Critical prefaces of the French Renaissance

By Bernard Weinberg | Go to book overview

PIERRE DE RONSARD
THIRD PREFACE TO La Franciade 1587

TEXT:

Les Qvatre Premiers Livres de la Franciade. Av roy tres-Chrestien, Charles nevfieme de ce nom. Par Pierre de Ronsard gentil-homme Vandomois. Tome III. A Paris, Chez Gabriel Buon, au cloz Bruneau, à l'enseigne S. Claude. 1587. Avec privilege dv roy. [B. N., Paris.]

[Cf. Brunet, IV, 1375 and 1384, and Supplément, II, 503; Tchemerzine, IX, 477; De Ricci, No. 79, p. 171. The text is reprinted in the 1592 and 1597 editions of the Œuvres, both of which are available at Harvard; but since the 1587 edition is itself posthumous, these later editions represent only printers' or editors' changes. This conclusion is borne out by a collation of the texts; the results of the collation are not given here.]

The date of composition of Ronsard's last preface to La Franciade is not known, except that it was between 1572 and the time of his death in 1585. Meanwhile, the epic had been reprinted in 1573, with only a short epistle "Au Lecteur," and in the complete works of 1584, with no prefatory material. D. B. Wyndham Lewis, in his Ronsard ( New York: Coward-McCann, 1944, p. 218), is of the opinion that the last preface was written "just before his death," and this seems to be a likely suggestion since it is known that at the time of his death Ronsard was at work on a revision of his writings. As in the case of the 1572 preface, that of 1587 has been reprinted in the major modern editions of the poet; some of the notes of the present edition are borrowed from Gustave Cohen's edition in the Œuvres complètes ( Paris: Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 1938, II, 1018-34).


[A iij] PREFACE SUR LA FRANCIADE, TOUCHANT LE POËME HEROÏQUE
AU LECTEUR APPRENTIF

Carmen reprehendite quod non
Multa dies et multa litura coercuit, atque
Perfectum decies non castigavit ad unguem
.a

Il ne faut t'esmerveiller, lecteur, de quoy je n'ay composé ma Franciade en vers Alexandrins, qu'autrefois en ma jeunesse, par ignorance, je pensois tenir en nostre langue le rang des carmes heroiques, encores qu'ils respondent plus aux senaires des tragiques qu'aux magnanimes vers d'Homere et de Virgile, les estimant pour lors plus convenables aux

____________________
a
Horace, Ars poetica, ll. 292-94.

-253-

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