Critical prefaces of the French Renaissance

By Bernard Weinberg | Go to book overview

CHARLES ESTIENNE
PREFACE TO TERENCE'S Andria 1542

TEXT:

Premiere Comedie de Terence, intitvlee l'Andrie, Nouuellement traduicte de Latin en François, en faueur des bons espritz, studieux des antiques recreations. 1542. Auec priuilege. On les vend à Paris, en la rue neufue nostre Dame, à l'enseigne du Faulcheur, deuant saincte Geneuiefue des ardens, par Andry roffet. [Privilège dated "le xii. iour de Feburier Mil.v c. xli." Printer's device of Pierre Roffet at end. British Museum.]

[Cf. Brunet, III, 454-55.]

The "Epistre du translateur au lecteur" which Charles Estienne used as a preface to his translation of Terence's Andria was to have a long career as a preface to other works. But its original form was also its most complete and its most interesting form; subsequent versions were much shorter and considerably changed. For information on the second and later redactions, the reader is referred to the introductory note on Charles Estienne's "Preface to Les Abusez," pp. 135-38 below. On Estienne, see Erich Lau, Charles Estienne (Biographie und Bibliographie), Wertheim a. M.: Bechstein, 1930; Lau suggests Donatus, Horace, and Vitruvius as the sources of the epistle.


[ã ii] EPISTRE DU TRANSLATEUR AU LECTEUR, EN LAQUELLE EST DECLAIRÉE LA MANIERE QUE LES ANCIENS ONT OBSERVÉE EN LEURS COMEDIES

Pourautant que plusieurs me semblent beaucoup travaillez à entendre la raison et maniere des comedies anciennes, asçavoir comment elles se faisoient, et le lieu où elles se jouoient, et par quel moyen on en usoit; à ceste cause je vous ay bien en bref icy voulu declairer ce que j'en ay peu comprendre par les bons autheurs, et aussi par les vestiges qui restent au[a ii v]jourdhuy des choses antiques, tant au pays d'Italie comme en Provence et aultres lieux de la noble France. Et l'ay faict principalement afire que l'on prenne desormais quelque goust à l'autheur qui entre les anciens a esté tousjours estimé le bien eloquent et très excellent compositeur de comedies. Faulte duquel entendre, et la maniere qu'il avoit à bien disposer et ordonner le sens et la matiere dont il escripvoit, nostre vulgaire du jourdhuy est tumbé en telle ignorance et cecité, que ce qu'il faict pour le present en telles matieres ne sent riens moins que sa comedie.

Parquoy m'est aussi renu en fantaisie de traduyre et mettre en nostre langue vulgaire la premiere des comedies dudit Terence, seulement en prose,

-89-

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