restricted access Writing the Renaissance: Essays on Sixteenth-Century French Literature in Honor of Floyd Gray ed. by Raymond C. La Charité (review)
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L ’E sp r it C r éa te u r ingenuity and sheen of the study can shine forth— The Graphic Unconscious only demon­ strates the flaws to which any groundbreaking, idiosyncratic study will fall prey. No matter what its slight discrepancies, The Graphic Unconscious is a work that no sixteenth-century scholar can afford not to read. The first chapter deals with Clement M arot’s Rondeaux as demonstrating a theological dilemma, particularly in the altering o f typographic convention. He creates in print a silent space in which the coded self emerges through punning and counter-writing. In Chapter Two, “ The Rabelaisian Hieroglyph,” Rabelais’ text mimes architectural structuring pro­ grams of the period through such techniques as counterpoint, spiraling and mirror effects. Chapter Three, to my mind the strongest and most compelling of the chapters, is devoted to Ronsard’s “ sonnet-pictures.” Ronsard reacts against an official ideology of poetry, writing change and transformation into a sublevel of his text as visual paradigms of a new, freer expression. The discussion of Ronsard continues in Chapter Four, “ The Turn of the Letter: From Cassandre to Helene.” Ronsard scatters ideograms of himself, derived from vocali­ zation and orthographic theory, throughout his poems to create a texture, a materiality that works to assume the immortality of his poetic voice. His poetry is visual in the extreme, but not in the conventional sense: its visuals must be read in order to be viewed; they are not immediately apparent, but must be constructed by a sensitive and creative auscultation of the text. Chapter Five, on Montaigne’s “ De l’exercitation,” shows that typographic slips and slides are played on to convey the movement toward selfhood sketched in Montaigne’s Essais. In Chapter Six, Conley continues his reading of Montaigne, examining “ Des coches” to find a politico-economic technique both veiled and communicated by typogra­ phy. Conley’s conclusion reiterates his aim, one he has amply realized: to show “ where printed characters are seen engaging homeopathic and mimetic relations with readers” (164). I am tempted to call this work a schizophrenic-like sparkle o f neologism, a pyrotechnics of punning. But it is much, much more. Conley’s The Graphic Unconscious is simply the most creative, dynamic study in the field in years, energizing new approaches, condoning liberties taken with the text by using the text itself as point-of-departure. He is a reader in the fullest sense: he permits the text to actualize itself, to achieve a culturally-specific voice even in these acontextual times. C a t h a r i n e R a n d a l l Barnard College/Columbia University Raym ond C. La Charité, ed. W r i t i n g t h e R e n a is s a n c e : E s s a y s o n S ix t e e n t h - C e n t u r y F r e n c h L i t e r a t u r e in H o n o r o f F lo y d G r a y . Lexington, KY: French Forum Mono­ graphs, 1992. Pp. 231. Floyd Gray has been, for many years, not just one of this country’s most productive and stimulating seiziémistes, but one of its most influential, in terms of both his published work and his personal contact with students. Even the French, mirabile dictu, acknowledge their debt to him, if we may judge from the warm tribute here by André Tournon. The 15 articles in this volume divide neatly into three sections of five articles each: Rabelais, poets, Montaigne. The Rabelais contributions are stronger on individual view­ point than on original material; Raymond La Charité discusses the “ alimentary design” of Pantagruel; Tom Conley, the cartography of G 33; Terence Cave, the reading of signs, and in particular the death of Guillaume Du Bellay; Marcel Tetel, the physetère of the Quart Livre; and Michel Jeanneret, the general question of monsters. Some theories expounded here seem to me untenable, but all are lively and worth pondering. 102 Su m m e r 1995 Bo o k R...