Critical prefaces of the French Renaissance

By Bernard Weinberg | Go to book overview

CHARLES ESTIENNE
PREFACE TO Les Abusez
1548

TEXT:

Les Abvsez. Comedie faite à la mode des anciens Comiques, premierement composée en langue Tuscane, par les professeurs de l'Academie Senoise, & nommée Intronati, depuys traduite en Françoys par Charles Estienne, & nouuellement reueuë & corrigée. A Paris. Par Estienne Groulleau, demourant en la rue Neuue nostre Dame, à l'enseigne saint Ian Baptiste. 1548. [B.N., Paris.]

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

For his translation of the Comedia del Sacrificio degli Intronati da Siena, Charles Estienne reworked the preface written for his translation of Ter ence 's Andria (see above, pp. 89-103). The new preface probably appeared for the first time in the first edition of the translation from the Italian, then called Comédie du Sacrifice, published at Lyon in 1543; but Harold Walter Lawton , Térence en France au XVIe siècle ( Paris: Jouve, 1926, p.488), was able to find no copy of this rare volume, and I have not been more fortunate. If it did appear there, then the present preface to Les Abusez should really be dated 1543 rather than 1548. The new preface was essentially a rewriting, introducing many new ideas and omitting many of the old; only a few passages represent literal transcriptions from the original version, and I omit them from the text given below. Les Abusez went through two later editions, in 1549 and 1556. Later still, the first seven of the original ten paragraphs of the preface were published with a collection of Six Comédies de Térence, Antwerp, 1566 and Paris, 1572, 1574, and 1578. On the history of these various editions of the preface, consult Harold Walter Lawton's "Charles Estienne et le théâtre," Revue du seizième siècle, XIV ( 1927), 336-47; on its influence on Jean de la Taille, see my "Charles Estienne and Jean de la Taille," Modern Language Notes, LXI ( 1946), 262-65.


[A ij] EPISTRE DU TRADUCTEUR À MONSEIGNEUR LE DAUPHIN DE FRANCE, DECLARATIVE DE LA MANIERE QUE TENOIENT LES ANCIENS TANT À LA COMPOSITION DU JEU QU'À L'APAREIL DE LEURS COMEDIES

Je ne puis assez louër, monseigneur, la coustume des anciens en leurs comedies qu'ilz apelloient nouvelles, et la façon de disposer et poursuyvre leur sens et argument en icelles pour donner recreation aux auditeurs; laquelle maniere, si jusques à nous ce jourd'huy estoit parvenue, je ne croy point que ne fussions aussi heureux en ce cas qu'ilz estoient, consideré

-135-

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