'Le Bel Épy qui foisonne'

Collection and Translation in French Print Networks, 1476–1576

by Catherine Emerson (Volume editor)
©2019 Edited Collection VI, 142 Pages


This book brings together essays from scholars working on the first century of French print culture, with a particular focus on the networks formed by authors, editors, translators and printers in the earliest years of print technology. The volume is structured around the themes of collection and translation. The first part of the book examines the gathering of sources, the creation of anthologies and collections and the efforts of collectors to create a legacy. The second part deals with translation and the ways in which editors present a text to a new audience, either in a different language, as part of a different culture or through images that translate the text visually. Together, the essays raise important questions about early modern French culture, revealing how texts are the products both of the networks that create them and of those that distribute, read and interpret them after publication.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction (Catherine Emerson)
  • Part I: Collection
  • 1 Printing the Ties that Bind: Pierre de Changy’s Translation of the De institutione feminæ Christianæ by Juan Luis Vives (Pollie Bromilow)
  • Educating the Family in the Institution de la femme chrestienne
  • The Institution de la femme chrestienne from Manuscript to Print
  • Conclusion
  • 2 Configurer des réseaux par le recueil: le cas du Parnasse des Poëtes Françoys modernes de Corrozet (1571) (Nina Mueggler)
  • Des poètes en liste et en lice
  • Un ordre problématique
  • Entre désignations inégales et absences notables
  • Maurice Scève, auteur masqué
  • Gilles Corrozet, membre de la communauté
  • Conclusion
  • 3 Nicole Gilles and Literate Society (Catherine Emerson)
  • Part II: Translation
  • 4 La Merveilleuse et joyeuse vie de Esope de Glaude Luython: un fablier bilingue pour l’enseignement du français au Pays Bas (Antonella Amatuzzi)
  • Glaude Luython, les écoles et l’imprimerie dans la ville d’Anvers
  • Un ouvrage insolite, entre tradition et innovation
  • Comment traduire: cibiste d’abord, sourcier ensuite
  • Conclusions
  • 5 Connecting Texts via their Illustration in Parisian Early Printed Books (Louis-Gabriel Bonicoli)
  • Reuse in Medieval Art
  • Nothing New Around 1500
  • When Repetitions Did Not Bore Readers
  • Methodological Issues
  • Unwanted Connections
  • Unreadable Connections
  • Two Examples of Meaningful Reuses
  • The Danger of Being Beautiful
  • The Art of Reconciling Trojans with Gauls
  • Conclusion
  • 6 Un lieu de savoir sur le monde: la boutique de l’imprimeur-libraire Michel de Vascosan dans le Paris de la Renaissance (Oury Goldman)
  • Traduire les deux Indes chez Michel de Vascosan
  • Les navigations de Bembo et de Giovio
  • Quelle politique éditoriale?
  • L’atelier Vascosan
  • La boutique du libraire comme lieu de savoir
  • Index
  • Series index

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The chapters in this volume deal with the first century of printing in France and the networks that were formed during this period that enabled books to be published. These chapters have been divided into the broad categories of collection and translation and, on the face of it, these two categories would appear to address the question of the origins of texts and of their afterlife. Collection refers to the act of gathering together different elements, of anthologizing, synthesizing, gathering sources to make something that is greater than its constituent parts. Translation, on the other hand, seems to provide an answer to the question of what happens to a text after it first appears: how is it reinscribed and repackaged for new readers, either through linguistic transposition or physical presentation in a new setting. Subtending both concepts is the idea of growth, of development, which is also apparent in the quotation which gives this collection its title. The ‘bel épy qui foisonne’ could be a metaphor for the print trade itself, which rapidly grew into a powerful and wide-reaching industry during its first century in France. The image chimes with the horticultural metaphors used by Joachim Du Bellay to refer to the cultivation of French language and literature.1 It seems fitting that Du Bellay’s metaphor should be extended to printing, which after all is the vehicle of transmission for that language and literature. However, an examination of the quotation in its context shows that its author, Pierre Tamisier, is using the image of the ear of corn to describe the fecundity of the artist’s source material rather than the ← 1 | 2 → spread of the poet’s influence.2 The ear of corn that appears to be such a fitting image for the spread of the printed word is in fact used by Tamisier to illustrate the potential of what came before, the largely manuscript transmission that preceded print.

The potential multivalence of the image of the ear of corn points to the fact that the categories in this volume are not necessarily impermeable. Pollie Bromilow’s examination of Pierre de Changy’s translation of Juan Luis Vives’s De institutione feminæ Christianæ is an examination of how different sources were gathered together to create a family book, and the chapter opens the section dealing with collection, but it is also a study of how Vives’s text reached a different audience through translation into the vernacular. Similarly, Oury Goldman’s chapter, which closes the section on translation, describes how the translation of vernacular texts containing information about remote lands contributed to a project that collected texts and scholars in the workshop of Michel de Vascosan. These two contributions, which open and close the volume, are not polar opposites, but share many common concerns. Collection and translation are not such separate categories as the parts of this book might imply.

This is in itself a testimony to the expanding and changing world of French print networks in the first century of print. Social realities were changing as the print world developed, and the world of print responded to these changes. Each act of translation was also a new act of collection, a transformation of the text, certainly, but also a reappraisal of its sources. Goldman’s chapter describes one factor influencing social change as he shows some of the turmoil accompanying the religious reform movements of the sixteenth century and the networks that were created between men who shared an ideology. At the same time, Nina Mueggler describes the creation of a virtual sociability which brings together people from different ideo-logical positions in the pages of an anthology to try to portray an image of a France that goes beyond social divisions. Social change produces a range of responses in the world of print. So too does technological change. A number ← 2 | 3 → of chapters in this volume deal with the way that printed texts adopt the conventions of manuscript texts particularly in terms of layout on the page, but, as Catherine Emerson’s contribution suggests, manuscripts continued to be produced and they were also influenced by the layout of printed texts. Indeed, as Emerson reminds us, and as Bromilow also mentions, printed books and high-status manuscripts fulfilled similar social roles in the early years of print and so it is not surprising that we see physical characteristics of one being borrowed in the other. This is only one of the ways in which the chapters of this volume address the relationship between the physical mise en page of the book and the text. Antonella Amatuzzi draws our attention to the lexical choices suggested by the decision to present a translation in a facing-page text edition. The juxtaposition of French and Dutch favours the use of lexical forms that resemble each other as the bilingual text is intended to serve as a work of instruction for language learners. A number of contributions in this volume examine the ways in which texts are produced with educational goals in mind, whether this be the domestic and moral instruction of family members described in Pollie Bromilow’s account of Pierre de Changy’s translations, or the world of the Antwerp schools described by Amatuzzi, where the French language was the key to social advancement, or Michel de Vascosan’s specialist printing for the University of Paris, mentioned briefly by Oury Goldman. The examples in this volume remind us that education is not a single thing and that there are different educational uses of texts. It should also be remarked that, even once texts are translated for educational purposes, this translation does not define the way in which the texts are used by future readers. Amatuzzi provides details of a number of monolingual Dutch editions of Glaude Luython’s translations of Æsop, which presumably had different goals and different readers from the facing-page translations that had made up Luython’s original edition.

In this context, Louis-Gabriel Bonicoli’s discussion of meaningful reuse of images is relevant, in that it reminds us that reuse of an image can imply its reinterpretation or indeed can introduce a whole set of new associations simply by virtue of the fact that an image is being reused. Pollie Bromilow, Nina Mueggler and Catherine Emerson all discuss works that were published posthumously and discuss ways in which the text can escape the author’s original intention and have a new life after the author’s death. ← 3 | 4 → Bonicoli shows that this is true too of the more material elements of the text and that reuse of illustrations was not simply a matter of decorative expediency. Taken together, the contributions to this volume paint a picture of print networks that were diverse, dynamic and international. Many of the contributions talk about personal relationships between printers in different countries which facilitated the movement and translation of texts for the francophone market. Individually, each chapter gives us an insight into a particular feature of this world but together they demonstrate the vitality of the world itself.

Pollie Bromilow describes the collection of translations presented by Pierre de Changy to his children. The survival – and indeed the expansion – of this volume after Changy’s death is testimony not only to the dedication of Changy’s son Blaise and his recognition of his father’s contribution to the family, but also to the popularity of such anthologies amongst the reading public.

Nina Mueggler also writes about an anthology published by a son after the death of his father. In this case, Galiot Corrozet’s publication of Gilles Corrozet’s collection completed the work of the father whose aim had always been a print circulation. Mueggler examines the way in which the elder Corrozet selects the poets that he is going to publish, how he orders them in the list of contents and what details he omits – notably all mention of Lyon – in order to portray a particular sort of French literary society. Mueggler argues persuasively that Corrozet’s choices are not accidental but are part of a conscious effort to shape the definition of ‘les Modernes’ in terms of poetry.

Emerson looks at the multiple ways in which Nicole Gilles interacted with the print society of his time. Certainly the investor in a printing partnership and the author of a posthumous history, the purchaser, reader and anthologizer of books in his history, Gilles may also have been the adaptor of fictional texts for the Parisian market. Emerson examines the ways in which Gilles interacted with the literate world – which she points out is not simply the world of print – in ways that favoured the transmission of his text after his death.

Amatuzzi examines the translation of Æsop’s fables from Latin into French and then from French into Dutch for the Antwerp French-language ← 4 | 5 → schools. She reveals that the strategies for translating Latin, which would not appear on the page of the final edition, are very different from those used to translate French into Dutch, where both languages would be visible. Whereas Latin is glossed, amplified and abridged to produce a text which is less foreign to contemporary readers, Luython makes efforts to create close textual and linguistic parallels between the Dutch and French texts which will appear side by side.


VI, 142
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (December)
History of the Book France Print networks in France
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2019. VI, 242 pp

Biographical notes

Catherine Emerson (Volume editor)

Catherine Emerson worked at the University of Hull and Trinity College Dublin before becoming a lecturer in French at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her research focuses on the literature of the fifteenth-century Burgundian court and its transmission in the era of print. She is interested in the literature and culture of multilingual societies and has also published on Belgian cultural identities.


Title: 'Le Bel Épy qui foisonne'