Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Reverse Transmutations: Béroalde de Vervilles Parody of Paracelsus in Le Moyen de parvenir: An Alchemical Language of Skepticism in the French Baroque*

  • Michael J. Giordano (a1)

Abstract

This essay analyzes the skeptical ideas of one of the most notorious works of the French Baroque, Le Moyen de parvenir. Its author, Béroalde de Verville, described his anti-novel as "une Satyre universelle," and one of his noteworthy accomplishments was to provide his troubled age with a relatively complete and innovative skeptical language based on both esoteric and exoteric alchemy. Conceiving of his text as a critical athanor, Béroalde conducts numerous experiments in transmutation that would turn Paracelsus' concepts into a kind of prima materia. Out of this reversion to the primordial emerges a general critique of ideas and social institutions through such alchemical notions as prime and ultimate matter, quintessence, astrosophy, the arcanum, the Archeus, and the Cagastrum.

Copyright

Footnotes

Hide All
*

I would like to offer my heartfelt gratitude to my colleague Arthur F. Marotti who read the manuscript twice and offered patient and perceptive criticisms of earlier versions of this essay. I also thank Charles Stivale for his indispensable comments, and corrections and Lyndy Abraham for generously sharing her considerable knowledge of alchemical sources. I would also like to express my debt to the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library for permitting me to consult Beroalde's works and to Kathleen Perry for encouraging me to embark on this investigation. Finally, I very much appreciate the comments of the two anonymous readers whose care and concern resulted in a much-improved final product. Any errors or shortcomings are strictly my own responsibility.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Abraham, Lyndy. 1998. A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery. Cambridge.
Abraham, Lyndy. Alcbimie et philosophic a la Renaissance: Actcs du Colloque International de Tours 1991. 1993. Eds. Jean-Claude Margolin and Sylvain Marton. Paris.
Anderson, Judirh. 2001. “Language and Hisrory in rhe Reformation: Cranmer, Gardiner, and the Words of Institution.” Renaissance Quarterly 54, 1:2051.
Bamforth, Stephen. 1979. “Beroalde de Verville and the Questions of Scientific Poetry.” Renaissance and Modern Studies 23:107-08.
Bamforth, Stephen. 1996. “Autour Du Manuscrit 516 Du Wellcome Institute De Londres: Quelques Reflexions Stir Beroalde de Verville, Medecin et Alchimiste.” In Beroalde de Verville: 1556-1626 Cahiers V.-L. Saulnier, 13:5152. Paris.
Bamforth, Stephen. Biblia Sacra luxta Latinam Vulgatam Versionem AdCodicum Fidem, lussu Pii pp. XI. 1926-87. 17 vols. Rome.
Bowen, Barbara. 1982. “Beroalde de Verville and the Self-Destructing Book.” In Studies in French Medieval and Renaissance Literature in Honor of Barbara M. Craig, ed. N. Lacey and J. Nash, 163-77. Columbia, SC.
Bowen, Barbara. 1983. “Le Moyen deparvenir: The Name of the Game.” In Words and the Man in French Renaissance Literature, 110-29. Lexington, KY.
Bowen, Barbara. 2000. “'II faut donner dedans': sex ou/et rhetorique dans le Moyen de parvenir.“ In A French Forum: Melanges de litteraturefancaise offerts a Raymond C. et Virginie A. La Charite. Ed. Gerard Defaux and Jerry Nash, 107-14. Paris.
Braun, Lucien. 1993. “Paracelse et l'Alchimie.” In Alchimie et philosophic 205-13.
Calvin, Jean. 1961. Institution de la religion chrestienne (1560). Ed. Jean-Daniel Benoit. 5 Vols. Paris.
Conley, Tom. 1992. “Mapping Beroalde: Between Le Palais des curieux and Le Moyen de parvenir.” In Studies on Beroalde de Verville, 83-107.
Cotgrave, Randle. 1950. A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues. Facsimile. Reprint of 1611 ed. Columbia, SC.
Cusanus, Nicolaus. 1913. De docta ignorantia libri tres. Ed. Paolo Rotta. Bari.
Debus, Allen G. 1977. The Chemical Philosophy: Paracelsian Science and Medicine in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. New York.
Debus, Allen G. 1978. Man and Nature in the Renaissance. Cambridge.
Dubois, Claude-Gilbert. 1973. Le Baroque: Profondeurs de I'Apparence. Paris.
Farrell, Mary. 1983. “The Alchemy of Rabelais’ Marrow Bone.” Modern Language Studies 13:97104.
Genette, Gerard. 1972. Figures III. Paris. Trans. Jane E. Lewin. Narrative Discourse 1980. Ithaca.
Giordano, Michael J. 1992. “Transgression and Castration in Le Moyen de parvenir: A Reading of ‘Chapitre General’ (1:29).” In Studies on Beroalde de Verville, 109-38.
Giordano, Michael J. and Pallister, Janis. 1981. Beroalde de Verville: ‘Le Moyen de parvenir,’ Bibliographic Notes. Tubingen.
Holmyard, E.J. 1990. Alchemy. New York.
Huguet, Edmond. 1925-67. Dictionnaire de la languefrancaise du XVIe siecle. 7 vols. Paris.
Hutin, Serge. 1995. L'Alchimie. Paris.
Jeanneret, Michel. 1997. Perpetuum mobile: metamorphoses des corps et des oeuvres de Vinci a Montaigne. Paris.
Jung, C.G. 1967'. Alchemical Studies. Trans. R.F.C. Hull. Princeton.
Jung, C.G.. 1968. Psychology and Alchemy. Trans. R.EC. Hull. Princeton.
Kenny, Neil. 1987. “Satire, parodie et philosophic chez Beroalde de Verville.” In Burlesque et formes parodiques: Actes du Colloque du Mans 1986, eds. Isabelle Landy-Houillon and Maurice Menard, 231-47. Paris and Seartle.
Kenny, Neil. 1989. “From Poetry to Prose: Beroalde de Verville and Philosophical Writing.” Renaissance Studies 3:2:178-92.
Kenny, Neil. 1991. The Palace of Secrets: Beroalde de Verville and Renaissance Conceptions of Knowledge. Oxford.
Kenny, Neil. 1992. “The Earliest Known Edition of Le Moyen de parvenir.” In Studies on Beroalde de Verville, 21-33.
Kenny, Neil. 1996. “Car le nom mesme de liberalite sonne liberte: Les contextes sociaux et economiques du savoir chez Beroalde de Verville.” In Beroalde de Verville: 1556-1626 Cahiers, V.-L Saulnier, 13:724. Paris.
Livet, Geroges. 1966. Les Guerres de religion: 1559-1598. Paris.
Koyre, Alexandre. 1955. Mystiques, Spirituels, Alchimistes du XVle siecle. Paris.
Locey, Lenita, Locey, Michael and Pallister, Janis. 1987. “The Last Days of Beroalde de Verville.” Symposium 41, 1:4266.
Locey, Lenita, Locey, Michael and Pallister, Janis. 1989. Guillaume Colletet: Vie des poetes tourangeaux. Paris.
Losse, Deborah N. 1994. Sampling the Book: Renaissance Prologues and French ‘Conteurs.Lewisburg, PA.
Marquet, Jean-Francois. 1978. “Beroalde de Verville et le roman alchimique.” Dixseptieme siecle. 120:157-70.
Martin, Jean. 1994. Le Songe de Poliphile. Ed. and trans. Gilles Polizzi. Paris. Polizzis modern French translation of Jean Martin's Discours du Songe de Poliphile (Paris: 1546), itself a translation of Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. 1499. Venice.
Mathieu-Castellani, Gisele. ed. 1990. Anthologie de la poe'sie amoureuse de I'age baroque: 1570-1640: vingt poetes manieristes et baroques. Paris.
Mathieu-Castellani, Gisele. 1992. “Eros iurieux: la rhetorique baroque des Souspirs amoureux.” In Studies on Beroalde de Verville, 5-19.
Mathieu-Castellani, Gisele. 1995. “'J'ai songe que j'etais un autre. ‘: Les songes de Beroalde de Verville dans Le Palais des curieux.” Litteratures Classiques 25:4555.
McFarland, Douglas. 1993. “Abstracting the Essence: Rabelais and Alchemy.” In Rabelais in Context, ed. Barbara Bowen, 91-100. Birmingham, AL.
Montaigne, Michel de. 1962. Essais. Ed. Maurice Rat. 2 vols. Paris.
Montaigne, Michel de. 1957. The Complete Essays of Montaigne. Trans. Donald M. Frame. Stanford.
Pagel, Walter. 1960. “Paracelsus and the Neoplatonic and Gnostic Tradition.” Ambix: The journal of the Society for the Study of Alchemy and Early Chemistry 8:3:125-66.
Pagel, Walter. 1961. “The Prime Matter of Paracelsus.” Ambix: The Journal ofthe Society for the Study of Alchemy and Early Chemistry 9:3:117-35.
Pagel, Walter. 1982. Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance. Basel.
Pallister, Janis. 1971. The World View of Beroalde de Verville Expressed Through Satirical Baroque Style in ‘Le Moyen de parvenir.‘ Paris.
Pallister, Janis. 1981. “Skepticism and Medicine in Le Moyen de parvenir.” Dalhousie French Studies 3:3145.
Pallister, Janis. 1992. “The Spanish Connection, or How to Succeed in Understanding rhe ‘Universal Satire’ in Le Moyen de parvenir.“ In Studies on Beroalde de Verville, 4382.
Paracelsus, (Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim). 1976. The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus. Ed. and trans. Arthur Edward Wake. 2 vols. Berkeley, vol. 1, Hermetic Chemistry; vol. 2, Hermetic Medicine and Hermetic Philosophy. 1894. Reprint, London.
Pernety, A.-J. 1971. Dictionnaire mythohermitique dans lequel on trouve les allegories abuleuses des poetes, les mitaphores, les e'nigmes et les termes harbares des philosophes hermetiques expliques. Reprint. 1758. Milan.
Polizzi, Gilles. 1993. “La Fabrique de l'enigme: lectures ‘alchimiques’ du Polyphile chez Gohory et Beroalde de Verville.” In Alchimie et philosophic 265-88.
Prince, Gerald. 1981. “Recit et texte dans Le Moyen de parvenir.” Neophilologus 65:15.
Prince, Gerald. 1987. A Dictionary ofNarratology. Lincoln, NE.
Pugh Meyer, Judith. 1996. Reformation in La Rochelle: Tradition and Change in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1568. Geneva.
Rabelais, Francois. Oeuvres completes. Ed. Pierre Jourda. 2 vols. Paris.
Renaud, Michel. 1984. Pour une lecture du ‘Moyen de parvenir’ de Beroalde de Verville. Clermont-Ferrand.
Renaudet, Augustin. 1953. Prereforme et humanisme a Paris pendant les premieres guerres d'ltalie: 1494-1517. Paris.
Robbins, Kevin C. 1997. City On The Ocean Sea: La Rochelle, 1530-1650: Urban Society, Religion, and Politics on the French Atlantic Frontier. Leiden.
Ruska, J. ed. 1931. Turba Philosophorum. Berlin.
Russell, Daniel. 1985. The Emblem and Device in France. Lexington, KY.
Sainean, Lazare. 1927. Problemes litteraires du seizieme siecle. Paris.
Saulnier, Verdun. 1944. “Etude sur Beroalde de Verville: Introduction a la lecture du Moyen de parvenir. Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance. “ 5:209326.
Schmidt, Albert-Marie. 1967. Paracelse ou la force qui va. Paris.
Sherlock, F. 1948. “The Chemical Work of Paracelsus.” Ambix: The Journal for the Society of the Study of Alchemy and Early Chemistry 3:3363.
Schott, Heinze and Zinguer, Ilana. 1998. Paracelsus und seine Internationale Rezeption in derfriihen Neuzeit: Beitrdge zur GeschichtedesParacelsismus. Leiden. Studies on Beroalde de Verville. 1992. Ed. Michael J. Giordano. Tubingen.
Tournon, Andre. 1978. “La Composition facetieuse du Moyen de parvenir. “ Reforme, Humanisme, Renaissance: Bulletin de I'Association d'Etude sur I'Humanisme, la Reforme et la Renaissance 7:140-46.
Tournon, Andre. 1983. Montaigne: la glose et Vessai. Lyon.
Tournon, Andre. 1984. “Paracelse, L'Autre: change et piperie dans Le Moyen de parvenir de Beroalde de Verville.” In L'Lmaginaire du changement en France au XVle siecle, ed. Claude-Gilbert Dubois, 165-83. Bordeaux.
Tournon, Andre. 1987. “La Parodie de l'esoterisme dans Le Moyen de parvenir fe. Beroalde de Verville.” In Burlesque et formes parodiques, eds. Isabelle Landy-Houillon and Maurice Menard. 215-30. Tubingen.
Tournon, Andre. et al. 1991. “Epilogue.” In Histoire de la litterature francaise du XVle siecle, 283-85. Paris.
Tournon, Andre. 1994. “Le Maniement logique de l'illogisme de Montaigne a Verville.” In Logique et litterature a la Renaissance, ed. Marie-Luce Demonay- Launay, 219-34. Paris.
Verville, Beroalde de. 1583a. Les Apprehensions spirituelles. Paris.
Verville, Beroalde de. 1583a. Les Cognoissances necessaires. Paris (In Les Apprehensions).
Verville, Beroalde de. 1583c. Recherches de la pierre philosophale. Paris. (In Les Apprehensions).
Verville, Beroalde de. 1584. L'Ideedela republique. Paris.
Verville, Beroalde de. 1600. Le Tableau des riches inventions. Paris.
Verville, Beroalde de. 1610. L'Histoire veritable, ou le Voyage des princes fortunez. Paris.
Verville, Beroalde de. 1612. Le Palais des curieux. Paris.
Verville, Beroalde de. 1930. The Way to Succeed: A Work Containing the Reason of All That Was, Is and Shall Be, with Sundry Necessary Evidences and Proofs that Virtue Is Its Own Reward. Trans. Oliver Stoner. London.
Verville, Beroalde de. 1970. Beroalde de Verville: ‘Le Moyen deparvenir.’ Ed. Charles Royer. Geneva. Reprint. 1869. Paris.
Verville, Beroalde de. 1984a. Le Moyen deparvenir. Eds. Helene Moreau and Andre Tournon. Earliest known edition, n.d.
Verville, Beroalde de. 1984a. Le Moyen de parvenir (transcription of facsimile reprint into modern French). Ed. Helene Moreau and Andre Tournon. Aix-en-Provence.
Verville, Beroalde de. 1984a. Le Moyen de parvenir (transcription of facsimile reprint into modern French). Ed. Helene Moreau and Andre Tournon. Aix-en-Provence.
Verville, Beroalde de. 1985. Le Moyen de parvenir. Ed. liana Zinguer. Nice.
Verville, Beroalde de. 2001. L'Histoire des Vers qui filent la Soye. Ed. Michel Renaud. Paris. Vulgate: See Biblia sacra.
Vray, Nicole. 1999. La Rochelle et les protestants du XVIe au XX siecle. La Crèche.
Wallace, Nathaniel. 1994. “Architextual Poetics: The Hypfierotomachia and the Rise of the European Emblem.” Emblematica. 8:1:126.
Wendel, Francois. 1963. Calvin: The Origins and Development of His Religious Thought. Trans. Philip Mairet. New York.
Zinguer, liana. 1979. Structures Narratives du Moyen de parvenir.' Paris.
Zinguer, liana. 1984. “Alchemy, ‘Locus’ of Renewal for Writing in the Moyen de parvenir of Beroalde de Verville (1610).” Ambix: The Journal for the Society of the Study of Alchemy and Early Chemistry 31:Pt.1: 615.
Zinguer, liana. 1986. “Les Signes de la quete et la quete des signes ou Le Voyage des princes fortunes de Beroalde de Verville.” Oeuvres et critiques 11:1:93103.
Zinguer, liana. 1993. Le Roman steganamorphique: ‘Le Voyage des princes fortunez de Beroalde de Verville.Paris.
Zinguer, liana. 1996. “Beroalde Medecin.” In Beroalde de Verville: 1556-1626: Cahiers V.-L. Saulnier 13:2639. Paris.

Reverse Transmutations: Béroalde de Vervilles Parody of Paracelsus in Le Moyen de parvenir: An Alchemical Language of Skepticism in the French Baroque*

  • Michael J. Giordano (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed