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Wolfgang Muculus (1497-1563): destin d'un autodidiacte lorrain au siecle des Reformes and Lettres: edition critique par Joel Blanchard. (Reviews).

L'epistolaire au XVIe siecle Cahiers V.-L. Saulnier 18.

Paris: Editions Rue d'Ulm, 2001. 256 pp. FF 160. ISBN: 2-7288-0260-2.

Reinhard Bodenmann. Wolfgang Muculus (1497-1563): destin d'un autodidiacte lorrain au siecle des Reformes

(Travaux d'Humanisme et Renaissance, CCCXLIII.) Geneva: Droz, 2000. 724 pp. + 24 pls. n.p. ISBN: 2-600-00455-6.

Philippe de Commynes. Lettres: edition critique par Joel Blanchard

(Textes Litteraires Francais.) Geneva: Droz, 2001. 335 pp. n.p. ISBN: 2-600-00488-2.

Jean Lemaire de Belges. Chronique de 1507: edition critique par Anne Schoysman; notes historiques et index des noms propres par Jean-Marie Cauchies Brussels: Academie Royale de Belgique, 2000. 225 pp. BFr 1,050. ISBN: 2-8031-0180-7.

L'epistolaire au XVIe siecle begins with an uncharacteristically florid introduction by Frank Lestringant in which he evokes letters' ability to overcome the absence of the past, "capable de saisir et de rendre, et capturer et de reveler ces instances venus de la nuit des temps." Claude La Charite chronicles the implantation of Erasmian rhetoric in successive editions of Pierre Fabri's manual, first destined for local notaries then, by the middle of the sixteenth century, for anyone seeking to write more persuasive letters for wider enjoyment. Benedicte Boudu examines Henri Estienne's Commentariolus (1578) on Cicero's Epistolae familiares, characterizing it as a veritable reditus ad fontes, calculated to free humanists from devotion to Ciceronian didacticism. According to Boudu, Estienne saw his task less as prescribing correct usage than as finding and recreating the full semantic range of Cicero's Vocabulary. Marie-Madeleine Fragonard offers us a typically fluent sketch of the difficulties and contradiction s she encountered trying to make a'Aubigne's correspondence available to readers today. The most coherent letters were precisely those she thinks d'Aubigne wrote to make a general theological or scientific point rather than to maintain a relationship with their addressee. If this suggests that he hoped his letters would eventually find their way into the public domain, however, his use of those addressed to him as simple pieces of paper, handy for lists or verse fragments, throws this assumption into doubt. Jean Letrouit contributed a scrupulously detailed description of a manuscript notebook left by Jean Maledent, a Limousin humanist and sometime lawyer who was a friend of Turnebus, Dorat, and Muret. Viviane Mellinghoff-Bourgerie, author of a brand new biography of Francois de Sales, finds in Gabriel Chappuys' hasty adaptation of Jean de Avila's Epistres spirituelles an early manifestation of the shift from the humanist study of rhetoric to a Reformation search for professional spiritual guides. She also fin ds clear evidence of a virulent anti-hispanism, which she places alongside the much more widely recognized celebration among the French intelligentsia of all things Italian. Alain Dufour delivered a brief but typically insightful analysis of what Theodore de Beze left out of his voluminous correspondence on its way to forty volumes. Beze never touched on the political or economic divisions that roiled the consistory, doubtless out of a desire not to discourage the faithful elsewhere. Dufour suggests that Beze kept the Ministers' vigilance on moral matters out of his letters for the same reason, apparently out of his belief that the faithful were attracted to the Reform solely out of theological conviction, and that its economic or moral corollaries were forced on them by their Ministers.

Jean-Eudes Girot paints an appealing story of Paul Manuce's successful effort to beguile Muret into giving him the annotations for their 1558 edition of three Latin elegists at the publisher's accelerated pace. Chiara Lastraioli gives us a foretaste of a forthcoming volume of the correspondence between Claude Dupuy and Gian Vincenzo Pinelli (Klincksieck). We discover the constraints imposed on the book trade by the political and religious divisions of the 1570's, as well as the first evidence of the split between the editing styles and methods of Scaliger and Muret. Elianne Viennot took a frankly polemical position on Anne de Beaujeu's pivotal role in the court of her younger brother Charles VIII, even as she admits that she could have made a stronger case had she taken the time to make sure that Anne was actually at court when the letters in question were being written. Jacqueline Boucher recounted the long development of and abrupt end to Villeroy's service to Henry III. The king sought to use his favor and frankness toward Villeroy to secure his allegiance in the treacherous 1580's, but Henry's efforts were complicated by the rivalry between the robins and commoners serving as secretaries and the king's aristocratic favoris: Villeroy simply used the king's epistolary confidences to gain favor with the ultra-Catholic Ligueurs. Hugues Daussy offers a typology of Duplessis-Mornay's correspondence which shows the evolution in correspondents from the aftermath of Saint Bartholomew all the way to Mornay's embarrassing his sovereign in 1600, when Henry IV was seeking reconciliation with Rome. The famous literary historian Daniel Menager explores the tension in ambassadors' correspondence between ceremonial duties and private space, which led them to treasure their "arriere-boutique" all the more. Catherine Magnien concludes by evoking, as Lestringant had done at the outset, letters' ability to bring the dead to life, even as she (and many other contributors) recognized the conventions increasingly governing sixteenth -century letter-writing.

Wolfgang Muculus was an early reformer who was chased from his position of power and influence in Augsburg by the enforcement of the Imperial "Interim" in the summer of 1548; he finished his life as a Biblical commentator and scholar in Berne in 1563. The Life of Muculus was written ten years after his death by his eldest son Abraham, in part in order to convince the Bernois of his own orthodoxy. The effort must have succeeded, for Abraham was later named Dean of the pastors in the city.

Bodenmann has given us much more than a simple reproduction of Abraham's Latin text, with a translation on the facing page and elaborate notes from the elder Wolfgang's extensive correspondence. However, the Life, even with extensive prefatory materials as well as more than 400 notes over eighty pages of small type, takes less than half the volume. There are also over a hundred pages of bibliography and indexes, and fifteen chapters on widely varying topics. The problem for this reviewer is that Bodenmann has deliberately eschewed presenting a thesis over these chapters, or even within each one, out of post-modern suspicion of coherence. This decision yields a series of unconnected thoughts which can give an impression of self-indulgence, although his final chapter, "Esquisse d'un portrait psychologique," leads me to regret his methodological choice for the earlier chapters all the more. He suggests that the elder Wolfgang was motivated throughout his life by a courageous eagerness to leave the landmarks of h is youth behind, combined with a fear of conflict which made him far more attentive than many of his contemporaries to the unity of the Reformed Church. Bodenmann makes a persuasive case that this unusual combination of boldness and shyness (retenu) was responsible for the behavior that gave him the nickname of the "Protestant Monk." My chief complaint was the book would have gained from an attempt to subject the other chapters to the discipline that governed this one.

We can find ample evidence of that turn in Philippe de Commynes' Lettres, newly published from texts recovered all over Europe by Joel Blanchard, the author of Commynes l'Europeen: l'invention du politique. Blanchard has found eighty-one letters, which he arranges into five periods: 1) the Pazzi conspiracy and its aftermath [1478-1482], treated in the first thirty-four letters, 2) the period after Louis XI's madness and the regency which followed it [1484-1489; letters 35-40], 3) Commynes' return to royal favor and his efforts to recover his estate [1490-1493; 41-54], 4) the preparations for Charles VIII's expedition and Commynes' mission to Venice [1494-1495; 55-73], and 5) Commynes' efforts to regularize his relationships both with the Medicis and with Anne de Bretagne.

Fifty-seven of these letters were published in the nineteenth century but, with six exceptions, Blanchard based his edition on manuscript copies he examined himself. A large part of the interest of this collection is, again, in the words themselves: Blanchard includes a glossary and an index of names, and he concludes his introduction with a few, very suggestive, notes on the evolution of middle French. It is hard to imagine using this text in an undergraduate literature course, the way one might the TLF Pantagruel, but this record of personal disappointments and desperate attempts to recover lost payments mixed with sudden suspicions and obsequious waiting in antechambers would certainly be useful in a graduate offering on what Blanchard calls "l'histoire totale."

Lemaire de Belges' Chronique de 1507 has been published in a nineteenth-century edition, but this one is valuable for several reasons. Not only does it include an exhaustive Index des noms propres and glossary, but it also offers us almost three hundred Notes linguistiques, ranging from a few words to several lines, along with a few pages of "Remarques stylistiques" that are among Schoysman's most sensitive and evocative writing, for she has undertaken this very considerable labor in order to offer a corpus for more specialized studies, and she has provided future researchers with excellent starting points.

The text itself is of limited interest; it consists primarily of detailed descriptions of Marguerite of Austria's entries into the cities of Flanders and the Netherlands upon her taking up her duties as royal governor for the six-year old who later became Charles V, along with a description of the funeral service for Marguerite's brother Maximilian which had already been published in 1508. There are arresting passages, like Marguerite's encounter with 100 mounted archers from the late King's guard on the road to Douay. Lemaire de Belges describes them as humble, and Marguerite's response to their request for support as benign, but it is hard to resist wondering how much choice she had. Lemaire's description of the cry "Le Roy est mort," followed by "Vive don Charles," and a recitation of his many titles from the four corners of the church, gave life to the venerable ceremony for this reader.

The primary interest of this volume, however, is in the words, and Schoysman's diligence in making them readily available to later researchers. I noticed that Lemaire de Belges referred to "gens de bien de la loy" as "seigneurs de la robe longue"; 1507 strikes me as early for such an epithet. Part of the explanation is doubtless Lemaire de Belges' tireless promotion of the traditional aristocracy: pride of place in the funeral ceremony was given to the Order of the Golden Fleece while "le menu peuple," reported to be unable to contain their joy when Marguerite appeared, were kept out by elaborate physical barriers.

Schoysman has reproduced Lemaire de Belges' manuscript on the left hand page, with each addition, emendation, and correction scrupulously noted (though she unaccountably did not reproduce the indications of where he wanted his additions inserted) and, on the right, her reconstruction of how he probably meant his text to appear. The result is, as she hoped, a volume that makes it possible to follow the "grands rhetoriqueurs" as they fashioned a language that would reproduce their vision of a Europe united by class and tradition at the moment that the continent turned from that prospect to a more modern one, governed by narrower interests.
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Author:Benson, Edward
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 2002
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