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Reviewed by:
  • Les Poètes français de la Renaissance et leurs ‘libraires’: actes du Colloque international de l’Université d’Orléans (5–7 juin 2013) ed. par Denis Bjaï et François Rouget
  • Emma Herdman
Les Poètes français de la Renaissance et leurs ‘libraires’: actes du Colloque international de l’Université d’Orléans (5–7 juin 2013). Édités par Denis Bjaï et François Rouget. (Cahiers d’Humanisme et Renaissance, 122.) Genève: Droz, 2015. 549 pp, ill.

The twenty-one essays in this volume focus on aspects of the relationship between poets and publishers in early modern France. This relationship is sometimes professional: Emmanuel Buron suggests that the liminary pieces composed by Étienne Jodelle in praise of other poets’ collections of verse reflect his cordial relationship with the publisher rather [End Page 590] than with the poet. This is not the only example of cordiality in the relationship between poets and publishers: Élise Rajchenbach-Teller analyses Charles Fontaine’s refreshing respect for—and recognition of—the work done by publishers and printers in his verse. In contrast, the more critical side of that same relationship is suggested by Max Engammare, who details Théodore de Bèze’s complaints to Henri Estienne concerning the typographical errors in his Poemata of 1569, and the enduring effects of this (justified, but nonetheless pernickety) criticism on their professional and personal relationship. The relationship between poets and publishers emerges at times as strategic: while Jean Balsamo questions the concept that early modern publishers could afford the luxury of an identifiable editorial policy, Christine Bénévent engagingly considers the strategic decisions that seem to underlie Auger Gaillard’s various choices of publisher for his (appropriately gaillard) ribald Occitan verse, and Philippe Desan examines the editorial strategies through which Montaigne transforms La Boétie’s posthumous literary reputation into that of a poet rather than that of an obscure writer of political tracts. The relationship may, however, also be litigious—or, at least, potentially so: Michèle Clément traces the development of the privilège system, which marks the origins of intellectual property and literary copyright; the protection (and authority) that this licence variously affords to poets or to publishers is a recurrent theme in the volume, for example in François Rouget’s account of Philippe Desportes, who successively entrusted his personal privilège to a range of different publishers. Such discussions of privilèges or of liminary verses are indicative of the volume’s interest in all the practical details that contribute to making up an early modern book, further reflected in the assessments of typographical innovation in the essays by Isabelle Pantin and Geneviève Guilleminot-Chrétien. Such pragmatic considerations are readily adduced as evidence for recent literary debates: if Mireille Huchon cites Jean de Tournes’s publishing practices (presented as involving embellishment to the point of literary fabrication) to cast doubt on the poetic identities of Louise Labé and Pernette du Guillet, Clément is equally able to rely on the workings of the privilège system to reject claims of a literary hoax. Overall, this clearly edited and well-presented volume covers both the expected areas (printing in the publishing centres of Paris and Lyon; the publishing of poetry by humanists, Protestants, and the Pléiade) and some more peripheral subjects, including various provincial publishing industries and poetry by less-known poets. It richly demonstrates the variety of approaches to scholarly study of the history of the book, and hints at the wide range of applications for the fruits of such research.

Emma Herdman
University of St Andrews


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pp. 590-591
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