolves, with, in many cases, only pitiful fragments left to inter.

Although these deaths were a sadly frequent occurrence which only disappeared with the gradual extermination of wolves in France throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, one outbreak attracted particular notice because of the extent and savagery of the attacks. The culprit was the notorious ‘BĂȘte du GĂ©vaudan’ which terrorized the Margeride Mountains in south-central France between 1764 and 1767. Over a century later, when Robert Louis Stevenson visited the region, he noted in his Travels with a Donkey in the CĂ©vennes (Boston, 1879; 10109.n.63) that the inhabitants still recalled the terrible events and warned him against camping out because of the danger of wolves.

Bete 12517.bbb.23

The depredations of this mysterious creature have provided material for much speculation and also for some bizarre treatments of the episode, from Élie Berthet’s historical novel La BĂȘte du GĂ©vaudan (Paris, 1869; 12517.bbb.23; cover above) to Christophe Gans’ film Brotherhood of the Wolf (2006), where its ravages are attributed to a sinister religious cult. However, they have also been more systematically examined by historians and zoologists, and particularly by Jean-Marc Moriceau, an authority on French agricultural history (La bĂȘte du GĂ©vaudan: 1764-1767, Paris, 2008; YF.2010.a.19761). Initially interested in the impact of the Beast’s activities on the rural economy, he went on to write a study of wolf attacks in France (Histoire du mĂ©chant loup: 3000 attaques sur l'homme en France (XVe-XXe siĂšcle), Paris, 2007; YF.2009.a.3501) and to edit the proceedings of a conference devoted to relations between man and wolf (Vivre avec le loup? Trois mille ans de conflit, Paris, [2014];YF.2016.a.8804).

Bete farouche X.319-4064

A contemporary account of the beast, reproduced in  Jacques Delperrié de Bayac, Du sang dans la montagne. Vrais et faux mystères de la Bête du Gévaudan. (Paris,1970). X.319/4064

Contrary to the popular images of starving wolves prowling through snow-clad landscapes, the Beast claimed its first victim, Jeanne Boulet, just short of her 14th birthday, on 30 June 1764. The parish priest of Les Hubacs, recording her burial the following day, attributed her death to  â€˜la BĂȘte fĂ©roce’, suggesting that it had achieved some notoriety. In fact it had already made at least one previous attack, foiled by the cattle which the intended victim was guarding. Moriceau notes that while flocks of sheep were generally supervised by experienced shepherds with formidable sheepdogs armed with spiked collars, the practice of sending boys and girls to accompany the cattle to pasture rendered them especially vulnerable. In most of the fatal attacks which occurred over the next three years (up to 113, according to one source), the victims were young; of 79 cases cited where the age is recorded, 63 out of 79 were under 20. The spring and summer, when the rural population was engaged in outdoor pursuits in the fields and vineyards, offered special opportunities to a predator lurking at the edge of a forest or lying low in a cornfield.

Bete Figuren du monstre X.319-4064

Another contemporary view of the ‘monster’, reproduced in Du sang dans la montagne.

As the toll increased, even grown men were afraid to venture forth unarmed, leading to appeals for the ban forbidding the peasantry to carry weapons to be lifted. Fears were heightened by reports of the creature’s unusual size, strength and appearance, leading to rumours that it was not a wolf at all but a bear or a hyena escaped from the King of Sardinia’s menagerie. As even expert hunters failed to shoot it, it was claimed that it was no ordinary animal but a werewolf, invulnerable to firearms or to poison (more bizarre suggestions include a wolf/dog hybrid or, according to Pascal Cazottes in La bĂȘte du GĂ©vaudan enfin dĂ©masquĂ©e? (La Motte d’Aigues, 2004; YF.2005.a.9199), a prehistoric Hemicyon.

This led to intervention by Louis XV himself; on hearing of the heroism of young Jacques Portefaix, who successfully defended himself and seven companions when attacked on 12 January 1765, he not only rewarded them financially but decreed that the Crown would send assistance to kill the Beast. This met with mixed success; the royal louvetiers were resented by the local residents on whom they were billeted, especially when their efforts achieved nothing. However, when on 20 September a large wolf was killed by François Antoine, the king's arquebus-bearer and Lieutenant of the Hunt, it seemed that he had exterminated the Beast, especially as several survivors recognized it by scars inflicted during attempts to beat it off. The stuffed specimen was displayed at Versailles, and Antoine fĂȘted as a hero, but by December 1765 renewed attacks confirmed that the story was not yet over.

In May/June 1767 alone eight more victims perished, including a Carmelite nun and several young cowherds. On 17 June the burial of the last, 19-year-old Jeanne Bastide, was recorded by the parish priest of BiniĂšre. The following day the young Marquis d’Apcher organized a hunt and set out with a pack of hounds and around 300 huntsmen and beaters, including 12 named marksmen, one of them a farmer called Jean Chastel. At 10.15 on the morning of 19 June the Marquis sighted his quarry followed by its mate, and gave the order to loose the hounds. Chastel fired, and the Beast of the GĂ©vaudan fell dead.

Somewhat anticlimactically, the corpse rapidly decomposed in the hot weather and could not be exhibited, and in contrast to Antoine, Chastel, on arrival at court, received only a modest reward of 72 livres. But he had earned the lasting gratitude of his neighbours for rescuing them from three years of terror, and 250 years later the surrounding area prepares to commemorate the events of June 1767 under the slogan ‘FĂȘte la BĂȘte!’ 


Susan Halstead, Content Specialist (Humanities & Social Sciences) Research Services

08 May 2017

Seminar on Textual Bibliography for Modern Foreign Languages 2017

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The annual Seminar on Textual Bibliography for Modern Foreign Languages will take place at the British Library on Monday 5 June in the Eliot Room of the Library’s Conference Centre, with the usual varied range of speakers and topics. The programme is as follows.

11.00     Registration and Coffee

11.30     David Shaw (Canterbury): The impact of the Aldine octavos on sixteenth-century paper for printing the classics.

12.15     Lunch (Own arrangements).

1.30     Pardaad Chamsaz (London): A murky business: the composition of HonorĂ© de Balzac’s Une TĂ©nĂ©breuse Affaire.

2.15     Rhiannon Daniels (Bristol): Where does the Decameron begin? The editorial ‘problem’ of the paratext and the question of rubrics.

3.00     Tea

3.30     W. A. Kelly (Strathclyde): The Book trade in Moravia.

4.30     Barry Taylor (London): Allegorical title pages.

The Seminar will end at 5.15 pm.

The seminar is open to all and attendance is free, but please let Barry Taylor (barry.taylor@bl.uk) or Susan Reed (susan.reed@bl.uk) know if you would like to attend.

Narrenschiff 1499 Unnutzen BĂŒcher

25 April 2017

French Medieval Tales in the 19th Century

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A two-volume copy of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, a collection of tales delivered by different historical characters, has recently been acquired for the British Library French collections. 

Robida Fig 1
Cover of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles illustrated by Albert Robida, (Paris, 1888) RB.23.a.37261

This collection of 100 entertaining and often licentious short stories was written at the court of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, who was presented with a now-lost manuscript copy of the text in the 1460s. The main surviving manuscript copy of the work is in Glasgow University Library, (Hunter, 252 (U. 4. 10)), also produced in the 1460s at the court of Burgundy. The collection is anonymous, though it was (wrongly) attributed to Antoine de la Salle, author of the late medieval chivalric novel Jean de Saintré, by Antoine Vérard, who published the first (illustrated) edition of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles in 1486. The text was reprinted by Vérard in 1498-99, and led to new editions throughout the 16th century.

Robida Fig 2
Antoine VĂ©rard’s 1499 Paris edition of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, IB.41194

In the first half of the 20th century, the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles have been attributed by their editor Pierre Champion to ‘Mgr de la Roche’, Philippe Pot, Chamberlain to the Duke of Burgundy, who is responsible for the highest number of short stories in the compilation (15 in total). The text, which bears the influence of the medieval genre of the fabliau, is modelled on Boccaccio’s highly influential Decameron, which was disseminated in French through its translation by Laurent de Premierfait in the 1410s, published by VĂ©rard in 1485, and reprinted c. 1499-1503.

The newly acquired copy of Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles is a merger of two items: 50 leaves of colour illustrations by LĂ©on LebĂšgue, dating from 1900, have been inserted into the 1888 first edition of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles originally illustrated with over 300 black and white engravings by Albert Robida.

Robida Fig 3
Illustrations in Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, by. A. Robida (left) and L. LebĂšgue (right)

Robida was a well-known caricaturist. He wrote and illustrated a science fiction trilogy imagining life in the 20th century, featuring modern warfare and scientific inventions (Le VingtiĂšme SiĂšcle, La Guerre au vingtiĂšme siĂšcle, Le VingtiĂšme SiĂšcle: La vie Ă©lectrique, 1883-1890).

Robida Fig 4
Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles
, ill. A. Robida, 1888

Robida had a particular interest in the Middle Ages and contributed to several works relating to the period. He engaged in illustrated youth fiction, authoring Le roi des jongleurs (1896) and Les AssiĂ©gĂ©s de Compiègne, 1430 set around the story of Joan of Arc, and illustrating Georges TrĂ©misot’s Le bon roi Dagobert  (1918).  He also illustrated the collection Contes et Fabliaux du Moyen Age (1908), as well as the works of the 15th century poet François Villon (1897;  12237.k.5.). In Les escholiers du temps jadis (1907), Robida tells the story of students in Parisian and provincial universities from the Middle Ages to his own time.

Robida Fig 5
Cover of A. Robida, Les AssiĂ©gĂ©s de Compiègne, 1430 (Paris, 1906) 12518.p.1.

Robida illustrated the very successful play by FrĂ©dĂ©ric Gaillardet and Alexandre Dumas, La Tour de Nesle, first performed in 1832, which tells the scandalous story of the daughters-in-law of Philip IV of France (the plot reappears in Maurice Druon’s 1955 bestseller Les Rois Maudits, 011306.gg.15.). The British Library holds a copy of the play, printed for the SociĂ©tĂ© des Amis des Livres, donated and signed by its president, Henri Beraldi.

Robida Fig 6
F. Gaillardet / A. Dumas, La Tour de Nesle (Paris, 1901) 11739.g.106.

Robida also produced several series of books encompassing the history and architecture of old European cities (Les Vieilles Villes 1878-1880, 10129.ee.1.) and regions of France (La Vieille France) as well as of Paris, about which he was particularly prolific. He was the instigator of the monumental and hugely successful ‘Vieux Paris’ reconstituted historical quarter at the International Exhibition of 1900.

Robida fig 7
Cover of A. Robida, La Vieille France: La Bretagne (Paris, 1890-1893) 2362.dd.1.

Our copy of the LebĂšgue plates for the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, issued by Charles Carrington, is number 104 of an edition of 120 copies. A folded advertisement for this edition is bound at the end of the second volume, along with its preface by Jules de Marthold.

Robida Fig 8
Advertisement for Lebùgue’s 50 illustrations of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles

The pages of the LebĂšgue volume fit within four red lines which delimitate a central space, a feature which is strongly reminiscent of the rulings on the folios of medieval manuscripts.

Robida Fig 9
Cover of Lebùgue’s illustrations of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles

This concerted medievalism, which agrees with the content and setting of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles is immediately apparent on the book cover, with a Gothicising script printed in red ink, framed by two tournament spears and a scroll at the bottom. At the centre of the page are depicted a lady with a distinctive headdress and a knight in armour jointly reading a book in between two rose windows. On top of the illustration, the title is printed in a vegetal frame and ornamented by two lilies, and under the image feature the names of the artist, the writer of the preface and the printer, as well as the date of publication. Despite the anonymity of the author of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, the front cover designed by LebĂšgue contains a wealth of information, which contrasts with the paucity of bibliographic information provided in medieval manuscripts.

IrĂšne Fabry-Tehranchi, Curator Romance Collections.

References:

Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, ed. Pierre Champion (Paris, 1928) W.P.8406/5.

Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, ed. Franklin P. Sweetser (Geneva, 1966) W.P.2063/127.

Philippe Brun, Albert Robida, 1848-1926: sa vie, son Ɠuvre: suivi d'une bibliographie complĂšte de ses Ă©crits et dessins (Paris, 1984) YV.1986.a.430.

Daniel CompĂšre (dir.), Albert Robida du passĂ© au futur : un auteur-illustrateur sous la IIIe RĂ©publique (Amiens, 2006) Awaiting shelfmark.

Albert Robida et son blog
 http://albert-robida.blogspot.co.uk

27 March 2017

Hommage to the French Resistance: two recently donated books

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Dr Catherine Delano-Smith, former reader in historical geography at the University of Nottingham, and now Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research in the School of Advanced Studies at the University of London, donated two books to the British Library in spring 2015 relating to the French Resistance and its fighters in the Second World War.

The books originally came from the library of AndrĂ© Canivez (1909-1981), professor of philosophy at the University of Strasbourg. AndrĂ© Canivez was related to Dr Delano-Smith by marriage, as her mother’s niece was his second wife, Mouza Raskolnikov. Her first husband was Fedor Raskolnikov (1892-1939), a Bolshevik and eminent Russian politician who went into exile to France in 1938 and died the following year in unclear circumstances. Mouza had spent the rest of the Second World War hiding in the Massif Central at Treignac. She married Canivez at the end of the hostilities and moved to Strasbourg with him. André Canivez had been a prisoner of war and taken to a camp when France capitulated; he survived his POW camp experiences but was left in very poor health.

Dr Delano-Smith and her mother visited the couple and, after her mother’s death in 1978, Catherine returned to Strasbourg regularly to visit Mouza, who was by then suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. After Mouza’s death, Catherine inherited part of AndrĂ© Canivez’s library and decided to donate the above books. She supplemented them with a photograph of an unnamed French Resistance fighter (without a blindfold) taken just before his execution. She feels that this picture was of significant importance to AndrĂ© Canivez as it used to hang in his study. This picture has always been a mystery and despite extensive research it has never been possible to identify the man.

French Resistance Temoins half-title
Half-title page of  Les TĂ©moins qui se firent Egorger ([s.l.], 1946)  RF.2015.b.32

The first donation, entitled Les TĂ©moins qui se firent Egorger, is an account of conditions in the concentration camps in Germany and Poland, and also of life in the French Resistance. It is a touching tribute to all those who died in horrific circumstances. The book is enriched with many photographs, none too horrific to look at but sufficient to bring home the terrible conditions these men and women endured. As well as many anonymous pictures there are also tributes to specific Resistance fighters who fought for their country. In addition to the current edition, 500 copies were printed for the families of the deceased. The A4 size photograph has been inserted in the British Library copy at the request of Dr Delano-Smith.

French Resistance Temoins women
Portraits of women from the Resistance who died in the RavensbrĂŒck concentration camp, from Les TĂ©moins qui se firent Egorger

The second donation, Geoles Allemandes (Loos 1942-1943) (Avesnes-sur-Help, 1945) is a fictionalised account by Dr Denis Cordonnier, who was detained in the prison of Loos in northern France for a year and released before the end of the war. Whilst in prison he had promised his fellow Resistance prisoners that if he was released he would write a novel testifying to their sufferings but also celebrating the bravery and patriotism of these men who had been ready to give their lives for their country. Geoles Allemandes (Loos 1942-1943) is the fruit of this promise. Names were changed, but events and characters closely reflected reality. The story is narrated by a Dr Duval who through his practitioner’s experience, his commitment to the Resistance, and his shrewd analysis of the human mind, is the perfect person to depict the effect of incarceration on the prisoners at Loos. Without lapsing into pathos, it is a very sensitive and realistic account.

 French Resistance geoles allemandes1   French Resistance geoles allemandes (Canivez)
Cover and title-page (inscribed to André Canivez), from, Geoles Allemandes (Loos 1942-1943) (Avesnes-sur-Help, 1945)

These two donations were very timely, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and are a valuable addition to the British Library’s French literature of the war. These two volumes are not only a poignant testimony to the horrors of the Second World War, but also a celebration of the Maquisards and a reminder of how much France owes to the French Resistance.

Annick Mann, Quality Assurance, Content and Metadata Processing

06 March 2017

French entertainment in the Evanion collection: from Robert-Houdin to La Foire du TrĂŽne

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The current British Library exhibition ‘Victorian Entertainement: There Will Be Fun’  starts with a poster advertising the day performances and ‘SoirĂ©es Fantastiques’ of French magician Robert-Houdin, ‘The Father of Modern Magic’. After the Revolution of February 1848, which deposed the French King Louis Philippe, Robert-Houdin went to London where he performed at the St James’s Theatre in the summer of 1848.

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       Poster for Robert Houdin, ‘SoirĂ©es Fantastiques’, St. James's Theatre, Piccadilly. 1848 (Evanion 528)

The third part of the show involved a Levitation Illusion, called ‘Escamotage de Robert-Houding Fils, Suspension Etherenne’, which is illustrated at the bottom of the poster. The trick is still used nowadays by street performers throughout the world. In this performance, starring his own son, Robert-Houdin associated the trick with the use of ether, claiming that he had discovered a new marvellous property of the substance: its inhalation would make the boy’s body as light as a balloon, allowing him to float in the air with only a stick as a support.

Robert-Houdin was an inspiration for Evanion, the London conjuror and ventriloquist who started performing in 1849 and whose collection of ephemera related to Victorian entertainment, magic and performance is currently on display in the exhibition.

Among the French items in the collection  several posters advertise performances held at the Foire du TrĂŽne in Paris in the 1880s. They show the diversity of the attractions held at this fair, dating back to the Middle Ages, which still takes place every year around Easter. The fair used to be held by the Abbey of Saint-Antoine and was called ‘Foire au Pain d’Epice’ because of the gingerbread made by the monks for the occasion.

The Fair owes its name to its location, a square in the East of Paris which used to be called ‘Place du TrĂŽne’ after the throne erected there as part of the celebrations for the wedding of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain in 1660 (depicted in L’entrĂ©e triomphante de leurs majestez ... dans la ville de Paris... (Paris, 1660) British Library 37/604.i.22.). During the French Revolution, it became the square of the Toppled Throne, ‘Place du TrĂŽne renversé’, where a guillotine was set up, and it was later renamed Place de la Nation.

2foire pain epice jal ill  1893
“Le lundi de PĂąques Ă  la foire aux Pains d’Epices”, Le Journal IllustrĂ©, 16 April 1893 (BibliothĂšque nationale de France)

In an engraving printed in Le Journal Illustré of 16 April 1893, crowds of adults and children wander through the fair and its tents; open air activities include, from left to right, the selling and throwing of confetti, snack selling, giant effigies, musicians, a game of balls, an air balloons themed Ferris wheel, and the Hammer game.

3trone 1881b

Examples of Foire du TrĂŽne attractions featuring in the posters collected by Evanion include races accompanied by military bands and riding lessons for the general public at the Hippodrome (1881, Evanion 593, pictured above).

4trone 1881a

Poster for Rothomago.  Foire du TrĂŽne, 1881. Evanion 1257

It also included performances of Rothomago, a fairy spectacle in 3 acts and 16 tableaux (including the Enchanted Twig, the House of the Devil, the Speaking Talisman, and the Genius of the World, finishing with an Apotheosis illuminated with electric light ‘even during daytime’), with painted backgrounds, cardboard sets and exotic costumes. The exuberance of this dramatic love comedy exudes from the illustration at the centre of the poster, peopled with characters of different dress and status, from the majestic fairy standing at the top of a jungle temple, to the lovers at the centre of the scene.

5foire 1881

Poster for the wax museum, “Grand musĂ©e français de sujets en cire”, Champ de Foire, Paris, 1881. Evanion 594

The ‘Champ de Foire’ was a space for the display of curious, instructive, entertaining or terrifying exhibits, like the Great French Museum of Wax Characters, focused on contemporary military and religious figures. It included life-size effigies of the sovereigns of Europe, and the tribal chiefs of Zululand, with an action scene showing the recent dramatic death, in 1879, of the young prince Napoleon (son of the emperor Napoleon III), who had joined the British troops in the Anglo-Zulu War. The show also displayed models of the most famous contemporary criminals. The author presents himself in the tract as an accredited and serious ‘artist’, who uses historical accessories (costumes and arms are ‘300 to 400 years old’) and distances himself from fairground entertainers and charlatans: his ‘gallerie’ is not designed to entertain the idle, as one needs to be ‘vraiment intelligent’ to appreciate its riches, though three ‘explicateurs’ will guide visitors.

6trone 1887
Poster for the glass-weaver, “La fileuse de verre”, Foire du Trîne, Paris, 1887. Evanion 1271

The fair featured the Glass Weaver, a ‘famous artist’ who would make her ‘chefs-d’oeuvre’ in front of the public, producing a variety of objects such as carafes, test tubes, crystal flowers, and wonderfully long threads of glass (1887). The illustration shows how craft making becomes a performance: rays of light emanate from her head and she works at a table, behind a glass screen, surrounded by clouds of smoke and flanked by two monumental lions.

The Foire du Trîne hosted a variety of shows and performances, from the technologically sophisticated, like cinematographic projections, which started in the 1890s, exalting the wonders of modern science, to the more modest, like the Living statues act, with street artists dressed and made up to impress the crowds (see the backstage preparation of ‘Golden men’ in 1893).

7IMG_9236
La baraque de la Goulue, Ă  la Foire du TrĂŽne; reproduced in Lautrec par Lautrec., ed. Philippe Huisman and M. G. Dortu (Paris, 1964). L.R.409.p.5.

The fair held many stands and entertainments tents. In 1895, Toulouse-Lautrec painted two panels for the oriental booth of La Goulue (‘the Glutton’), Louise Weber, a cancan dancer who had gained fame and wealth by performing at the new Moulin Rouge cabaret which opened in Montmartre in 1889. In the left panel La Goulue, dances at the Moulin Rouge with her partner, the tall and gaunt Valentin the DĂ©sossĂ© (‘the Boneless’); in the right panel she performs a ‘danse mauresque’, belly-dancing accompanied on the piano, next to two characters in oriental costumes. Unfortunately, her show at the fair was a failure and eventually closed down.

Throughout the 20th century, the Foire du Trîne remained a major venue for popular entertainment: its atmosphere was captured in the 1920s and 1930s by news agencies like ‘Agence Rol’, ‘Meurisse’ or ‘Mondial Photo-Presse’ and in the 1950s and 1960s by famous photographers like Doisneau, Izis, or Depardon.

9 27-4-22_couronnement_de_la_Reine_[...]Agence_Rol

Above: Coronation of the Queen of the Foire au Pain d’épice, 27 avril 1922 , Agence Rol (BibliothĂšque nationale de France); below, Crowds at the fair, April 1924 
(BibliothĂšque nationale de France

10 19-4-24_foire_au_pain_d'Ă©pices_[...]Agence_Rol

On the BibliothĂšque de France Gallica Website you can listen to recordings of songs and music of the Foire du TrĂŽne, like Jean Nivel’s ‘Pots-pourris de marches, valses, tangos, boleros, javas, polkas, slow, fox’, from 1955, or Jean BĂ©rard playing his barrel organ in the 1960s.

IrĂšne Fabry-Tehranchi, Curator, Romance collections.

References:

Parade: la Foire du TrÎne, 1936-1947, photographies, Marcel Bouvet; présentées par Gérard Gagnepain (Pont l'Abbé, 2006).

Le cirque d'Izis: avec quatre compositions originales de Marc Chagall. Préface de Jacques Prévert (Monte-Carlo, 1965). LB.31.c.1694

Rosolen, AgnĂšs, De la foire au pain d'Ă©pice Ă  la foire du TrĂŽne (Charenton-le-Pont, 1985) Awaiting shelfmark



 

27 February 2017

An irony-free zone: early French translations of Jane Austen

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The British Library holds a world-class collection of Jane Austen material. The Library’s manuscript materials include, for instance, a collection of comments about Mansfield Park by family, friends and acquaintances compiled by Austen soon after publication. The Library possesses at least one copy of each of the first English printed editions of her work, and also holds the first full French translations of Sense and Sensibility (1815), Mansfield Park (1816), Pride and Prejudice (1822), and Northanger Abbey (1824), as well as the first translation into German of Persuasion (1822).

Both Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park were first translated into French in a much abridged form in four instalments in the Swiss periodical BibliothĂšque britannique (1813, 1815). (Unfortunately, the Library’s copy of this periodical, which disseminated British culture in continental Europe during the Napoleonic wars, was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War.) By 1824, all of six of Austen’s major novels were available in French.

There are no known French reviews of these early translations, but the translators’ prefaces to the novels, the way in which they were translated and the changes that were made to the text can provide a great deal of information about the tastes and expectations of her readership and the reception of her novels in France and Switzerland in the early 19th century.

Raison et Sensibilité tp
Title-page of Raison et SensibilitĂ© ou les Deux ManiĂšres d’aimer ‘traduit librement de l’anglais’ (Paris, 1815) British Library RB.23.a.30556

In 1815, Isabelle de Montolieu, a well-known and successful Swiss novelist, published her ‘free translation’ of Sense and Sensibility as Raison et SensibilitĂ© ou les Deux ManiĂšres d’aimerThe Library’s copy includes the translator’s preface: Montolieu expresses her preference for this ‘new genre’ of English novel which has superseded that of ‘terreur’ and is confident that her French readers will enjoy a bit of ‘light literature’, ‘devoid of any political allusions’ after the troubled times they have lived through. 

Raison et Sensibilité preface
The opening of Montolieu’s preface to Raison et SensibilitĂ©

She presents her translation as ‘reasonably faithful until the end, where I have allowed myself, as is my custom, a few slight changes which I have deemed necessary’. She changes some forenames: Elinor Dashwood remains Elinor, but her sisters Marianne and Margaret become Maria and Emma. She alters and moralises the ending: Marianne rejects the reprobate Willoughby, now a widower, and he, seeing the error of his ways, marries Caroline (Eliza in the original) whom he had earlier seduced and abandoned. Madame Smith, who has taken in Caroline, is ‘delighted to save a soul from eternal damnation’. Montolieu, catering for a readership still in thrall to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Nouvelle HĂ©loĂŻse, produced a didactic and sentimental version of Austen’s novel. At this time, too, her fame far eclipsed Austen’s and so it’s no surprise that the publisher reissued this translation in 1828, with added illustrations, in an edition of Montolieu’s works .

Parc de Mansfeld
Title-page of Le Parc de Mansfield ou les Trois Cousines (Paris, 1816) C.194.a.1345.

The title page of Le Parc de Mansfield ou les Trois Cousines, states that the novel is ‘par l’auteur de Raison et SensibilitĂ©, ou Les deux maniĂšres d’aimer’, thus trading implicitly on the cachet of Montolieu. The translator, bashfully named as M. Henri V ******N., was Henri Villemain or Vilmain, a prolific translator and also a novelist in his own right.

Orgueil et Prévention
Title-page of Orgueil et Prévention (Paris, 1822) C.194.a.1254.

The Library holds one of the two early French translations of Pride and Prejudice, Orgueil et PrĂ©vention, also described as ‘par l’auteur de Raison et Sensibilité’, translated by ‘Mlle É

.***.’ This translator has been identified as EloĂŻse Perks, who, in her short preface, presents herself as a ‘jeune Ă©trangĂšre’ (young foreigner), and a novice writer imitating the ‘elegant pen’ and the ‘ good model’ of Montolieu, and adds that the translation of Raison et SensibilitĂ© ‘eut en France le plus grand succĂšs’. Perks also adds a few brief explanatory notes on English customs, food and place names, e.g. on mince pies (I, p.82) or the English Sunday (I, p. 94), and says that she intends to translate the as yet untranslated novels: this didn’t happen, so either her version wasn’t a success, or she was pipped at the post by other translators.

Abbaye de Northanger tp and frontispiece2
Title-page and frontispiece of L’Abbaye de Northanger (Paris, 1824) 12808.u.39.

The last novel to be translated was the posthumous Northanger Abbey, translated as L’Abbaye de Northanger by Mme Hyacinthe de F****, i.e. Hyacinthe de FerriĂšres, who was also a novelist. The author’s name is given on the title page, but Frenchified as Jeanne Austen. Henry Austen’s ‘Biographical Notice’ is included, though without the Postscript, and with some omissions and curious errors: notably, John for (Samuel) Johnson, Arbley for Arblay (Fanny Burney), and, significantly, the translator omits the sentence ending: ‘she partook largely in all the best gifts of the comic muse’. Despite this, it must be admitted that Henry’s notice on his deceased sister does emphasise her piety and decorum.

The British Library’s copy includes the engraved frontispiece illustrating and telescoping the episode where the heroine first sees the large chest in her room and then tries to open it when she is interrupted (the figure at the door). Our copy, in three volumes, bears the stamp of the ‘cabinet de lecture’ (circulating library) of G. Dufour et Cie in Amsterdam. It has a British Museum stamp dated 16 September 1876, and is housed in modern box with the label ‘Conserved under the Adopt a Book  Appeal [by] The Jane Austen Society of North America’. The other early translations into French and German that the Library holds were, by contrast, all acquired relatively recently.

Cumulatively, these translations enable us to study how Jane Austen was interpreted in early French culture and how they convey the spirit of the original text. This early French Jane Austen is a somewhat formulaic novelist of sensibility devoid of her trademark sense of irony and social satire.

Teresa Vernon, Lead Curator, Romance Collections.

References/Further Reading

The Reception of Jane Austen in Europe, edited by Brian Southam and A.A. Mandel (London, 2014). YC.2016.a.4133

Lucile Trunel, Les Ă©ditions françaises de Jane Austen 1815-2007. L’apport de l’histoire Ă©ditoriale Ă  la comprĂ©hension de la rĂ©ception de l’auteur en France (Paris, 2010). YF.2014.a.5858

Valérie Cossy, Jane Austen in Switzerland: a study of the early French translations (Geneva, 2006). YD.2006.a.4670

 

19 January 2017

The art of ruining a friendship: Zola, CĂ©zanne and L’ƒuvre

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Once again Christmas is over, and many of us will have been fortunate enough to receive a book among our presents. Some may be a delight, others a disappointment, as in the case of the gift which Stephen Leacock’s young Hoodoo McFiggin found in his Christmas stocking:

‘It’s a book,’ he said, as he unwrapped it. ‘I wonder if it is fairy stories or adventures. Oh, I hope it’s adventures! I’ll read it all morning.' No, Hoodoo, it was not precisely adventures. It was a small family Bible. [
] After that he took his book and read some adventures called ‘Genesis’ till breakfast-time. (Literary Lapses: Montreal, 1910; British Library 012331.e.44)

Unlike Hoodoo, most of us have the option of returning and exchanging a book which might not have been quite what we had hoped for. Although this may require tact, it is rare for an unwelcome gift to produce such drastic consequences as the one which Paul CĂ©zanne received from his friend Émile Zola in 1886.

As part of his Rougon-Macquart cycle, a series of twenty novels chronicling the ‘natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire’, Zola had begun work earlier that year on a story entitled L’ƒuvre (translated into English as His Masterpiece: London, 1902; 1094.k.8). Although he was initially inspired by Balzac’s cycle La ComĂ©die humaine, Zola planned not merely to depict contemporary society but the workings of environment and heredity among the many members of a single family.

Zola Oeuvre 12517.e.33
Émile Zola, L’ƒuvre (Paris, 1886) 12517.e.33.

In earlier books Zola had portrayed life in Paris and the provinces and the fortunes of market traders, miners, prostitutes, absinthe addicts and the staff of a department store. Here, though, he turned his attention to the world of art, with which he was well acquainted through his friendship with CĂ©zanne. The two had known each other since their boyhood in Aix-en-Provence, the model for Zola’s Plassans, home to AdĂ©laĂŻde Fouque, founder of the three branches of the Rougon-Macquart dynasty and great-grandmother of Claude Lantier, the protagonist of L’ƒuvre.

Zola CĂ©zanne letter
An illustrated letter from CĂ©zanne to Zola written in 1866. Reproduced in John Rewald, CĂ©zanne: sa vie - son Ɠuvre - son amitiĂ© pour Zola (Paris, 1939) 010655.i.24.

Unlike other members of the Macquart family who become labourers, soldiers or farmers, Claude Lantier shows artistic talent and settles in Paris to pursue his career as a painter. He has less in common with his murderous engine-driver brother Jacques (La BĂȘte humaine) and half-sister, the notorious prostitute Nana, than with his second brother, the activist miner Étienne (Germinal); however, Claude’s revolutionary spirit manifests itself not in the struggle against corrupt industrialists but against another kind of conservatism – the stifling influence of academicism on art.

Zola suggested titles 1
A list of titles which Zola considered for L’ƒuvre. Reproduced in Émile Zola and the Arts, ed. Jean-Max Guieu and Alison Hilton (Washington D.C, 1988)

We are given a glimpse of Claude’s revolt against convention when, in the novel’s opening pages, he takes in a young woman, Christine Hallegrain, stranded late at night in Paris on her way to a post in Passy:

What especially frightened her were some sketches in oils that hung frameless from the walls, a serried array of sketches reaching to the floor [
] She had never seen such terrible painting, so coarse, so glaring, showing a violence of colour that jarred upon her nerves like a carter’s oath heard on the doorstep of an inn.

Clearly this is something very different from the staid historical, mythological and Biblical subjects favoured by the establishment, and it is not surprising that Claude’s work fails to find acceptance into the annual Salon of the AcadĂ©mie des Beaux-Arts. When a group of rejected artists sets up a Salon des RefusĂ©s to display their paintings, his Plein Air creates a sensation, recalling Manet’s DĂ©jeuner sur l’herbe in its juxtaposition of clothed male and nude female figures, the latter modelled on Christine, who becomes his mistress, the mother of his son Jacques, and finally his wife. They move to the country in an attempt to draw inspiration from the rural surroundings, but this proves a failure, and at Christine’s instigation he returns to Paris. After repeated rejections he embarks on a gigantic painting of the Île de la CitĂ© which becomes an obsession as he constantly revises and repaints it even as his neglected young son lies dying. It is not this painting but a study of the dead boy, ‘a masterpiece of limpidity and power to which was added a note of boundless melancholy’, which is accepted for the Salon, though arousing such controversy that Claude is driven back to his ‘masterpiece’, the huge landscape which is never completed and ultimately costs him his marriage, his friendships and his life as he hangs himself in his studio.

Zola Ouevre KTC.35.b.5.
Cartoon of Zola, representing L’ƒuvre, from: H. Lebourgeois, L'ƒuvre de Zola : 16 simili aquarelles (Paris, 1898) KTC.35.b.5.

The one friend who attends his funeral is Pierre Sandoz, a novelist who, like Zola, is engaged on a cycle of Naturalist novels charting the fortunes of an extended family. Zola himself had written many articles on painting as a young journalist and had promoted the work of Manet in particular, and when CĂ©zanne received his copy of L’ƒuvre it was not difficult for him to interpret Sandoz as a self-portrait of the author and Lantier as a study of CĂ©zanne himself. Another Claude, Monet, felt impelled to write an open letter shortly after the novel’s publication declaring that he did not recognize himself or any of his fellow Impressionists in it. However, the damage was done; with impeccable politeness CĂ©zanne penned a thank-you letter to Zola, parcelled up the book, returned it to the author, and broke off all contact with him.

As she sits for the nude in the ill-fated ‘masterpiece’, Christine reflects bitterly on Claude’s first painting of her which had been the source of all her misfortunes: ‘It had come to life again, it rose from the dead, endowed with greater vitality than herself, to finish killing her
’ It may not be fanciful to see here a foreshadowing of another ominous portrait in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, which appeared four years later (London, 1890; Eccles 395). Sadly, in human terms L’ƒuvre possessed a far greater destructive power than Zola had ever imagined.

Susan Halstead,Content Specialist (Humanities & Social Sciences) Research Services

09 December 2016

Vincent Cabot, a 16th-century Jurist from Toulouse

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Vincent Cabot (c. 1560-1620) was a jurist from Toulouse who became a professor of canon and civil law at Orléans University before going back to Toulouse where he became President of the Parliament.

1 Cabot Tumulus tp
Title page of Vincent Cabot Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolÊi... tumulus (Orléans, 1592) British Library 1230.c.32
.

The British Library holds two of his works, including his contribution to a collection of epitaphs in memory of Michel Viole, a Bible scholar who died in 1591 and was for thirty years abbot of Saint-Euverte of OrlĂ©ans. The printed work, entitled Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolĂŠi... tumulus, published by Saturnin and Fabien Hotot in OrlĂ©ans in 1592, records eulogies read during the abbot’s four days funeral, led by Jean de l’Aubespine, Bishop of the city.

2 Cabot Tumulus 2
Hebrew inscription, and opening of Cabot’s funeral oration for Michel Viole, from Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis Violéi... tumulus.

Vincent Cabot’s Latin funeral oration, written in prose, is the first text of the compilation, and displays the author’s learning in honour of the deceased. The mise en page of the eulogy, with marginal references in italic, highlights Cabot’s learned references to Latin and Greek authors as well as the Scriptures.

3 Cabot Tumulus sonnets
Sonnets from Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolĂŠi... tumulus

The whole collection of epitaphs is skilfully printed with different typescripts and ornamental woodcuts, and makes a creative use of italics and capitals, which highlight the wealth and variety of the contributions. A hundred scholars from OrlĂ©ans have contributed pieces in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, French, Gascon, Flemish and Italian. The volume includes two well-designed fold-out pages displaying a tomb inscribed with epitaphs.

4 Cabot Tumulus fold-out
One of the fold-out pages from Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolĂŠi... tumulus

Vincent Cabot’s Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum was printed in two distinct editions in Paris (by Claude de Monstr’oeil and Jean RichĂ©) and Hanau (Germany) in 1598. The copy of the Paris edition recently acquired by the British library, preserved in its original white soft vellum binding, comes from the dispersal of the Early European collections of the Los Angeles Law library, which were sold at auction by Bonhams in London in March and May 2014.

5 Cabot Variarum tp
Title page of Vincent Cabot, Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum (Paris, 1598). RB.23.a.36826

Cabot’s prefatory epistle is dedicated to Petrus Faber, Pierre Du Faur de Saint-Jorry, who was president of theToulouse Parliament before Vincent Cabot, and called him back from OrlĂ©ans to Toulouse as a law professor. Cabot’s work deals with contemporary political issues, including the relation between the monarchy and the Church (e.g. the role of kings in the election of bishops), and royal succession (e.g. the right of women to inherit the crown).

6 Cabot Variarum dedication
Dedication to Petrus Faber, from Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum

A further work by Cabot, Les Politiques was published posthumously in Toulouse in 1630 by LĂ©onard Campistron, who dedicated the book to Cardinal Richelieu. Cabot makes a profuse use of lay and religious authorities, in particular Jean Bodin’s RĂ©publique and NiccolĂČ Machiavelli. A learned scholar and jurist, Cabot is a pioneer of political science and promotes in his work a centralised and moderate monarchy.

IrĂšne Fabry-Tehranchi, Curator Romance collections

7 Cabot Variarum index
Pages frrom Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum

11 November 2016

Afire for peace: Henri Barbusse’s Le Feu (1916)

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The family of Henri Barbusse originated from a part of France with a strong radical tradition. He was born in AsniĂšres-sur-Seine in 1873 to an English mother who died when Henri was three years old and a father whose Protestant forebears had lived in the hamlet of Anduze, near AlĂšs, as far back as the 17th century. The Protestants of the CĂ©vennes had suffered repeated persecution, and Adrien Barbusse, a journalist and theatre critic on Le SiĂšcle, was anti-clerical and anti-monarchist by conviction. Not surprisingly, his son grew up to be an atheist, humanist and socialist, who, at the time of the Dreyfus affair, was convinced of the accused’s innocence. Henri wrote articles for La Paix par le Droit supporting international arbitration in place of war, and was also an enthusiastic supporter of Esperanto as a means to this end.

Barbusse portrait Lariviere YF.2010.a.19040
Portrait of Henri Barbusse from Eklumo en la abismo (DĂŒsseldorf, 1923; British Library YF.2010.a.19040) a translation into Esperanto of  La Lueur dans l'abîme. (Paris, 1920; 08007.ee.6)

His earliest literary efforts were in poetry rather than political journalism, and in 1892 his entry for a poetry competition launched by L’Echo de Paris attracted the attention of the renowned poet Catulle MendĂšs, whose daughter HĂ©lyonne he subsequently married. His first collection of poems, Pleureuses (Paris, 1895; reprinted 1920: 011483.c.74) was followed in 1908 by his first novel, L’Enfer (W16/3331), the story of a young bank clerk from the provinces who, bored and lonely in his dingy Paris lodgings, observes his neighbours through a crack in the wall. The sense of pessimism and human isolation which permeates its pages reflects the author’s awareness of the nationalism and militarism with which France was riddled, as destructive as the cancer destroying the body of one of the characters.

How prophetic this insight had been became clear with the outbreak of war in 1914. Although aged 41 and suffering from a lung condition, Barbusse did not hesitate to enlist, and in December 1914 joined the 231st infantry regiment, serving as a stretcher-bearer in the front line. Transferred to Artois, he was twice mentioned in despatches for bravery before dysentery and chest problems caused him to be invalided out into a desk job in 1916. With time to reflect on his experiences, he began work on the book nowadays regarded as his masterpiece – Le Feu.

Barbusse Le feu 12548.tt.32. cover
Cover of Le Feu (Paris, 1916) 12548.tt.32

It was a shrewd move to publish the novel in serial form in L’Oeuvre, for this enabled Barbusse to outwit another enemy: censorship. His raw and outspoken portrayal of life in the trenches was calculated to offend the sensibilities of those who entertained sentimental notions of glorious death on the battlefield, not least by his unsparing use of the ‘gros mots’ employed by the common soldiers – farmhands, shopkeepers, manual labourers – experiencing the monotony, squalor and misery of life under enemy bombardment. With a blend of black humour and clinical precision he describes the coarse jokes and unexpected camaraderie of men all too conscious that at any time they may end up like the muddied, seared and mutilated remnants of humanity whose scattered limbs lie all around them. The first-aid post provides scant relief; the overtaxed doctors, trying to stretch their meagre resources to deal with the carnage confronting them, can do little to treat the horrific injuries of hundreds of casualties.

In Chapter 23, the narrator and his comrades spend a few days on leave in Paris, a completely different world where they encounter pen-pushers, comfortable in reserved occupations, and gushing women with romantic visions of young heroes rushing to die with a smile on their lips. The narrator swiftly realizes that there is little point in trying to convey to them any idea of the true nature of war – the purpose, as it were, of Barbusse’s novel - and the closing pages reveal an army of mud-caked ghosts stumbling about in the devastated landscape, ‘like the Cyranos or Don Quixotes that they still are’, as they acknowledge that they were no more than ‘honest killers. (
) The act of killing is always ignoble – necessary sometimes, but always ignoble’. In the final paragraph, a solitary voice declares, ‘If this present war had advanced progress by a single step, its miseries and massacres will count for little’, as a single ray of light breaks through the storm-clouds, `proof none the less that the sun exists’.

Barbusse portrait Muter 08282.a.40.
Portrait of Barbusse from Lettre aux intellectuels (Rome, 1921; 08282.a.40).

The novel inevitably provoked strong and frequently hostile reactions, but its significance was rapidly recognized, and in December 1916 Barbusse received a letter informing him that it had won the Prix Goncourt. It would pave the way for other outstanding works based on wartime experiences, including Roland DorgelĂšs’s Les Croix de bois (Paris, 1919; 012547.aa.12) and Erich Maria Remarque’s Im Westen nicht Neues (Berlin, 1929; W13/8499). Barbusse himself became, in 1917, the co-founder of the Association rĂ©publicaine des anciens combattants (ARAC) and a supporter of the Russian Revolution, making several journeys to the USSR and writing a biography of Stalin (Staline. Un monde nouveau vu à travers un homme: Paris, 1935; 20003.a.24). That same year, he died suddenly, aged 62, on 30 August during a visit to Moscow (some sources claimed that he was poisoned on Stalin’s orders, although his long-standing pulmonary trouble makes the official cause of death – pneumonia – at least plausible). He was also, however, one of the founders of the pacifist Amsterdam-Pleyel movement, and a prominent member of the Front populaire, attracting huge crowds to pay their last respects when, on 7 September 1935, he was buried close to the Mur des FĂ©dĂ©rĂ©s in the cemetery of PĂšre Lachaise.

Barbusse Le feu 12548.tt.32. dedication
Barbusse’s dedication of Le feu

Le Feu bears a dedication to the memory of Barbusse’s comrades who fell beside him at Crouy and on Hill 119. Within a month of his joining his regiment, around half the men in his unit were killed on the front near Soissons. On Armistice Day, whatever Barbusse’s subsequent political views, it is fitting to remember not only those soldiers and the fallen on both sides but also his testimony to them as a moral witness.

Susan Halstead Content Specialist (Humanities and Social Sciences) Research Engagement

13 September 2016

More Virgil than Cervantes

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The British Library has recently purchased a rare copy of a little-known French verse adaptation of Cervantes’ novel Don Quijote. The AbbĂ© Jouffreau de Lagerie (or Lazerie), published his Don Quichote: PoĂ«me hĂ©roĂŻ-comique, in two parts in 1782-3. Biographical information is extremely scarce and Jouffreau de Lagerie is in fact better known as the anonymous author of a collection of erotic verse, Le Joujou des demoiselles, of which there were several editions. (The British Library possesses three: [Paris, 1750?] (P.C.27.a.35), [Paris, 1775?] (P.C 27.a.39), and one with the false imprint Larnaca, [1881?]( P.C.17.b.15).

Quichote1
Title-page of Don Quichote. Poëme héroï-comique (Monatauban, 1782-3) RB.23.a.36964

The PoĂ«me is divided into 5 chants or cantos, preceded by a prose introduction. It is composed in the classical French metre of rhyming alexandrine couplets. The narrative draws on Cervantes’ novel but it is not in any way a version of it. It opens with Don Quixote’s distress at Dulcinea’s transformation into a peasant girl by the sorcerer Malembrin who has also carried her off to the Underworld. Encouraged by la Folie (Folly), the knight and Sancho Panza do battle with Malembrin and his army, led by the giant Freston. To save his forces from certain defeat the sorcerer transforms them into windmills, which inflict great damage on both knight and squire. Transformations preserve his army in two subsequent engagements. Folly returns to encourage Quixote, promising the return of Dulcinea and urging him on to new adventures. Spurred on, Quixote rescues Queen Lucinda from a gang of robbers. Malembrin now conspires with l’Amour (the God of Love), to make the knight fall in love with Lucinda. The King of the gods, alarmed at Quixote’s lapse, complains to Folly who, in the guise of a wronged queen, seeks Quixote’s aid. He abandons Lucinda, who takes her own life. Quixote descends to the Underworld, guided by Folly, where with the aid of other knights errant he defeats Malembrin. Dulcinea is rescued and freed from the evil spell.

Quichote2
Quixote leaves his house, led by Folly and Love. From an edition of Francois Filleul de Saint-Martin’s French translation, Histoire de l’admirable Don Quichotte de la Manche (Paris, 1741) Cerv.131. vol. 1, facing p. 11.

Malembrin and Freston both occur in Cervantes’ novel. Malambruno is the giant and sorcerer in the elaborate charade that is the ‘Dueña Dolorida’ episode (Don Quijote, II: 38-41); FrestĂłn is the enchanter whom Quixote blames for his failures. Queen Lucinda, however, is clearly not the beloved of Cardenio (DQ. I: 24-37), but the Duchesse de MĂ©doc from the second continuation of François Filleul de Saint-Martin’s version of Don Quijote (Paris, 1713; Cerv.126.). In Livre III, ch. 42, Don Quixote and Sancho rescue the Duke and Duchess from a band of robbers, as in the PoĂ«me. Sancho’s elevation to the status of knight-errant also derives from the continuations.

In addition to the windmills episode, other notable incidents from Cervantes’ novel appear in the PoĂ«me in a new guise. Malembrin’s transformation of his army into sheep to save them in the second encounter with Don Quixote is adapted from the knight’s mistaking a flock of sheep for an army (DQ, I: 18). The motif of a damsel in distress employed as a ruse echoes the role of Dorotea as the Princess Micomicona (DQ, I, 29-30) and the ‘Dueña dolorida’ episode.

As the opening lines suggest, however, what most characterizes Jouffreau de Lagerie’s work is its imitation of Virgil’s Aeneid. . The first line clearly echoes Virgil’s opening lines: ‘Arms and the man I sing who
 exiled by fate’:

Je chante ce HĂ©ros qui loin de sa patrie
Fit revivre les lois de la chevalerie (Canto 1, p. 7)
(‘I sing of the Hero who, far from his native land,
revived the code of knight errantry’)

Quichotte3

To the world of chivalry and evil sorcerers is added that of the Classical gods and goddesses. So we have Folly (Greek AtĂ«), Love (i.e. Eros/Cupid) and a ‘Roi des Dieux’, fancifully named ‘Tulican’ who nonetheless has the role of Zeus/Jupiter. Narrative motifs involving the gods can be traced to Virgil. For example, Folly’s tearful plea to Tulican on behalf of Quixote after Malembrin’s magic saves Freston’s army (Canto 2) echoes Venus’s plea to Jupiter to spare the Aeneas and the Trojans (Aeneid, Book I, lines 229 ff). Earlier, Folly successfully pleads with the god for the recovery of her freedom from la Sagesse, goddess of Wisdom (Canto 1). More blatant still, the Queen Lucinda episode, specifically the boar hunt and Lucinda’s suicide, derives from Virgil’s account of the fatal love of Dido for Aeneas (Aeneid, Book IV).

Jouffreau also employs extended similes, so typical of Virgil. Examples include the unlikely description of Sancho in battle as a lion defending his cubs against a hunter (Canto 2, p. 28); the likening of the dust clouds stirred up by Freston’s army to snow whipped up by the North wind (Canto 3, p. 4); and the comparison of the fall of the giant Morgan at Quixote’s hand to the felling of a pine tree (Canto 3, p. 9).

Unlike his Jouffreau’s anthology of erotic verse, this work was not a success to judge by the existence apparently of just one edition. Evidently drawing on the version of Filleul de Saint-Martin and its two continuations, Don Quichote emerges as a scholarly exercise in re-creating Classical Latin verse in French hexameters. Jouffreau’s Sancho is transformed from savvy peasant to knightly hero, as indeed is Quixote himself. He is worlds away from the comedic, but essentially human would-be knight-errant whose bookish ideals clash with the reality of Golden Age Spain. And surely it is only Cupid’s arrow that would have rendered Cervantes’ Don Quixote unfaithful to Dulcinea?

Geoff West, formerly Lead Curator Hispanic Collections