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BOOK ILLUSTRATION Picturing the Text: Authorial Direction of Illustration in Eighteenth-Century French Fiction Nicholas Cronk Je sais bien que ce n'est pas un grand mérite de parler aux yeux.1 Voltaire L'impression de la parole est toujours foible et l'on parle au cœur par les yeux bien mieux que par les oreilles.2 Rousseau Bibliophiles have long regarded eighteenth-century French illustrated books as among the most beautiful ever produced; and literary critics have focused on the text-image relationship in one or two specific novels, notably Manon Lescaut and Julie, ou La Nouvelle Hêloïse. But there is no book-length study of the question of illustration relating to the eighteenth-century French novel,3 and critical editions of these novels have most often ignored the matter of illus1 "Épître dédicatoire," Tancrède, Œuvres complètes de Voltaire, éd. L. Moland (Paris, 1877-85), 5:496. 2 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, Œuvres complètes (Paris: Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 1969), 4:645. 3 For the seventeenth century, however, see Diane Canivet, L'Illustration de lapoésie el du roman français au xwf siècle (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1957); a study of the French eighteenth-century illustrated novel by Christophe Martin is forthcoming. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION, Volume 14, Numbers 3-4, April-July 2002 394EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION tration as extraneous.4 The two recent critical editions of Crébillon's La Nuit et le moment, first published in 1755 with six unsigned plates, are revealing of the uncertainty of (some) modern critical practice: the edition of the novel which appears in a Pléiade volume devoted to libertine fiction includes reproductions of all the plates, together with an informative commentary;5 on the other hand, the edition which appears in the complete critical edition of Crébillon's fiction currently being published by Gamier omits the illustrations and even describes them misleadingly.6 The problem persists ofwhether we ought to categorize illustrations, as Gérard Genette does, alongside marginal notes, epigraphs, and prefaces as part ofwhat he calls the "paratexte," which he contrasts with "le texte proprement dit,"7 or whether we ought in the case ofsome books to accord illustration a more central function and position. Don McKenzie underlines the need for an historical approach to the study of the livre-objet: We must seek a fuller understanding of those historical decisions made by authors , designers and craftsmen in deploying the many visual and even tactile languages of the book form to help direct their readers' responses to the verbal language of the text.8 In the context of this call for an integrated reading of the book, the present essay will describe how illustration of French fiction becomes increasingly common in the eighteenth century, and show that in the latter third of the century especially, in the period stretch4 See, for example, the otherwise excellent edition ofJacques Cazotte's Le Diable amoureux by Annalisa Bottacin (Milan: Cisalpino-Goliardica, 1983), which details the most minor textual variants, but omits altogether the plates of the first edition, without which the "Avis de l'éditeur" (pp. 43-46) is meaningless. The excellent Bibliographie du genre romanesque français: 1751-1800 (London: Mansell, 1977) by Angus Martin, Vivienne G. Mylne, and Richard Frautschi makes no mention of illustration in its descriptions. 5 Romanciers libertins du XVIIIe siècle, ed. Patrick Wald Lasowski (Paris: Bibliothèque de la Pléiade , 2000); see the "Note sur les gravures," 1:1102-3. 6 Claude Crébillon, Œuvres complètes, ed. J. Sgard (Paris: Garnier, 1999-). The plates are inaccurately and dismissively described as "6 gravures sur bois naïves" (2:755); they are in fact not woodcuts, and far from naive: see the commentary by Philip Stewart, Engraven Desire: Eros, Image and Text in the French Eighteenth Century (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992), p. 283. 7 Gérard Genette, Palimpsestes: la littérature au second degré (Paris: Seuil, 1982), p. 9. 8 D.F. McKenzie, "Typography and Meaning: The Case of William Congreve," Buch und Buchhandel in Europa im achtzehntenJahrhundert, ed. G. Barber and B. Fabian (Hamburg: Hauswedell, 1981), 81...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0243
Print ISSN
0840-6286
Pages
pp. 391-414
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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