- Œuvres complètes. Tome I. Petites œuvres meslees, suivies du Recueil des vers de Monsieur d’Ayre
D'Aubigné specialists, those interested in meditations on the psalms, poetic genres, adaptations of verse to music, the creative process, and so on, will find this welcome critical edition of great value. Reading d'Aubigné is never easy. The wealth of allusion to classical, biblical and contemporary material is often subtly concealed and needs considerable research for its exegesis. Véronique Ferrer, who worked on the Petites œuvres meslees for her thesis, has provided a rich and informative introduction and a copiously annotated commentary. The originality of her approach lies in the dating of the works, her recourse to fragmented manuscripts and published versions for the variants and her illuminating stylistic cum lexical observations. The text is based on the edition of 1630, more widely available than that of 1629, although, apart from the title page, both texts are identical. As the name of the collection suggests, it is a medley of works, written over a period of more than fifty years, and divided into four sections — Meditations sur les pseaumes, L'Hercule chrestien, Vers mesurés and L'Hyver — the link being their spiritual orientation, 'l'œuvre est parcourue par des lignes de force qui organisent son unité' (p. 39). The editor shows how d'Aubigné was conscious of the political portent of the Méditations and how the manuscripts reveal 'le dynamisme d'une écriture, subordonnée à un projet à la fois pragmatique et esthétique' (p. 24). She sees in L'Hercule chrestien a treatise which reflects the 'image idéale du chrétien […] à laquelle tout fidèle est sommé de ressembler' (p. 50); for her, the whole collection bears witness to a powerful rhetoric, born of the context and necessary in the light of the [End Page 268] 'délitescence du parti protestant' (p. 101). It is certain that, in this collection, we see many of d'Aubigné's facets, for instance, the theologian, the politician, the creative poet. The volume also contains the text of the Recueil des vers de Monsieur d'Ayre, described by Eugénie Droz in 1947 and which the editor was able to consult again, drawing a number of conclusions which are in contradiction with those of the earlier commentary. Many of the works in the Recueil are to be found in the Petites œuvres, but it is useful to take note of the juxtaposition of the poems and their variants. The edition also contains nine religious writings, discovered in the Tronchin archives and dating from 1620 to 1630, which are similar in tone and content to those of the Petites œuvres. Six useful appendices contain facsimiles of the page de garde of the 1629 edition; settings of 'vers mesurés' to music by Claude Le Jeune and Eustache Du Caurroy; a selection from the Tronchin papers and from the manuscript of the Recueil. There are the usual indexes but — a trivial point which does not detract from the overall quality of this excellent edition — I should have liked one for first lines.