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Reviewed by:
  • Clément Marot et les métamorphoses de l’auteur à l’aube de Renaissance
  • David LaGuardia
Florian Preisig. Clément Marot et les métamorphoses de l’auteur à l’aube de Renaissance. Geneva: Droz, 2004.

Florian Preisig's important work on Marot and the nature of authorship at the beginnings of the French Renaissance bears the trademarks of the philological school epitomized by the great Gérard Defaux, whom the author acknowledges as his teacher and mentor on the book's first page. As such, the text is characterized by careful attention to archival sources, to what Preisig calls "paratextes" ("pages de titre, iconographie, pièces liminaires" [42]), to the immense secondary literature on the poet and his life, and to the two pillars of Renaissance scholarship, i.e., Evangelism and Humanism. In short, Clément Marot is a serious scholarly work that offers the reader important insights into the intellectual and material context in which Marot worked, and defends a comprehensive thesis concerning the development of the idea of the author during this crucial period.

Preisig begins by focusing on the multiplicity of Marot's literary discourse and on the protean character of the author who developed in conjunction with it. Preisig's explication of this thesis is convincing, especially in its description of Marot as an author situated between a medieval manuscript culture and the burgeoning book trade. Working among Humanists, Evangelicals, and "professionnels du livre" (18), Marot as author was able to provide a decisive impetus for the transformation of French letters by drawing on all of these sources, appealing to a diverse reading public. From this point of view, Preisig argues that Marot was a major figure who was able to transcribe medieval forms and genres in new ways, and to adapt new genres to the French vernacular. As Preisig expresses it, "on sait que Marot est à plus d'un titre un témoin et même un artisan décisif de cette révolution" (23) of the Renaissance's "conscience littéraire" or "personnalité littéraire" (24).

Preisig's genealogy of this conscience begins with an analysis of a nascent "corporatism" among the generation of poets that preceded Marot, that of the grands rhétoriqueurs. In contrast to them, however, [End Page 141] Marot exploited the new printing techniques to the full as part of the "respublica literaria" or "Gallia poetica" (45) that began to flourish in France during the reign of François I. In an interesting examination of the liminal texts that introduce the Adolescence Clémentine, Preisig describes the ways in which Marot's work constitutes both a new kind of poetic subjectivity, focused on the "I" of the poetic voice, and a new reader for printed poetic works, named as "le frère en poésie, voire le frère en religion" (53).

Preisig's second chapter examines the idea of authorial subjectivity that is developed in Marot's oeuvre, in an analysis that stresses both the revolutionary character of Marot's literary practice and its continuity with medieval poets such as Rutebeuf and Villon. Some of Preisig's most interesting remarks concern Marot's usage of his own name in his poetic works, in onomastic games that resulted in an astounding linguistic "transvestism" ("Marot" becomes "Marmot, Maraud, Marotte, Marotin, Marotus, Maromastique" [90]). The text also provides an interesting examination of the transition between a medieval conception of the acteur as he/she who acts in the text through writing and Marot's development of the auteur as a kind of living presence, with a malleable name and an autobiography that is traced as the work itself. The poet's creation of a "personnage qui porte son nom" (98) is one of the most remarkable characteristics of Marot's work, and is related by Preisig to Foucault's seminal text on the discursive structuring of an authorial position, leading Preisig to remark that Marot was "une figure pionnière de la modernité" (100). This modernity is, however, deeply rooted in the processes of imitatio and emulation that were at the core of the Renaissance, with Marot manipulating his textual persona in order both to accept and to refuse his...


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pp. 141-143
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