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Observations on the Text of the Histoires des amans fortunez

  • Donald Stone (a1)

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In any discussion of Marguerite de Navarre's Heptaméron, the first printing of her stories, a volume prepared by Pierre Boaistuau and entitled Histoires des amans fortunez (Paris, 1558), tends to receive slight as well as negative treatment. Mention of the Boaistuau text figures in only ten of the 866 notes appended by Michel François to his edition of the Heptaméron in the Classiques Gamier series. Of the 1558 volume Jourda wrote, "L'édition Gruget remplaça . . . l'édition Boaistuau. Elle reste la seule qui, malgré les critiques que Ton peut lui faire, mérite d'être consultée."

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1 Pierre Jourda, Marguerite d'Angoulême, duchesse i'Alençon, reine de Navarre 1492— 1549 (Paris, 1930), II, 659.

2 It is certain, for example, that François rarely checked textual reworkings in die Gruget edition against Boaistuau's text. In note 804 François remarks, “Le passage allant de Et ne povant demeurer à ilz arriverent a été omis par inadvertance dans G[ruget].” Not at all. The passage is already missing in Boaistuau, whom Gruget so often copies. Similarly, note 599 of die Francpis edition tells die reader: “Cl. Gruget, jugeant tout le passage trop osé, l'a modifie en partie.” In trudi, the passage, a portion of die devisants’ discussion after tale 41, had already appeared in its revised form in die Histoires. Gruget follows die Boaistuau edition, making a few furdier emendations. The same may be said of changes in Marguerite's text diat are cited from Gruget in notes 50, 92bis, 156, 171, 238, 284, 306, 307, 327, 443, 444, 453, 455, 473, 484, 664, 691, 694, 728MS, 744, 762, 770, 782, 788, 789.

3 Marguerite de Navarre, Nouvelles, ed. Yves Le Hir (Paris, 1967), p. xii. Delaruelle's remarks are made in his “Observations critiques sur le texte de l’Heptaméron” in Mélanges de philologie, d’histoire et de littérature offerts à Joseph Vianey (Paris, 1934), pp. 119-25.

4 Of some interest here is the fact that in two of the cases where Boaistuau's reading does not produce a variant, there is absolute conformity among François, Le Hir, and Boaistuau. The third instance of no variation in the Histoires finds Boaistuau using “territoires” where Delaruelle would prefer “transitoires” (the adjective used by MS. 1524) or “terrestres.” However, Huguet quotes from the writings of Gringore another appearance of the adjective “territoire,” which fully supports its use in the day with the meaning “terrestre.” In the two passages from Boaistuau where a variant is given, but one unlike the reading offered by Le Hir, one variant “quelques prestres” (f. 116) is very close to MS. 1524's “les prettres” (Le Hir, p. 330, 1. 31). Only once, then, does Boaistuau present a reading that is as questionable as the passages criticized by Delaruelle. For “Floride, qui, en le cuydant consoler, estoit sa desolation” (Francois, p. 71; also Le Hir's reading), Boaistuau prints: “Florinde qui en le consolant estoit en desolation” (f. 74^. Since the context strongly suggests that Floride's attentions disturb Arnadour, the Boaistuau reading is very suspect.

5 L'Heptamiron des Nouvelles, eds. MM. LeRoux de Lincy and de Montaiglon, 4 vols. (Paris, 1880), I, 184.

6 The alternate reading from Gruget given in note 98 does not appear in the copy of his version that we have consulted (A Paris, Pour Gilles Gilles, 1560 in 40). There, “honneur,” not “hommes” is printed, as it is in Boaistuau, François, and Le Hir.

7 In the variant “vous donneront des cornes de cheuvreul, vous leur en rendez de celles de cerf” (Le Hir, p. 32, 11. 20-22) the verb “donneront” also appears in Boaistuau (f. 15) but like Francois the Histoires gives “vous leur en donnez de cerf” (ibid.). The variant “il se teint trescontent” (Le Hir, p. 32, 11. 38—39) appears in Boaistuau as “il s'en tint trescontent” (f. 15).

8 In Le Hir's edition a period is placed after “tenebres,” and the ensuing words form, as in Boaistuau, the initial portion of the following sentence.

9 The phrases “avoir pas force” (François, p. 79) and “non que je sçaiche“ (Frangois, p. 145) appear as such in Morgan MS. 242 (f. 51v and f. 166), whereas Boaistuau and Le Hir print “avoir que par force” and “non que je ne scaiche“ (Boaistuau, f. 78, f. 36v; Le Hir, p. 74, 1. 38, p. 128, 1. 8).

10 In her recent study, L'Heptamiron de Marguerite de Navarre (Paris: SEDES, 1976) Nicole Cazauran underscores certain passages for which MS. 1524 offers, in her opinion, a more acceptable reading, without suggesting that it can be used to the exclusion of the other manuscripts of the tales (p. 28). A case in point: “Voyla, mes dames, que sans espargner nostre sexe, je veulx bien monstrer aux mariz qui scavent les femmes souvent de grand cueur sont plustost vaincues de l'ire de la vengeance, que de la douleur de l'amour” (Francois, p. 127). Cazauran's bewilderment at the syntax of this sentence is as understandable as is her preference for the version found in Le Hir: “Par cet exemple, mes Dames, j'ai bien voulu montrer aus marys, et sans epargner notre sexe, que souvent les femmes de grand cueur sont plus tot vincues de l'ire et de vengence que de la douceur et amour” (p. 114,11. 5—8). Yet here is Boaistuau's version: “Voila, mes dames, que sans espargner nostre sexe, j'ay bien voulu monstrer aux marys, pour leur faire entendre que les femmes de grand cueur sont plustost vaincues d'ire & vengeance, que de la douceur & amour” (ff. 28v-29). If we take the first “que” to be, as can happen in Middle French, the equivalent of “ce que,” the syntax here is firm, the meaning clear. Only examination of the remaining manuscripts can guide us toward an objective reason for preferring one reading over the other.

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