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Reviewed by:
  • Les Tragiques
  • Samuel Junod
Agrippa d' Aubigné . Les Tragiques. Champion Classiques Série "Littératures" 4. Ed. Jean-Raymond Fanlo. Paris: Honoré Champion Éditeur, 2006. 1120 pp. index. append. illus. tbls. chron. bibl. €25. ISBN: 2–7453–1475–0.

This book is a 2006 reprint of Jean-Raymond Fanlo's second edition of Les Tragiques (2003). The first edition, in 1995, was already an indispensable tool for accessing and interpreting Aubigné's masterpiece. This newly reprinted edition, conveniently bound for the first time in one single volume, is meant to be the edition of reference for a long time. Fanlo's edition is based on Aubigné's latest version of Les Tragiques, which can be found on twin manuscripts, copied at the very end of the author's life: Tronchin 158 (Geneva, Bibliothèque Publique et Universitaire) and Harley (London, British Library).

This new edition provides corrections to the previous one, but is also an ambitious update of Jean-Raymond Fanlo's ongoing researches on Agrippa d'Aubigné. I am focusing this review on the major changes and additions that [End Page 896] appear in the second edition. A brand-new chapter, "L'oeuvre dans son contexte," draws a more precise and informed picture of the historical, political, and religious context of the early seventeenth century, the period in which Aubigné wrote the major part of Les Tragiques. It shows that this work should not be read primarily through the perspective of Henri IV's politics of pacification, or as a representation of the religious wars of the past, but in light of a sense of urgency due to the return to power of the Medici, the decay of the Protestant party, and the fear of resurgent persecutions. As Fanlo states, "Les Tragiques écrivent le passé comme ils écrivent l' avenir jusqu'au Jugement dernier: au présent, et pour le présent" (132).

The amount of updates in this second edition is impressive. It takes into account the progress made in the knowledge of Aubigné's manuscript tradition. And using material philology, Fanlo interprets, for example, Tronchin 160 as a pedagogical volume. New documents and new readings of old documents settle the question of a possible second edition of Les Tragiques during Aubigné's life, showing that such an edition was highly improbable. Some works receive a new title (Traité sur la guerre civile), a new publication date (Lettre à Madame, 1600 or 1601), or are newly attributed to Aubigné (Instruction d'estat et advis salutaire, L'Italien François, Lettre au doge). Contrary to what was previously accepted, the Bible mainly used by the author is not the 1588 version but the one from 1567. More importantly, Fanlo demonstrates that the reference manuscripts, Tronchin 158 and Harley, do not copy directly the first printed edition (1616) but from a lost intermediate copy of the 1616 edition, called X. Thus, the text receives additional corrections in order to reflect more closely Tronchin 158 and Harley.

The notes and the introduction also add recent historical, philological, and critical contributions to the field (Banderier, De Certeau, Pot, Goyet). It also exploits newly discovered historical documents, newly identified sources, and newly deciphered historical allusions. Several notes have been rewritten, shortened, or eliminated, others have been amplified or corrected. Particularly noticeable is the significant number of new literary references that enlighten the understanding of Les Tragiques. They stem from Plato, Cicero, Virgil, Prudentius, and Aurelius Victor, to Calvin, Rabelais, Desportes, Duplessis-Mornay, and many others. Similarly, a better knowledge of Aubigné's edited and unedited works is reflected by the numerous intratextual footnotes, particularly those referring to the writings belonging to the last period of Aubigné's activity: Caducée, Michau, Italien François, political writings, Lettre au doge, Debvoir mutuel, Explication familiere, and so on.

The Fanlo edition, because of the remarkable scholarship it provides, is sure to become the reference edition of Aubigné's masterpiece. To be sure, as Fanlo himself states, le "chantier reste ouvert" (16), and the author's research will be complemented. Yet it opens remarkably stimulating avenues for interpreting Aubigné's work as "l'utopie d'un texte encyclopédique," the sum of all discourses, the...


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