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Reviewed by:
  • Satyres chrestiennes de la cuisine papale
  • Bernd Renner
Théodore de Bèze . Satyres chrestiennes de la cuisine papale. Ed. Charles-Antoine Chamay. Textes littéraires français 576. Geneva: Librairie Droz S. A., 2005. xcii + 224 pp. index. gloss. bibl. CHF 72. ISBN: 2-600-00923-X.

Charles-Antoine Chamay's critical edition of the Satyres chrestiennes de la cuisine papale is a valuable contribution to a number of aspects of Renaissance studies. The text not only merits study in its own right but also provides much [End Page 913] insight into the still-neglected field of pamphlet literature. Published in early 1560, on the eve of the long period of civil war in France, the Satyres chrestiennes constitute a telling counterpart to the 1593 Satyre ménippée that marks the last phase of these devastating wars. The year 1559 was pivotal for the Reformation movement, as the Guise brothers were enforcing increasingly radical repressive measures against the reformers soon after the death of Henri II on 10 July 1559. It is in this historical context that the Satyres chrestiennes are written. Furthermore, the text offers some pertinent insight into the development of the genre of satire, as it elucidates the transition from a satirical tradition heavily influenced by late medieval farce and sottie plays — which is illustrated in authors such as Pierre Gringore, Clément Marot, and the early François Rabelais — to a more syncretic satirical model that more thoroughly combines French sources and classical models. In this respect, the Satyres chrestiennes seem to elaborate on a trend that was first made prominent in Rabelais's Third and Fourth Books.

In fact, the text continues a tradition that can be traced back to Pierre Lizet's 1551 anti-Calvinist treatise Adversum pseudo evangelicam haeresim, a text that was ridiculed in Théodore de Bèze's 1553 Epistola Magistri Benedicti Passavantii. What seems most remarkable about the Satyres chrestiennes is the absence of theological justification and arguments that usually constitute the basis of such pamphlets. Instead, the religious battle is supported by a style and a language in which "the word is king" (xiii), a strategy that was common in late medieval satire as well in the poetry of the "Grands Rhétoriqueurs." This "lexical creativity" (xlii) is at the service of the text's main objective: to decipher, reveal, and unveil, with laughter, the superstitions and folly that govern the world. With the possible exception of Pierre Lizet, the abbot of Saint-Victor and former president of the Parisian Parlement, individuals are not at the center of the satire. Instead, the satire focuses on overarching ideas and organizations (often designated as "pots aux roses": see, for example, Clément Marot's second coq-à-l'áne), an attempt at more general criticism that characterized the more elegant satire from the second third of the century and acted as a counterpart to the farce's and the sottie's usually straightforward ad hominem attacks: "ruiner le tout, et cuisine, et maison" (7), as the author defines his project in the preface. Despite its more general nature, such phrases underline the violence of a satire that is heavily marked by Juvenalesque indignation. Such examples of hybridity — in addition to sources and tone, we also observe mixture of genres and languages — place the text more firmly in the domain of syncretic Renaissance satire.

The text itself, which Chamay aptly describes as a "satirico-culinary allegory" that exploits the topos of the mundus inversus (xxxv), is a visual reminder of hybridity due to marginal glosses in French and Latin to the left and the right of the main text. The Satyres are divided into two liminary texts ("Aux caphars" and "Au lecteur") and eight satires in octaves, which proceed coherently from general comments about the kitchen and the building to the gardens and entrance, the officers and gentlemen of the kitchen and its utensils, the actual papal banquet, the banquet of papal penance, the after-dinner talk, and a brawl instigated by the [End Page 914] cooks. Six short poems function as a sort of conclusion: four octaves, a rondeau in decasyllables, and a dizain.

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pp. 913-915
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