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Reviewed by:
  • Sone de Nansayéd. par Claude Lachet
  • Philip E. Bennett
Sone de Nansay. Édité par C laudeL achet. ( Classiques français du Moyen Âge, 175.) Paris: Honoré Champion, 2014. 987 pp.

Despite the intrinsic interest of this late-thirteenth-century roman d’aventures— which makes the hero Sone an ancestor of the Chevalier au cygne, with links to both the Crusade cycle of epic poems and the quest for the Holy Grail, leading him through adventures in Scotland, Norway, and the Mediterranean — Claude Lachet’s edition is the first since 1899. The reason is that the unique manuscript, Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria, MS LI 13, was severely damaged in the fire that devastated the library in 1904. Consequently much conservation work was needed on the manuscript, and a form of archaeological work needed from the editor before the edition could be undertaken. An idea of the problems involved is given by illustrations in Lachet’s Sone de Nansay et le roman d’aventures en vers au XIII esiècle((Paris: Honoré Champion, 1992), pp. 22–23). The Introduction to Lachet’s edition (pp. 11–140) is in some respects an abridgement of that work, although the earlier book does not contain any of the linguistic analysis given in the edition (pp. 28–64). This section works exclusively with the written forms of the manuscript, does not use rhyme or metre to establish any perceptible difference between authorial and scribal usage, and concentrates on describing north and north-eastern dialect features. The remainder of the Introduction considers the status of the author as an educated clerk in the service of a secular lord, seeks to establish the poem’s date of composition, gives a detailed résumé of the plot, and analyses Sonein its cultural and literary context in terms of the evolving literature of chivalry and courtoisie, of thirteenth-century romance and epic. The edition itself, which offers a clear and carefully presented text, shows very few signs of illegibility and reconstruction. This may partly be due, as indicated in the ‘Principes d’édition’ (p. 140), to Lachet’s use of Moritz Goldschmidt’s 1899 edition and of reviews of that work suggesting numerous corrections by Wendelin Foerster, Gaston Paris, and Adolf Tobler, all of whom were writing before the fire. The one clear indication of a lacuna is after line 18,007, at which point a quire is missing from the manuscript. However, Lachet chooses not to make an allowance in his line-numbering for the lacuna, but continues immediately at line 18,008. Rejected readings with the source of the corrections adopted are listed at the foot of each page. The notes also deal predominantly with linguistic and textual matters, drawing on the same set of references as the edition itself. There follows a list of proverbs and proverbial expressions found in the work, an index of proper names, and an extensive glossary. This is a highly competent edition of an interesting work. Scholars working on the various experimental ways in which French literature evolved in the thirteenth century will be grateful to Lachet for making it readily available once more.

Philip E. Bennett
University of Edinburgh


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