Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Le Mystere De la Sainte Resurrection

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Le Mystere De la Sainte Resurrection

Article excerpt

Le Mystere de la Sainte Rsurrction (Angers 1456), edition critique par Pierre Servet, Textes litteraires 435 (Geneva: Droz, 1993). 2 vols. 686 + 319 pp. No ISBN given. F. Fr. 585.00.

This particular Resurrection play was commissioned by Rene d'Anjou and performed in Angers on 29-3I May 1456. Consisting of three days and a total of almost 20,00 lines, it has survived in three slightly different versions. Pierre Server has produced the first, and no doubt definitive, critical edition of this major text. By using a slightly smaller font than usual - though it is easily readable - Droz have not only published the complete text, but also allowed Servet 150 pages for the essential critical apparatus: an introduction (description of manuscripts, language, versification, a literary and dramaturgical analysis) and three glossaries (dramatis personae, proper names, lexical). Both publisher and editor deserve full credit for completing this major undertaking in such a professional manner. The following observations, developing one or two special points of interest, do not detract from my extremely favourable view of this edition.

The Angers Resurrection play poses a number of different problems. The most important focus on the three surviving witnesses and on the staging (there are large numbers of detailed stage directions). Servet's careful comparative study of the two manuscripts and of the printed edition leads to the conclusion that the manuscript used at Angers in 1456 (X, now lost) was copied shortly after the performance (= MS A, Chantilly 632, the basis of Servet's edition), and that thirty-five years later X was copied again for a new performance (= MS B, Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, fr. 972) and then printed by the Parisian publisher Verard in about 1491-2. This is a plausible solution, but Servet could have made it even more convincing by taking account of the distinctive typology of play manuscripts. It is somewhat misleading to talk about the `manuscrit archetype' when dealing with mystery plays. MSS A and B are not examples of a producer's `fair copy' (i.e. the livre original or the registre, a manuscript copied up before the performance), but of manuscripts written after a performance; these two sorts of manuscript have very different functions. …

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