François Béroalde de Verville: Le Moyen de parvenir
In 1984 Hélène Moreau and André Tournon brought out what was then, and has remained ever since, by far the most scholarly and useful critical edition of Le Moyen de parvenir (see FS, xxxix (1985), 195–96), the extraordinary fictional banquet at which hundreds of voices of famous people, living and (especially) dead, from Caesar to Ronsard, produce a disturbing mixture of philosophy, satire and obscenity that questions the value of language, learning and ethics. Moreau and Tournon's edition has played a large part in Verville's transformation into a writer of celebrity status: at a recent conference in France on Renaissance riddles, more papers were devoted to him than to anyone else. Now, with another publisher and an extra collaborator, they have revised their edition considerably, not only taking account of what has emerged since, such as the dates of Verville's death (1626) and of the earliest known edition (between 1614 and 1617, probably 1616), and not only revising key elements of their edition — such as the excellent introductory essays, the illuminating brief footnotes, and the punctuation system used for transcribing — but also now adding important, more extensive endnotes by Jean-Luc Ristori, which identify major intertexts, [End Page 388] including Verville's earlier writings that are reworked in Le Moyen de parvenir in precise ways. As before, two versions of the text are supplied: on the one hand a facsimile of what the editors demonstrate convincingly to be the earliest known state of the earliest known edition, and on the other hand a modernized transcription of that edition, which gives useful variants and also shows the tradition of dividing up and attributing the speeches that has become common since the eighteenth century. The transcription volume also concludes with an overview of Verville's voluminous writings (Histoire vraie is a slip for Histoire veritable, p. 456) and excellent indexes of themes and names. In physical terms alone, these sturdy and elegantly produced hardback volumes are designed to last much longer than the 1984 version. So there are many reasons why any person or library possessing that earlier version should, if it all possible, replace it with this one.