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Le Jeu du Prince des Sotz et de Mere Sotte.

Le Jeu du Prince des Sotz et de Mere Sotte. By PIERRE GRINGORE. Ed. by ALAN HINDLEY. (La Renaissance Francaise, Editions et Monographies, 9) Paris: Champion, 2000. 213 pp. 250 F. ISBN 2-7453-0475-5.

Pierre Gringore's play--in fact three related plays, a sottie, a morality, and a farce, totalling about 1,500 lines, and performed at the Halles in Paris on Mardi Gras in 1512--is a remarkable work in many ways; it is therefore all the more surprising that no true critical edition of the complete work has ever been published, although the farce was recently edited by Andre Tissier. Alan Hindley's fine edition has now filled this gap. The Jeu is somewhat unusual in that it is very closely linked to a precise historical moment, the Italian wars of the early 1500s and, in particular, the conflict between Louis XII and Pope Julius II. The fact that the Jeu is not anonymous is also untypical. Gringore's life is well documented, as Hindley shows; he was, moreover, very concerned with his authorial status and determined to ensure that his literary productions were not pirated.

Medieval French comic theatre is often more problematic than the religious drama. The language of farces, sotties, and moralities can be very allusive, colloquial, even slangy; moreover, the content, with its political, religious, historical, and allegorical dimensions, requires considerable elucidation. The heart of editions of such texts is thus often found in the footnotes and the glossary. Hindley's presentation of Gringore's text successfully points out and explains virtually all of its linguistic and socio-political problems. His edition takes the classic form: an introduction of some fifty pages, covering topics such as the career of Gringore, the historical and religious background, language and versification, staging, and a literary-dramatic analysis. The fully annotated text (that of the Paris edition, published probably just after the first performance, with the variants of the second edition, probably from 1511-20) is followed by two glossaries and a bibliography.

There are, as in almost all such editions, a number of minor errors. Moreover, the 'toilette du texte' does not follow any of the standard methods: there are no diaereses to indicate hiatus (so monosyllabic fier 'proud' is not distinguished from disyllabic fier 'to trust'); tonic 'e's are supposed to be given acute accents, but no accents are placed on apres, proces, exces, as they should be, which means that the pronunciation of the final syllable cannot be distinguished from that of words like avecques. The glosssary, although generally good, omits one or two words that could usefully be included (divers 'cruel, hard'; humain 'kindly'). More importantly, verb forms are classed under the infinitive, even if the infinitive does not appear in the text (though this is not apparent), and gender information is not always based on the examples in the text. Hindley's discussion of the staging is sensible and conservative, but more could have been deduced from the text of the sottie. If the revelation of Mere Sotte's disguise as Julius/Saincte Eglise is to be a surprise for the other characters towards the end of the text, then her first speech (ll. 346-50), in which she describes her disguise, cannot be heard or seen by the other Sots; in which case we must have at least two sets, or the temporary departure of some characters. But the major strength of this edition lies in its introduction and its footnotes, where all allusions, both linguistic and socio-political, are commented on in depth. Hindley has at last done justice to Gringore's famous triple bill.

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Author:Runnalls, Graham A.
Publication:The Modern Language Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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