Critical prefaces of the French Renaissance

By Bernard Weinberg | Go to book overview

JEAN DE BEAUBREUIL
DEDICATION TO HIS Regulus
1582

TEXT:

Regvlvs, Tragedie Dressée sur vn faict des plus notables, qu'on puisse trouuer en toute l'Histoire Romaine. Par Iehan De Beavbrveil, Aduocat au Siege Presidial De Lymoges. A Lymoges. De L'Imprimerie de Hvgves Barbov. 1582. [B.N., Paris.]

[Cf. Brunet, I, 714-15.]

Various historians have cited the preface to Jean de Beaubreuil's Regulus as containing a highly interesting statement on the dramatic unities. Emile Faguet was the first of these: "Ce que j'y vois de plus intéressant est que l'auteur déclare dans sa préface avoir dû 's'affranchir de la règle superstitieuse des unités,' impossible à observer dans un Régulus" ( La Tragédie française au XVIe siècle, Paris, 1883, p. 317). The same statement is quoted from Faguet by J. Dedieu in his edition of Pierre Delaudun's Art poétique français (Toulouse, 1909), p. 164, and by W. F. Patterson in his Three Centuries of French Poetic Theory ( Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1935), I, 693. No such statement appears in the original volume, but there is a passage in the note "Au Lecteur" to which Faguet may be alluding. But Faguet's statement is an interpretation, not a quotation, of the original text, and it goes far beyond the implications of the original. Beaubreuil states a point of view very similar to that of Pierre Delaudun (see above, Introduction, p. 42). The note "Au Lecteur" is printed here for the information of the reader.


[Ai v] AU LECTEUR

Amy lecteur, d'autant que les noms propres des Romains et plusieurs aultres ont plus de grace en la poësie Françoise estantz francifiés que demeurantz en leur langue, c'est pourquoy au lieu de Attilius, Regulus, et Manlius j'ay mis Attilie et Manlie; de laquelle licence je n'use escrivant en prose, comme appert par l'inscription de ceste tragedie et par l'argument d'icelle. Toutesfois, la douceur du son nous guide le plus souvent en escripvant les noms anciens Grecz ou Romains.

Au demeurant, pour cause des longs intervalles des temps qui sont en l'histoire de Regulus, tu ne trouveras estrange si pour la mieux faire entendre j'ay voulu que les cinq actes (qui parfont la tragedie) ne fussent estroictement compassés à la forme de quelques tragiques trop superstitieux, qui ont pensé qu'il ne falloit representer en la tragedie aultre chose que ce qui se pouvoit faire en un jour. Car j'ay recognu (premier qu'y mettre la

-249-

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