Critical prefaces of the French Renaissance

By Bernard Weinberg | Go to book overview

JACQUES GRÉVIN
PREFACES IN THE Thẹ + ́âtre 1561

TEXT:

Le Theatre de Iaqves Grevin de Cler-mont en Beauuaisis, A Tresillvstre et Treshavlte Princesse Madame Clavde de France, Duchesse de Lorraine. Ensemble, La Seconde Partie de l'Olimpe et de la Gelodacrye. A Paris, Pour Vincent Sertenas, demeurant en la rue neuue nostre Dame, à l'enseigne sainct-Iehan l'Euangeliste, & en sa boutique au Palais, en la gallerie par ou on va à la Chancellerie. Et, Pour Guillaume Barbé rue sainct Iehan de Beauuais, deuant le Bellerophon. M.D.LXII. Avec Privilege. [ Chapin Library, Williams College.]

[The 1562 edition described above is identical with the first edition of 1561 except for the t.p. Cf. Brunet, II, 1737, and Tchemerzine, VI, 12. Also Cat. Rothschild, No. 711. Copies at the Arsenal and the British Museum.]

The four selections by Jacques Grévin reprinted here consist of the "Brief Discours pour l'intelligence de ce théâtre," which is a general introduction to all his dramatic writings; the preface "Au Lecteur," which is a special introduction to his two comedies; and the "Avant-jeux" or prologues to those two comedies, La Trésorière and Les Esbahis. These constitute most of his writings of critical interest. The dates of composition are unknown, except that La Trésorière was first played at the Collège de Beauvais on February 5, 1558 (= 1559 n.s.), and Les Esbahis at the same place on February 16, 1560 (= 1561 n.s.); it is probable that the other two prefaces were written especially for the publication of the Théâtre later in 1561. An additional selection which may have some critical value is the "Avis au lecteur" which appeared with a separate edition of his tragedy César, Paris: Nicolas Bonfons, 1578; this preface has apparently never been reprinted (cf. Brunet and Tchemerzine, loc. cit.).

There have been several modern editions of these prefaces. The preface to the two comedies and the "Avant-jeu" of La Trésorière were reprinted with that play in Auguis's Les Poètes françois depuis le XIIe siècle jusqu'a Malherbe ( Paris: Crapelet, 1824, V, 205-206, 207-209); the "Avant-jeu" to Les Esbahis with that comedy in Viollet Le Duc's Ancien Théâtre françois ( Paris: Jannet, 1855, IV, 227-29). All four were edited by Lucien Pinvert in his Théâtre complet et poésies choisies de Jacques Grévin ( Paris: Garnier, 1922, pp. 5-10, 49-50, 51-53, and 115-17); a few of my notes have been borrowed from this last edition. Biographical details on Grévin may be found in Pinvert's "Notice sur Grévin" in this edition (pp. v-xlvi) and in his Jacques Grévin ( 1538- 1570), Paris: Fontemoing, 1899. For a study

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