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Dialogues sacres/Dialogi sacri (premier livre).

Dialogues sacres/Dialogi sacri (premier livre). By SEBASTIEN CASTELLION. Ed. by DAVID AMHERDT and YVES GIRAUD. (Textes Litteraires Francais, 571) Geneva: Droz. 2004. 264 pp. SwF 42. ISBN 2-600-00930-2.

Castellion (1515-63, also Castalio and Chateillon) is best known as an early advocate of religious toleration and freedom of conscience (De haereticis an sint persequendi, 1554, and Conseil a la France desolee, 1562). A Reformer, but opponent of Calvin, and Professor of Greek at Basel, he also aroused controversy with his translations of the Bible into Latin and French. The Dialogues sacres represent a less polemical aspect of his career and a familiar genre of humanist pedagogy. Although the second edition of 1545, four books in Latin, became the standard text republished well into the eighteenth century, the editors have opted to reproduce the first book in the original edition of 1543. This, published in Geneva rather than Basel, was accompanied by a French translation. The parallel text thus provides interesting and relatively rare material on the mechanics of translating Scripture into the vernacular, since the thirty-two dialogues are largely simplified extracts from the Bible. Here lies the difference from Erasmus's Colloquia, an obvious point of comparison: the secular and increasingly satirical sophistication of the latter contrasts with the simple piety (and unadorned language) of Castellion's work. The editors examine these themes, together with the history of Latin teaching and the evolution of this text, constantly refurbished (as were the Colloquia).This first book comprises episodes from the Old Testament, Genesis to Judges. Roughly half the material reproduces scriptural dialogue directly, the rest being narrative transformed by Castellion into dialogue; his additions frequently serve to reinforce the moral lesson for his schoolboy audience. For their benefit Castellion also simplifies the Latin, in particular the word order, which enables him to produce a fairly literal but idiomatic French translation. He selects dramatic episodes to engage their attention: Eve and the serpent, Abraham's sacrifice, Samson's massacre, even Lot and the Sodomites! Solemnity is restored by the inclusion, in the final pages, of the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. The editors' footnotes diligently elucidate the textual problems, linguistic oddities, and thematic quirks of the text. A useful appendix groups together some noteworthy grammatical characteristics of Castellion's French, followed by a helpful (French) glossary and a full bibliography. In highlighting the vernacular aspects of the book--not least by their choice of this unique bilingual edition--the editors have catered for modern interests, but the republication of the Latin dialogues also provides an accessible insight into Renaissance pedagogy.



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Author:Heath, Michael
Publication:The Modern Language Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2006
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