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Reviewed by:
  • Sotise à huit personnaiges [Le Nouveau Monde]
  • Cynthia J. Brown
Sotise à huit personnaiges [Le Nouveau Monde]. Édition critique par Olga Anna Duhl . Geneva, Droz, 2005. 344 pp.

Publicized as an 'édition critique', Olga Duhl's edition is based on the sixteenth-century publication of the Sotise (of which five copies still exist), printed in Paris around 1510–12 by Guillaume Eustache, and includes important rectifications of Emile Picot's 'corrections' of the play in his early twentieth-century edition. Through meticulous research, Duhl sheds new light on several thorny issues concerning the work's origins, authorship, generic status, socio-political framework and literary import. In her introduction and copious notes she skilfully uncovers an array of philosophical, theological, medical, historical and literary medieval concepts underpinning the Sotise's dramatic action. Duhl's suggestive analysis of the original edition's dedication woodcut, presented as a key to the text's hidden ironies, sets the stage for her elucidation of the contradictions embodied in the work. Arguing that this satire of the abuse of power by clerics, nobles, lawyers and merchants both contested and supported royal policies, Duhl outlines how textual allusions all but confirm its composition in Toulouse in the early months of 1507, at a time when the Parlement and University demanded the reactivation of the 1438 Pragmatic Sanction and opposed the appointment of the king's advisor, Georges d'Amboise, as papal legate. Yet, the very same Sotise appeared in print a few years later in Paris to muster support for Louis XII's campaign against Pope Julius II. Duhl convincingly argues as well that authors heretofore credited with the work (Jean Bouchet, Pierre Gringore, André de La Vigne) were too closely allied with the Court to have articulated its anti-royalist and anti-imperialist ideology, with the work's conservative pro-Gallican message conforming more closely to positions held in university circles. The play may well have been authored, or more likely compiled, by Blaise d'Auriol, a professor with a law background (thus linking him to the Basoche, long held to be the dramatic source of the Sotise). A review of the conflicting generic assessments of the work offered by modern scholars leads Duhl to define this multi-dimensional drama as a conscious amalgam of dramatic forms (sottie, morality play and mystery play) and poetic structures (especially the octosyllabic couplet and ballade) in all possible Rhétoriqueur-like combinations. With its denunciation of abuse 'safely' placed in the mouths of fools, the accompanying satire of the various Estates, professions and women, and its destruction of the old world (Le Monde) and allegorical reconstruction of the new (Le Nouveau Monde), doomed to failure, however, through its pillars of vice, the Sotise offers, according to Duhl, the first dramatic (albeit comic) example in French of utopian literature. Detailed sections on versification, grammar, lexicography and phonetics are complemented by a useful glossary, bibliography and index of names.

A comparison with the BnF Rés. Yf 2934 copy results in the following emendations to the edited text: 10 ne a, 91 pansee, 163 Maistre, 170 advocatz, 207 [End Page 265] vandre, 224 Vistes, 285 [farouge], 321 de, 382 n'entende[n]t, 382a b ii r, 490 Adviendra, 503 lesquieulx, 513 exeptes, 546 [P]our, 547 B v v (not at v. 546), 555 tempz, 558 mieulx, 563 acordast, 594 Le, 602 chacum, 663 mangea, 672 chancelÿer, 674 Tant, 683 des, 709 amuoingz, 718 Affroÿdisse, 721 Add c ii v, 729 l'aymes, 779 jamaiz, 811 vault, 839 [Et], 1003 rompuz, 1100a SOT DISSOLU (as speaker of vv. 1102–03), 1135 Mectez, 1165 de [s], 1180 mye, 1201 Escoute, 1265 Celluy, 1298 es ras, 1316 Chacum, 1360 Entire line spoken by Sotte Folle, 1369 murtre, 1370 varre, 1387 souffre[n]t, 1392 E ii r, 1431 quelcun, 1450 Seroi[en]t, 1478 abbat, 1507 vouldra, 1508 doibt, 1521 E v r, 1525...


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