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B o o k R e v ie w s between morality and the dictates of her heart. After experiencing a bout with depression, Helisenne knows a renovatio-, her life takes on new luster when accepting her love as a joy and blessing, and this, despite the dictates of her religion. In so doing, feelings guide her pen, which now speaks openly and without the intellectual gloss and dross common to many writers of her day. For those interested in the “ Querelles des Femmes” which proclaimed a woman’s right to love, to be educated, and to have a career, while also striking out at the belief current in her day that woman is inferior to Man in the eyes of God, that she is lascivious and deceit­ ful, thereby continuing the usual Aristotelian mouthings which state that women are an “ aberration of nature,” will be pleasantly surprised by the courage, the verve, and original­ ity of Helisenne’s letters and the excitement Mustacchi’s and Archambault’s translation engenders in the mind of the reader. May I also add that the illustrations capture the mood of the period, thus further enhancing the impact of this fascinating volume. B e t t i n a L. K n a p p Hunter College and the Graduate Center o f CU N Y Bénigne Poissenot. L ’E s t e [1583], Edited and annotated by Gabriel-A. Pérouse and Michel Simonin. Geneva: Droz, 1987. This edition of Bénigne Poissenot’s L'Esté is the first complete version to appear since 1583. The work is particularly noteworthy for its relationship of narrative to frame. Its cornice-material depicts the summer wanderings of a trio of law students exploring the Languedoc and the Mediterranean coast. L ’E sté’s first-person narrator, who introduces the three escoliers, explains that the title refers both to the season when the events took place and to another summer when he composed the book. The notion of recreation is thus operative on several levels—in the young men’spromenades, in the stories they inspire, and in the pleasure generated by literary production. The frame-narrative enjoys a dynamic relationship to the tales, since the students’ adventures within the cornice directly inspire the stories they tell on each Journée. Boundaries between levels of narration are blurred; alternation between frame and narrative, narrative and narrative, is more fluid than in earlier French tale-collections. On one occasion, the students end their conversation arbitrarily, recognizing that “ il falloit imposer fin à tant de parolles qui, comme rejetions d’arbres, surjonnoient et renaissoient l’une de l’autre.” This verbal profusion marks the escoliers’ storytelling as well. Events they experience inspire them to mention similar situations from oral sources or from Plutarch, Cicero, Erasmus, Belleforest, Boaistuau, or Castiglione. From these brief allu­ sions, the students progress to longer histoires on the same theme. Their lengthier histoires often begin with one or two miniature narratives whose themes also anticipate that of the principal story. This technique refines and controls the late 16th-century encyclopedic impulse also characteristic of such compilateurs as Bouchet, Cholières or Tabourot; the changes in tale-lengths vary the narrative pace, supply greater forward momentum, and create a stronger sense of architectural unity. Poissenot’s wide-ranging allusions to historical events, folklore, proverbs, and classical and contemporary texts (literary, legal, historical and scientific) evoke the humanist’s quest for self-understanding and self-improvement. L ’E sté’s narrator claims, as have other 16thcentury authors, that he had been unable to consult the books to which he alluded, but here this assertion is more than a literary commonplace. Minimizing the authority of books and Vol. XXVIII, No. 2 97 L ’E s p r it C r é a t e u r privileging the vécu are gestures appropriate to these aestival rambles, during which the stu­ dents tell stories that relate their university-acquired knowledge to their direct experience of the world. Clearly, Poissenot agrees with Montaigne that “ Ce grand monde que les uns multiplient encore comme especes soubs un genre, c’est le miroüer où il nous faut regarder pour nous connoistre...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 97-98
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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