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Graffigny Rediviva: Editions of the Lettres d'une Péruvienne (1967-1993) David Smith A bestseller on its first appearance in 1747 and a steady seller until 1835, Mme de Graffigny's Lettres d'une Péruvienne suddenly went into an eclipse from which it emerged only in recent times with the publication of Gianni Nicoletti's critical edition of the work (Bari, 1967). Three editions have appeared since: the Flammarion edition by Bernard Bray and Isabelle Landy-Houillon (Paris, 1983), the Côté-femmes edition with a preface by Colette Piau-Gillot (Paris, 1990), and the MLA edition with a double-barrelled introduction by Joan DeJean and Nancy K. Miller (New York, 1993). The last of these, which is part of a series of "Texts and Translations," has a companion volume translated into English by David Kornacker. Part of the credit for this recent upsurge in popularity must be given to three scholars: Nicoletti, English Showalter, and Alan Dainard with his team of editors of the Graffigny Correspondance. It is thanks mainly to the feminist revolution, however, that the Péruvienne can be said to have returned to the canon, at least in the United States. There is no great theoretical problem about choosing a base text for a modern edition of the Péruvienne. Graffigny authorized two editions, the first published by la veuve Pissot in 1747 under the jocose imprint "A Peine," the second, somewhat revised and with three new letters, EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION, Volume 7, Number 1, October 1994 72 EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION published by Duchesne in 1752, along with her Cénie. Not surprisingly, Nicoletti chose to use the 1752 text, indicating in the notes the variants of the 1747 edition. As one of the new letters advocates remarkably advanced feminist ideas, it is even less surprising that the 1752 edition is preferred by the other editors as well. The MLA edition simply reprints the text of the Flammarion edition. The latter devotes a paragraph to editorial principles (pp. 246-47), which include the modernization of spelling, the occasional correction of punctuation, and the maintenance of initial capitals for certain "divine" concepts (Soleil, Vierge) and Incan titles. In correcting some obvious mistakes, its editors duly acknowledge a debt to Nicoletti' s edition (p. 247). Nicoletti's editorial principles are not described in any detail (pp. 4546 ). He modernizes minimally and corrects misprints and other errors of his base text. His transcription of the 1752 edition seems accurate, but unfortunately his own text has a few misprints ("Orde" for "Ordre" [p. 225]; "luis" for "lui" [p. 260]; "du vous revoir" for "de vous revoir" [p. 320]), which are all corrected in the Flammarion edition. Moreover, it is sometimes hard to distinguish between an error of transcription and an editorial correction. Surely the 1752 text correctly reads: "est-il un [séjour] plus agréable que celui de la France? (p. 255)" (not de France), "Vous ne partirez point. Laissez-moi mon ami (p. 278)" (with no comma after "moi"), and "une déférence pour moi que (p. 320)" (instead of deleting "pour moi"). AU these revisions are, however, reproduced in the Flammarion edition, which suggests that its editors have not gone back to the base text, but have simply followed Nicoletti. The only unsatisfactory aspect of the Nicoletti edition concerns the 1747 variants. Nicoletti claims there are three A Peine 1747 editions, each called an "edizione originale," a total which, to quote the notary in Les Femmes savantes, is "trop pour la coutume." His descriptions of the three are rudimentary, and he does not indicate where copies are located.1 1 have indentified only two of the three, but not the third, since it is one of four editions with the same pagination (viii + 337 pp.). He proceeds as if the three were textually the same and as if one of them were authorized by Graffigny. Both of these assumptions I find unlikely for two reasons. First, I have so far found eleven editions with the imprint "A Peine." I have not collated them all, but I can testify that they are not all textually 1 Though Nicoletti claims that the editions listed in his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0243
Print ISSN
0840-6286
Pages
pp. 71-78
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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