Literature and Devotion in Early Modern France
Edited By Richard Maber and Joanna Barker
This volume offers a multidimensional exploration of the theme of time in early modern France: of time past, time present and time future, in literature and in life.
In poetry, the importance of past and future perspectives was studied by Maynard and La Fontaine. The dynamics of tragic drama were haunted by the past, driven by the urgency of the present and pervasively aware of the alternative futures that could be created, while in imaginative fiction there was a perennial fascination with possible future societies, Utopian or otherwise.
The awareness of transience and mortality gave urgency to the right ordering of life. The Church offered guidance to the pious for their days to be passed in disciplined devotion, while the moralists urged their worldly readers to redeem their misspent time and look to things eternal. At the end, the right ordering of death was both a social and a religious preoccupation.
The essays gathered here aim to stimulate an imaginative engagement with this important theme and open up avenues for future research.
Chapter 1: Time Sanctified: French Influence on Vernacular Prayer (Joanna M. Barker)
Joanna M. Barker 1 Time Sanctified: French Influence on Vernacular Prayer Abstract The advent of printing turned the Book of Hours from an expensive manuscript artefact to a bestseller among the Catholic laity. French printers were instrumental in supplying this market in the early sixteenth century, and had a particularly strong following in England. France welcomed Catholic exiles from England during the Tudor and Stuart eras, providing a home for the English College, first at Douai and later at Rheims. It was here that the first approved Catholic translation of the Bible into English was completed, providing the text used in dual-language Books of Hours, which were smuggled across the Channel for the use of recusant Catholics. In France, however, the resistance of the Sorbonne to French translations of Scripture meant that dual-language Books of Hours had to rely on Protestant Bibles. This chapter investigates the development of vernacular Books of Hours in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. When we think of Books of Hours, we are likely to envisage beautiful illu- minated manuscripts, unique artefacts, meticulously produced for royal or aristocratic patrons. But what is less known is that with the advent of printing, the Book of Hours became a best-seller. Between 1485 and 1530, more Books of Hours were printed than any other text, and the vast major- ity of these were printed in Paris. The most comprehensive catalogue of printed Books of Hours is still the one by Hans Bohatta published in 1924.1 It lists over 1,...
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