This essay studies the two sixteenth-century translations of Erasmus’ Praise of Folly: the anonymous De la Declamation des louenges de follie, printed in 1520, and Jean Thenaud’s translation of 1517, which survived in three manuscripts intended for the royal family. It examines their translation practices and use of sources, and it addresses questions of (co-)authorship, such as the possible identification of Georges Haloin as the translator of the Declamation and the role of François Rabelais in his friend Thenaud’s translation. Furthermore, this essay pays particular attention to the illustrations that appear in the printed editions of the 1520 translation, which were copied from the French editions of Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools.
The early-modern French translations of Erasmus’ Praise of Folly show an astonishing adaptability to its ever changing readerships. Much attention has been paid recently to the two sixteenth-century translations (1518 and 1520) and their intended readers—royal and bourgeois respectively. The three French translations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are less known but all the more intriguing. In 1642 Folly addresses herself to the French pre-classicist readers, adepts of Richelieu’s new Académie Française—although her translator, Hélie Poirier, was a Protestant refugee, recently settled in the Netherlands. In 1671 Folly seeks her readers in the Parisian salons, satirizing the same societal wrongs as her great contemporary Molière in Tartuffe and Les femmes savantes. The successful translation by Nicolas Gueudeville (22 editions from 1713 onward) is also a chameleon: originally translated and printed in Leiden, the text gradually becomes more Parisian with each passing edition. Folly’s language is bowdlerized according to the principles of bienséance, and Vianen’s illustrations, based on Holbein, are discarded as rude and old-fashioned. In 1751 they are replaced by Charles Eisen’s elegant, long-limbed, periwigged figures, dressed to the latest fashion. Although she changes her name (Moria/Stultitia—Dame Sottise—Dame Folie), her language (from humanist Latin to Parisian French), her appearance and attire (from Holbein to Eisen), Folly remains much the same through the ages—everlasting and omnipresent, just as the vices she laughs at.
Le présent article se propose d’étudier la série des fables qui ferment le Premier Recueil des Fables choisies (1668) de La Fontaine. Afin de contextualiser la pratique sérielle de La Fontaine, nous donnons un bref survol historique des pratiques sérielles dans les fabliers avant La Fontaine.