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1579 Clement Marot Oeuvre French Renaissance Poetry Woodcuts Psalms Bible Ovid For Sale

1579 Clement Marot Oeuvre French Renaissance Poetry Woodcuts Psalms Bible Ovid

[Early Printing - Lyons] [Early Book illustrations - Bernard Salomon] [French Literature - Poetry - Renaissance] [French Reformation]
[Holy Bible - Psalms - French translations] [Ovid - Metamorphoses - French translations]

Printed by de Tournes, Lyon, 1579.
Text in French. Illustrated with woodcuts.
Two volumes bound in one.
VERY RARE! WorldCat locates only 2 copies of this edition in the US.

Réimpression soignée et sur bon papier de l'édition de 1573. [...] Cette édition mérite une place à part dans la série des réimpressions tournésiennes, dont elle représente le type complet et définitif." (Cartier)

A fine illustrated De Tournes printing of Clement Marot, one of the greatest poets of the French Renaissance, whose use of the forms and imagery of Latin poetry had marked influence on the style of his successors.

This elegant pocket-format edition is embellished with a fine portrait of Marot on the title-page and twenty-two charming woodcuts attributed to Bernard Salomon! The medallion-shaped portrait showing the poet in profile with a long beard (obviously depicted in his later years) is also attributed to Salomon. The example offered here has a particularly rare state of title-page bearing the letters "L. M. N. M." (indicating Marot's motto "La Mort n'y Mord") in the medallion portrait of the author, like in the 1573 edition, while Cartier calls for an unlettered medallion in this 1579 printing.

Of the 22 text illustrations, 14 are for the first book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, 7 for the second, and one for the History of Hero and Leander. These illustrations first appeared in the 1549 De Tournes edition of Marot's works. The 21 Ovid illustrations were incorporated into Salomon's celebrated series of woodcuts for the Métamorphose d'Ovide figurée (Lyons, De Tournes, 1557), which is considered one of the most beautiful illustrated books of sixteenth-century France.

The first volume includes Marot's original poetical works, while the second volume contains his most important literary translations, including his French rendering of the first two books of Ovid's Metamorphoses and, of course, Marot's influential French translation of fifty of the Psalms of David (Cinquante Psaumes), a truly exquisite work distinguished by their sober and solemn musicality. Along with Theodore de Bèze's translation of the remaining Psalms, Marot's Cinquante Psaumes became the Huguenot Psalter.

Also included are Marot's French translations of Musaeus' Hero & Leander, the first Eclogue of Virgil, six sonnets of Petrarca, etc.

Marot's poetical works are arranged by genres, comprising Opuscules, Elegies, Epistres, Ballades, Chants Divers, Rondeaux, Chansons, Epigrammes, Estrenes, Epitaphes, Cimetiere, Complaintes.

Among Marot's Epigrammes included in this edition is his famous erotic [Blason] du Beau Tetin ("Blason of The Beautiful Breast"). Written in 1536 during Marot's stay at the protestant-friendly court of Ferrara, this playful poem launched a whole new literary fashion - the so-called blason anatomique, a humorous and often rather risque verse describing, as a rule, some part of the female body in minute detail. The genre of blason found immediate popularity and was so widely imitated that it was possible to publish an anthology in 1555. The counter-blason Du Laid Tetin ("The Ugly Breast") is also included.

Marot added grace, elegance, and personal warmth to French light verse. Much of his achievement was temporarily eclipsed by La Pléiade, who dominated the literary scene for a period shortly after his death. They dismissed Marot's poetry as old-fashioned, mainly - of course - to promote themselves as the alternative. However, the influence of Marot was evident in England among the Elizabethans, notably Edmund Spenser, and was, to some extent, revived in France in the 17th century. But only in the late 20th century a revaluation of the "Prince des Poètes français" took place. He is now considered to be the first Renaissance poet in French literature and - based on his preference for translations - also as a Humanist who wanted to offer the texts of classical and biblical antiquity to the modern reader in his mother's tongue.

"Throughout the sixteenth century, French writing is conscious of its break with the "age of the Goths," as Francois Rabelais termed its scholastic past. Beginning with Marot's Adolescence clémentine, the French language also emerged from its medieval dialects to begin its evolution into a syntactically coherent language [...] Marot in particular profited from the slippage between oral and written forms to create a lighthearted berse defined by its play of words. Beginning in the 1520s, during the first wave of humanism, Marot practiced the homegrown genres of the ballad, rondel and song, whose levity made them pleasant to perform and whose natural rythms he raised to an art. Put another way, he achieved consummate "naturalness" by portraying romance without recourse to Greek and Roman mythology whose gods later elevated the Pléiade's verse to cosmic dimensions. Like Du Bellay and Ronsard, Marot defended the French language as a vehicle of poetic expression, whereas Latin was still thought by some humanists to be more nuanced and richer in its vocabulary.

With Marot, it may be said that modern French hit its stride by demonstrating how versatile French could be in its variety of genres, from the epistle, epigram, and elegy, to the lyrical rendition of the Psaumes in Marot's translation, by all estimation, one of the most exemplary uses of the French language." (Norman R. Shapiro, Lyrics of the French Renaissance: Marot, Du Bellay, Ronsard, p.2)

Clément Marot (1496—1544) was born in Cahors in south-western France. His father, Jean, was a poet and held a post at the court of Anne de Bretagne and later served Francis i. in 1514 Marot became page to Nicolas de Neufville, seigneur de Villeroi, secretary to the king. Wishing to follow in his father's footsteps by obtaining a place as court poet, he entered the service of Margaret of Angoulême, sister of Francis i and later queen of Navarre. On his father's death, he became valet de chambre to Francis i, a post he held, except for his years of exile (1534-36), until 1542.

Marot was arrested in 1526 for defying Lenten abstinence regulations, behaviour that put him under suspicion of being a Lutheran. A short imprisonment inspired some of his best-known works, especially L'Enfer ("The inferno"), an allegorical satire on justice, and an epistle to his friend Lyon Jamet (1526). in 1527 he was again imprisoned, this time for attacking a prison guard and freeing a prisoner; an epistle, addressed to the king and begging for his deliverance, won his release. in 1531 Marot was again arrested for eating meat during Lent, but this time he avoided imprisonment. By 1530 his fame had become firmly established, and his many poems seem to have enjoyed a wide circulation.

After the Affaire des Placards, when placards attacking the Mass were posted in the major cities and on the door of the king's bedchamber (1534), Marot fled to Navarre, where he was protected by Margaret. When persecution of the Protestants increased, he again fled, this time to the court of Renée de France in Ferrara, italy. Marot subsequently returned to Paris in 1537 after Francis i had stopped the persecutions.

When he was not engaged in writing the official poems that his duties at the French court compelled him to write, Marot spent most of his time translating the Psalms. Although the publication of the Psalms, successively in 1541 and 1543, was done with royal privilege, the Sorbonne continued its war against translations from the Bible into the vernacular, and so, of course, issued a condemnation of Marot's Psaumes. in 1543 it was evident that he could not rely on the protection of Francis. Marot accordingly fled to Geneva, where John Calvin, who greatly admired his translation of Psalms, gave Marot sanctuary. Marot's behaviour, however, was unacceptable to that strict and sober city, and he was forced to return to italy. He made his way to Piedmont and died at Turin in the autumn of 1544, and was buried in the Cathedral there.

Although Marot's early poems were composed entirely in the style of the late medieval poets known as rhétoriqueurs, he soon abandoned the established genres of that school as well as its conceits, its didactic use of allegory, and its complicated versification. instead, his knowledge of the Latin classics and his contacts with italian literary forms enabled him to learn to imitate the styles and themes of antiquity. He introduced the elegy, the eclogue, the epigram, the epithalamium (nuptial poem), and the one-stanza italian satiric strambotto (French estrabot) into French poetry, and he was one of the first French poets to attempt the Petrarchan sonnet form. His epigrams and epistolary poems (épîtres), in particular, display those qualities of wit, intellectual refinement, and sincerity and naturalness that were to characterize the French use of these genres for the next two centuries. He was also a master of the chant royal and infused some Horatian wit into the old forms of the ballade and the rondeau.

Bibliographic references:

Tchemerzine Viii, 38; Brunet iii col. 1457; Cartier (de Tournes) p.591, No.599; Peter Sharratt, Bernard Salomon: illustrateur Lyonnais, no.44 (pp.308-9); not in Adams, not in STC French.

Physical description:

Thick sextodecimo (textblock measures 118 mm x 75 mm). in an attractive mid 19th-century full calf with richly gilt-tooled spine with large initials 'J L' (almost certainly the owner's for whom it was bound) gilt-stamped in Gothic letters on front cover. Edges speckled; green silk bookmark attached.

Pagination: [26], 597, [1], 314, [6] pp.
Signatures: a-qq8 A-V8 (V7,8 are blanks and present).
Collated and COMPLETE, including two terminal blanks.

Printed in small Roman letter. Woodcut medallion portrait of Marot on the first title page; divisional title to second volume within decorative woodcut cartouche; De Tournes' woodcut printer's device at end of both parts (on qq8v and V6v). 22 woodcuts in text in second volume, illustrating Marot's translation of Ovid and Musaeus (attributed to Bernard Salomon).


Initials "J L" of a 19th-century owner gilt-stamped on the binding's front cover and at bottom of spine.


Good antiquarian condition. Binding rubbed at extremities, joints worn, cracked and rather tender, but still holding; boards still attached. Upper margin cropped somewhat closely occasionally cutting into a pagination number, a running title or a marginal note, but main text remains intact throughout. Light toning and occasional minor spotting to some leaves. Some early pen doodling to the rear blank V7. Minor worming at gutter of some leaves, which on quires Q (vol.1) and A-E (vol.2) has been repaired with transparent rice-paper (now somewhat yellowed) in upper inner margin, slightly affecting some text, but without loss of legibility. Otherwise a very clean and and solid example of this lovely and very rare edition.

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1579 Clement Marot Oeuvre French Renaissance Poetry Woodcuts Psalms Bible Ovid

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