Human rights, story-ballet and insects: The Oxford Enlightenment programme for 2018-2019

Our 2018-2019 programme is spearheaded by events on human rights and the Enlightenment, a much-debated topic with contemporary implications. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, two emblematic documents took for granted the view that human beings were entitled to certain basic universal rights (albeit within clearly demarcated political communities). In August 1789, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen began with a reference to ‘the natural, inalienable, and sacred rights of man’; while thirteen years earlier, the Founding Fathers of the nascent United States famously held ‘these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’.

In both cases reality on the ground did not match the universalist thrust of the celebratory Declarations. Moreover, eighteenth-century concepts of human rights should not be teleologically conflated with contemporary, post-war ideas and documents bearing similar titles (see, for example, Samuel Moyn’s account of the very recent history of present-day human rights). While trying to avoid such a distorting perspective, significant questions remain to be answered concerning, in the first place, the origins of the rights discourse so manifest in the American and French Declarations of the late eighteenth century; and, secondly, the intellectual genealogy of human rights from the Age of Revolutions onwards.

In our first event this year, the Besterman Lecture of the Voltaire Foundation on 15 November 2018, Keith Michael Baker of Stanford University – one of the foremost scholars of the French Revolution – will subject to close scrutiny different contexts and discussions of human rights in the early stages of the Revolution. The title of his lecture is ‘Writing Rights in 1789’. At the other end of the academic year, on 29 April 2019, Dan Edelstein (also of Stanford) will return to the origins of some of the basic notions at the heart of the Revolution in the inaugural George Rousseau Lecture, provisionally entitled ‘Liberty as Equality: Rousseau and Roman Constitutionalism’. The Lecture has been made possible by a generous gift from George Rousseau, a leading scholar of eighteenth-century culture, to Magdalen College (where the event will take place). The George Rousseau Lecture will be preceded by an afternoon colloquium (on the same day) on human rights and the Enlightenment, taking its cue from Dan Edelstein’s forthcoming book on the topic. We are delighted to welcome to Oxford for this discussion three major scholars of eighteenth-century political thought: Annelien de Dijn (Utrecht), Mark Philp (Warwick), and Céline Spector (Sorbonne, Paris).

Beyond this thematic focus, the Enlightenment Workshop returns in the second and third terms with a genuinely interdisciplinary programme on diverse aspects of eighteenth-century European culture. Daniel Fulda, Director of the Enlightenment Research Centre at the University of Halle (IZEA), will show us how major Enlightenment ideas were represented visually. Emma Spary (Cambridge) will examine the relationship between humanism and eighteenth-century scholarship by focusing on botany and what she calls ‘the Enlightenment of ginseng’. Moving on from flora to fauna, Dominik Hünniger of the Lichtenberg-Kolleg at the University of Göttingen will discuss the ways in which Enlightenment authors imagined and depicted the reproduction of insects. In papers on eighteenth-century British culture, Ros Ballaster (English, Oxford) will investigate the interface between theatre and the novel by focusing on Charlotte Lennox and Oliver Goldsmith, and Peter Sabor (McGill University, Montreal) will share with us some of the insights gained through his impressive editorial work on authors of the Burney family. In other sessions, Kate Tunstall (French, Oxford) will discuss representations of the unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Louis XV in 1757, and Julia Bührle (English, Oxford) will look at the links between eighteenth-century dance and literature in a session on the Enlightenment’s ‘story-ballet’. In the third term, Iwan-Michelangelo D’Aprile (co-director of the Research Center Sanssouci in Potsdam) will talk about eighteenth-century migration politics, while Maxine Berg (Warwick) will take us to one of the farthest reaches of the Enlightenment: Nootka Sound on the northwestern Pacific coast.

Last but not least, Richard Whatmore of the University of St Andrews will survey the activities of eighteenth-century Genevans in Ireland in a paper promisingly entitled ‘Terrorists, Anarchists and Republicans’. Professor Whatmore will accompany the rich menu of the Enlightenment Workshop with his series of six Carlyle Lectures on ‘The End of Enlightenment’. The dates and titles are available on the History Faculty website.

From eighteenth-century human rights and migration politics to the performance arts via ginseng and insects: we hope to provide something of interest to anyone who would like have a closer, unusual look at the European Enlightenment.

Avi Lifschitz (Magdalen)

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Lectures voltairiennes : colloque à la Bibliothèque de Voltaire (Bibliothèque nationale de Russie)

La bibliothèque de Voltaire à Ferney, acquise par Catherine II après la mort de l’écrivain, fut installée en 1779 dans l’Ermitage du Palais d’Hiver à Saint-Pétersbourg. En 1861, elle fut transférée à la Bibliothèque impériale publique (actuelle Bibliothèque nationale de Russie).

Bibliothèque de Voltaire

Bibliothèque de Voltaire (Bibliothèque nationale de Russie, Saint-Pétersbourg).

Après la visite du président Jacques Chirac en 1997 et grâce aux efforts de Nikolaï Kopanev, alors directeur de la Réserve des livres rares, un projet de coopération culturelle franco-russe démarra, qui aboutit à la création d’une salle dédiée à la bibliothèque du philosophe. Elle fut inaugurée en 2003, l’année du tricentenaire de Saint-Pétersbourg, par les premiers ministres des deux pays, MM. Mikhail Kassianov et Jean-Pierre Raffarin. Toujours à l’instigation de Nikolaï Kopanev, qui assuma le poste de conservateur en chef de la Bibliothèque de Voltaire, le parti fut pris de créer en ce même lieu le « Centre d’étude du siècle des Lumières ». Les fonctions habituelles de conservation se doublèrent ainsi d’activités de recherche dans l’idée qu’un si précieux trésor, riche de près de 7000 livres, devait stimuler les activités des dix-huitièmistes, contribuer à coordonner leurs actions et manifester la profondeur et la richesse du lien culturel qui unit l’Europe et la Russie au XVIIIe siècle.

Les activités de ce centre sont variées : il s’agit d’accueillir et de conseiller les chercheurs du monde entier, de contribuer à l’édition des Œuvres complètes de Voltaire en cours de publication, d’approfondir la description des fonds bibliographiques, etc. N. Kopanev avait grandement contribué à éclaircir les différents aspects du commerce du livre français en Russie (en 1980 il publia un livre sur ce sujet, dont la version française vient de paraître).

Nikolaï Kopanev, Nicholas Cronk et Vladimir Zaïtsev

Nikolaï Kopanev, Nicholas Cronk et Vladimir Zaïtsev (de gauche à droite), à la présentation du volume 6 du Corpus des notes marginales de Voltaire, Bibliothèque nationale de Russie, le 21 septembre 2006.

En tant que conservatrice en chef de la Bibliothèque de Voltaire depuis 2014, je me suis attachée à faire connaître différents matériaux conservés dans les fonds manuscrits de la Bibliothèque de Voltaire et d’autres archives russes, tandis que ma collègue Mme Alla Zlatopolskaya s’est consacrée à l’étude des aspects de la réception de Voltaire et de Rousseau en Russie depuis l’origine jusqu’à aujourd’hui.

L’aspect le plus emblématique des activités du Centre d’étude du siècle des Lumières est incarné par les colloques internationaux qu’il a organisé presque chaque année depuis 2003 autour de thèmes spécifiques. Les langues de travail en sont le russe et le français. Les colloques se tiennent au sein de la Bibliothèque nationale de Russie, qu’il s’agisse de son ancien site de la rue Sadovaya ou du nouvel édifice du Parc de la Victoire. Par-delà les communications des chercheurs, les conférences donnent lieu à de nombreuses activités culturelles : expositions de livres, concerts de musique baroque ou représentations théâtrales.

Les thèmes des colloques des années précédentes furent les suivants :

2003: table ronde « De l’intérêt de l’étude des Lumières aujourd’hui »
2004: Louis XIV dans les Œuvres de Voltaire
2005: Religion et Lumières
2006: Voltaire, le journalisme européen et l’opinion publique au XVIIIe siècle
2007: Diderot et la Russie
2009: Candide: 250 ans d’histoire
2010: Voltaire et l’historiographie russe
2011: Les 150 ans de la Bibliothèque Voltaire au sein de la BnR
2012: L’homme et l’éducation dans le système français des Lumières: au 300e anniversaire de la naissance de J.-J. Rousseau
2013: L’encyclopédisme en Europe de l’Ouest et en Russie: à l’occasion du 300e anniversaire de la naissance de Denis Diderot
2014: La Russie et les Lumières en Europe occidentale: en mémoire de N. A. Kopanev
2015: Voltaire, la littérature et la société russes
2017: Les Voies des Lumières : les bibliothèques privées du XVIIIe siècle et du début du XIXe siècle et leurs propriétaires

Pierre Zaborov, Jean Sgard et André Magnan

Pierre Zaborov (debout), Jean Sgard (au milieu) et André Magnan (à droite), Bibliothèque nationale de Russie, le 18 décembre 2006.

Le recueil De l’intérêt de l’étude des Lumières aujourd’hui (2004) fut la première publication des actes du colloque, comprenant les contributions de Nikolaï Kopanev, Michel Delon, Nicholas Cronk, Alla Zlatopolskaya, Ulla Kölving et André Magnan. Le premier volume de la série Lectures voltairiennes, paru en 2009, avec l’aide de l’Institut français de Saint-Pétersbourg, est composé des articles basés sur les communications faites lors des colloques des années 2005 et 2006 et consacrés aux questions de la religion au siècle des Lumières et au journalisme européen. Les articles sont édités en version originale (à partir du troisième volume, ils sont pourvus d’un résumé, en français pour les articles en russe et vice versa).

Le second volume (2014) ne contient que des articles en russe, étant consacré au sujet « Voltaire et l’historiographie russe ». Le troisième (2015) se penche sur l’histoire de la bibliothèque de Voltaire et sur Denis Diderot (colloques de 2011 et 2013). Le volume suivant, La Russie et les Lumières en Europe occidentale, ne parut pas dans le cadre de la série des Lectures voltairiennes; il fut dédié à la mémoire de Nikolaï Kopanev, décédé subitement en août 2013. Cette publication présente la totalité des contributions apportées à sa mémoire lors du colloque de 2014 en russe, en français et en anglais et reflète la diversité de ses intérêts: à part les études voltairiennes, il est question de l’histoire du livre, du commerce intellectuel entre la Russie, la France, l’Allemagne et la Hollande, des relations diplomatiques, et des encyclopédistes.

Le quatrième volume (2017) est centré autour des thèmes du colloque 2015 : « Voltaire, la littérature et la société russes ». Il contient également deux comptes rendus des publications qui ont fait date dans l’étude des relations de la Russie avec l’Europe: le premier volume de la correspondance de Catherine II avec F.M. Grimm, préparé par S. Karp, et le catalogue des livres en langues européennes de Pierre le Grand (édition russe, préparé par Irina Khmeleskikh, et l’édition française, contenant des articles sur les livres du tsar et dirigée par Olga Medvedkova).

Le premier et le second volume des Lectures voltairiennes sont accessibles en ligne en entier, le troisième partiellement; à compter du quatrième volume, toutes les publications seront placées en ligne intégralement.

À partir de 2018, les colloques auront lieu tous les deux ans. Nous invitons les chercheurs qui s’occupent de l’histoire des Lumières à prendre part aux activités de notre centre, en venant à Saint-Pétersbourg ou en participant à nos activités par vidéo conférence, et/ou en contribuant à la publication des Lectures voltairiennes, qui vont paraître au rythme des colloques.

Le prochain colloque se tiendra en novembre 2018 et sera consacré à Vladimir Lyublinsky, le plus grand voltairiste russe dont on commémore le cinquantième anniversaire de la mort. Bienvenus seront également les travaux sur l’héritage des Lumières dans la philosophie de Karl Marx, à l’occasion du deuxième centenaire de sa naissance. L’appel à communications se trouve sur le site web du Centre d’étude du siècle des Lumières.

– Natalia Speranskaya
(Conservatrice en chef de la Bibliothèque de Voltaire, Bibliothèque nationale de Russie)

Edinburgh – cradle of the Scottish Enlightenment – hosts ISECS 2019… don’t miss out!

Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle.

Last summer’s ISECS Executive Committee meeting and conference left its mark on me. It took place in Edinburgh – also the location of the next ISECS Congress in 2019 – and I was both overwhelmed and impressed by the vibrancy of the city and the thoroughness of the preparations for the 2019 Congress. So admittedly, this blog is my direct appeal to all eighteenth-century scholars to mark the 2019 Congress, which takes place from 14th to 19th July 2019, as a ‘must attend’ in their conference diary. Held every four years and bringing together over 1,000 researchers from all disciplines related to eighteenth-century studies, ISECS congresses are ideal opportunities for scholars to present their latest work, establish new collaborative networks, and, of course, discover great places.

The Voltaire Foundation’s links to ISECS (and indeed Scotland) run deep. Both the VF and ISECS were the brainchild of Theodore Besterman, and the second ISECS Congress was held in St Andrews, just up the road from Edinburgh. Indeed, it was at that very meeting that the idea for the Complete Works of Voltaire (Œuvres complètes de Voltaire) was hatched, and where Besterman established its first editorial committee, headed by William Barber (University of Oxford). Now, over 50 years on, we look forward to celebrating the completion of the project – over 200 volumes in total – at the 2019 Congress.

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.

Organised by BSECS (British Society for eighteenth-century studies) and hosted by the University of Edinburgh, putting on such a large-scale meeting is no mean feat! Preparations for Edinburgh 2019 were a key topic of discussion at this year’s Executive Committee meeting. From facilities planning (where to run umpteen parallel sessions, making sure that locations are accessible and near each other for possible session-hopping? … what about refreshments?…), establishing the academic programme, organising the early career scholar bursary scheme, to planning an enticing variety of cultural events, I can honestly say that Brycchan Carey and his team have everything covered.

For ‘newbies’ to Edinburgh, consider the city as a place of two halves. To the north of Princes Street, the main thoroughfare, lies New Town, which was built in the late eighteenth century and still boasts fine Georgian houses. To the south is the Old Town, location of the University of Edinburgh and the Congress itself. Edinburgh is compact, and the main tourist sights such as the Castle, the Royal Mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse are all within easy walking distance.

Edinburgh New Town.

Edinburgh New Town.

So, if you only read one section of this blog, this is why I think ISECS 2019 is a ‘must-attend’ … where else will you be inspired by such a diverse range of papers addressing the central – and pertinent– theme of ‘Enlightenment identities’? What better opportunity to make new connections with early career and established scholars from around the world? What better time to meet publishers face-to-face, discuss your future projects and browse the wealth of books and resources available?

…And some practical tips!

  • bring good sturdy shoes: Edinburgh is ‘undulating’, and your feet are your best means of transport.
  • consider staying in one of the quieter areas of South Side or St Leonard’s (still only a 10-15 minute walk from the University).
  • plan to dress like an onion, i.e. in layers… there’s a reason why the parks are green….
  • don’t limit yourself to the Old Town… walk over to New Town at dusk and admire the sumptuous neo-classical architecture whilst the sun sets over the Firth of Forth in the distance.
  • for refuelling, the Mosque Kitchen is a local gem, tasty, cheap, eat-in or take-out food and right next to the University.

– Lyn Roberts

 

Pierre Bayle chez lui in Le Carla

Le Carla, a medieval fortified village near Foix in the Ariège, was the birthplace of Pierre Bayle, and the fitting location of a two-day meeting – open to all – on the subject of Huguenot travels and correspondence (November 9th-10th).

Bayle kept fond memories of his home town throughout his life and regretted not having taken more interest in the local agricultural and apicultural preoccupations. Out of nostalgia, he even devotes a few articles in his Dictionnaire historique et critique to local towns or local phenomena. Despite his long period of exile in Rotterdam (1681-1706), he never really settled down in the city: he never learnt to speak Dutch and never got used to the bitterly cold winters, nor to the custom of beer-drinking. After all, he was used to the warm climate of the French south and to drinking wine with his meals. The thick tobacco smoke that engulfed Dutch taverns also made everyday life difficult for him, bringing on migraines so debilitating that they forced him to abandon his journalistic activities in 1687. His reluctance to accept integration into Dutch society was also fuelled by his hope that political negotiations might make it possible for the exiled Huguenots to return to France, in all freedom of conscience. For an unparallelled insight into Bayle’s time in Rotterdam (and much more), delve into the Correspondance de Pierre Bayle (15 vols) – the first complete edition of his letters.

Antony McKenna at the Maison Pierre Bayle.

Antony McKenna presents the critical edition of the Correspondance de Pierre Bayle in November 2017 at the Maison Pierre Bayle.

A great number of local people from many different professional backgrounds attended the meeting, located very appropriately at the Maison Pierre Bayle – appropriate as the Maison was established on the site of the original Bayle family home. Surrounded by Bayle’s own works and a large library of critical works dedicated to his life and writings (and even a life-size puppet representing the philosopher with quill in hand), the sessions were both intense and stimulating: a rare opportunity to take Bayle outside the circle of university specialists.

Following the initiative of the mayor, Jean-Luc Couret, back in the 1990s, the village of Le Carla (now officially renamed Le Carla-Bayle) has been beautifully restored and is now considered to be one of the most important cultural centres of the region. It hosts many lectures open to the general public and a myriad of activities surrounding these lectures. A number of painters, sculptors and potters have also established their studios in the village and a vibrant arts festival takes place each spring. The original Protestant church (or temple in French) is still in place and in use, just as it was when Bayle’s father and elder brother served as its ministers.

Here are are some of the highlights of the November meeting :

Thursday 9 November

  • a discussion of the critical edition of Elie Richard’s Relations des voyages faits en France, en Flandres, en Hollande et en Allemagne, 1708 (Paris, Honoré Champion, 2017), chaired by Kees Meerhoff.
  • a ‘Café littéraire’ organised par l’Estive on La passion des Anabaptistes, by Ambre and David Vandermeulen.

Friday 10 November

  • a discussion by Yves Moreau of the critical edition of the correspondence of Jacob Spon (1647–1685), which was the subject of his thesis at the University of Lyon 2, 2013.
  • Antony McKenna presented the critical edition of the Correspondance de Pierre Bayle (Oxford, Voltaire Foundation, 1999-2017, 15 vols), which was completed in June of this year.
  • a traditional vin d’honneur was offered by the mayor in the Maison Pierre Bayle.

– Antony McKenna

 

ASECS 2017: the twentieth century meets the eighteenth

This spring, the Voltaire Foundation showcased its publications at the annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. One of those staffing the VF book stand was Evan Casey, a graduate student in History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Here, Evan recounts her first-time experience of ASECS.

Downtown Minneapolis

Downtown Minneapolis.

As a history student working primarily on twentieth-century America I felt a bit of an interloper at an event for eighteenth-century scholars. However, I found that while I may have been out of my primary research period, I was not out of my methodical or theoretical comfort zone. I enjoyed participating in the graduate and women’s caucus luncheons, as well as the Voltaire Foundation’s cocktail and dessert party (which drew over 80 ASECS attendees to the suite of retiring executive director Byron Wells), the Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment editorial board’s working dinner, and a pub outing on the final night of the meeting, hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Early Modern History.

Vf book stand, with Kelsey Rubin-Detlev and Evan Casey.

Vf book stand, with Kelsey Rubin-Detlev and Evan Casey.

I spent most of the conference at the Voltaire Foundation book stand, which provided an ideal spot from which to encounter the dix-huitiémistes in their native habitat. All three days brought consistent traffic between and during conference sessions. Several of the authors stopped by throughout the conference; most were pleased to see the display and enthusiastically took promotional order forms for their texts. Shoppers seemed similarly impressed by the exhibit of recent releases from Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment and the Œuvres complètes de Voltaire. There was repeated enthusiasm for some of the newer books, including the monographs John Millar and the Scottish Enlightenment: family life and world history by Nicholas B. Miller, and William Beckford: the elusive Orientalist by Laurent Châtel, as well as Casanova: Enlightenment philosopher edited by Ivo Cerman, Susan Reynolds, and Diego Lucci. Great interest was also expressed in the final volume of the Correspondance de Madame de Graffigny, which completes the 15-vol. edition of all of Françoise de Graffigny’s letters.

Ecrasez l’infâme tote bag.

Ecrasez l’infâme tote bag.

Of course the most popular items at the stand were the complimentary ‘Ecrasez l’infâme’ canvas tote bags. These tote bags made a clear statement of fashion – so much so that our supply ran out early, though their appeal brought ASECS attendees to the stand throughout the weekend. The tote bags, emblazoned with the eponymous philosopher’s iconic motto, also sported the URL for the Voltaire Foundation website.

The website also provided a ready point of reference to another question that was posed frequently during the conference – how does one submit an inquiry or formal proposal to the Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment team? The answer, of course, is through the series homepage, which includes an overview of its prestigious history, its presence in university libraries worldwide, information for prospective authors, and submission process guidelines. Many prospective authors who visited our table at ASECS expressed enthusiasm for this.

OSE editorial board dinner.

OSE editorial board dinner.

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment itself (including its former incarnation as Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century/ SVEC) also featured on the program. Members and associates of the VF – Director Nicholas Cronk, Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment General Editor Gregory Brown, editorial board members Geoffrey Turnovsky, Karen Stolley and Melissa Hyde, as well as Oxford junior research fellow Kelsey Rubin-Detlev – participated in a roundtable entitled ‘The Enlightenment since Besterman: sixty years of Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century’, which highlighted important works from the SVEC backlist.

Naturally, I would encourage those already thinking forward to the 2018 meeting in Orlando to plan time to visit the Vf exhibit, and to check in on all the latest publications and forthcoming news.

– Evan Casey

Launching and celebrating the Correspondance du président de Brosses et de l’abbé marquis Niccolini

Round table and Italian launch

Sala Azurra of the Scuola Normale Superiore in Piazza dei Cavalieri. From left to right: Professor Vincenzo Ferrone (University of Turin), Professor Andrea Giardina (SNS) in the chair, and Professor Marcello Verga (University of Florence).

The Italian launch of the Correspondance du président de Brosses et de l’abbé marquis Niccolini, edited by myself and Mireille Gille, took the form of a one-day round table on 12 April in the beautiful Sala Azzura of the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. The late Renaissance surroundings of Vasari’s building in the Piazza dei Cavalieri lent themselves perfectly to the evocation of two aristocatic eighteenth-century scholars whose wide-ranging culture was in itself a continuation of that very spirit of the Renaissance.

The incontro was organized by Professor Andrea Giardina, who holds the chair of Roman History and is Director of the Laboratory of History, Archaeology, Epigraphy and Tradition of Antiquity. He is also the current President of the International Committee of Historical Sciences. After paying a handsome tribute to us for our work, he invited Professor Vincenzo Ferrone of the University of Turin, and Professor Marcello Verga of the University of Florence and also director of the Istituto di Storia dell’Europa Mediterranea du Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) in Rome, to open the discussion.

Professor Vincenzo Ferrone dwelled largely on the influence of Newton on Antonio Niccolini’s thinking, and he suggested that the abate may have been a freemason. He regretted the absence of references to the publication of the Encyclopédie in his correspondence with De Brosses. Professor Marcello Verga then picked up the references in the correspondence to Niccolini’s belief that his beloved Tuscany was in decline, an idea that also lay at the heart of the debates of Muratori and Tiraboschi. Moreover, if Niccolini said little about the politics of Tuscany, his views of European events are shown to have been particularly striking. Niccolini’s admiration for Montesquieu, whom he saw as serious critic of despotism, led Professor Verga to speak of the political role of the Florentine academies, such as the Crusca, where the scholarship of the elite also served to rein back despotism. He drew attention to Niccolini’s final belief that the Church was, indeed, the strongest bulwark against despotism.

Villa at Camugliano (from left to right): Marchese Lorenzo Niccolini, Dr Mireille Gille, and Professor John Rogister, taken the day before, 11 April.

In response to these stimulating points of discussion, Mireille Gille began by stressing the fortunate circumstances that had made possible the publication of both sides of the correspondence, while lamenting the loss of several letters which deprived us of any knowledge of Niccolini’s reaction to the news given to him by De Brosses of the publication of the Encyclopédie. She also described the rules adopted in the presentation of the texts that had enabled the correspondence to fully reflect the grammatical and spelling quirks of the two writers, one of whom was not writing in his native language.

I then took up some of the points raised by the speakers. I questioned whether Niccolini was a freemason, saying that there was no formal evidence for the claim and that what got him into trouble was his initial hostility to the exclusion of the natural heir of the Medicis from the succession to the grand-ducal throne by the major European powers. Indeed I emphasised Niccolini’s ‘soft’ Jansenism, an approach similar to that of his friend Benedict XIV, and his secret role as a diplomat. Although an admirer of Newton, Niccolini sided with the view that ‘cento Newton non farebbero un Montesquieu’. After questions from a large audience of scholars, Professor Giardina thanked the participants and concluded the session by inviting those present to a reception.

A congenial lunch hosted by Professor Giardina for the participants later took place at an osteria. Marchese and Marchesa Niccolini, who had made possible the publication of one half of the correspondence with documents from their family archives, were present at the session. The previous day Mireille Gille and I had been to their Medicean villa at Camugliano to present them with a copy of the volume, and we were shown the splendid estate. After a delightful lunch, we were taken on a tour of the villa from which Antonio Niccolini had written at least one of his letters to President de Brosses. Being in the very place that the abbé had put pen to paper was a very fitting start to the launch.

Celebrating the Correspondance with the De Brosses family

The lunch: Alec de Brosses introducing Count Dorick de Brosses (left), John Rogister is on the right.

When I mentioned to Alec de Brosses that there was to be a launch in Pisa of his ancestor’s epistolary exchanges with Niccolini, he was keen that there should also be one in France. For some years now, he had hosted occasional gatherings of the De Brosses family at his château d’Ailly near Parigny (Loire). As this year also marked the 240th anniversary of the death of président de Brosses in May 1777, it seemed appropriate to hold both events at the same time.

The date was fixed for 3 June, near enough to the anniversary, and there would be a buffet lunch at which I would give a presentation of the volume. After travelling down from Paris the day before, Alec met me for the short journey in bright sunshine to the beautiful eighteenth-century château d’Ailly, where I was to stay. On either side of my bed were large prints of the comte de Saint-Florentin and cardinal de Tencin, not men who had been close to the président’s heart, one suspects. The next day, about sixty members of the De Brosses clan arrived in family groups bearing exquisitely prepared food for the lunch, and Count Dorick de Brosses, the owner of the président’s papers, came over from Saint-Trys with bottles of his chateau’s wine.

A group photograph of the De Brosses family on the terrace of the chateau after the lunch, including: (in front, on the right) John Rogister; (on the step behind him) Dorick and Alec de Brosses; (top left at the back) Count de Brosses, head of the family.

There was a convivial partie de campagne atmosphere to the reunion, and sadly I was the only one dressed in city clothes, having just attended a very formal event at the Mazarine two days previously. This discrepancy did not seem to matter as the weather changed and rain forced us all to go indoors for the lunch. I gave my short speech, and concluded by presenting a copy of the Correspondance to Dorick de Brosses, who seemed to me to bear a striking resemblance to portraits of his ancestor. I could not help reflecting that the président had two wives and several daughters before he finally produced the son and heir from whom all present-day members of the family are descended.

After lunch the sun came out again and group photographs were taken on the terrace of the chateau facing the lake. During the late afternoon most of those present departed, and those staying at Ailly had a final dinner there. The next day Alec drove me to Roanne to catch the train to Lyon, where I boarded a very crowded Whit-Sunday TGV back to Paris full of pleasant memories of the hospitality and wit of a remarkable family.

– John Rogister

Editorialités: pratiques et enjeux à travers les siècles

Après la journée consacrée aux « Matérialités » du livre, qui s’était déroulée en janvier 2015, la collaboration entre l’Université d’Oxford et l’Université de Fribourg (Suisse) – familièrement surnommée Oxfrib ou Fribox selon les goûts – a fait son retour en novembre dernier à la Maison Française d’Oxford, pour une troisième édition: « Editorialités: Practices of Editing and Publishing ».

ploix-fig1Selon une pétition rédigée par le London book trade en 1643, le statut conféré aux professionnels du livre en France est tenu en haute estime, et on lui fait l’honneur de lui réserver une place à la « périphérie de la littérature » (cité dans Wheale, Writing and Society, 1999, cf. ici). La journée d’études a placé cette périphérie littéraire au centre de l’attention. Parce qu’il ne peut y avoir de centre sans périphérie, ni de périphérie sans centre, les intervenants ont montré avec conviction l’influence et le rôle essentiel de l’édition dans la création de l’œuvre littéraire. Deux perspectives générales m’ont semblé se dessiner: l’enquête sur les tenants et les aboutissants de la genèse du livre en tant qu’objet pour en comprendre davantage la signification, et l’étude des difficultés que peut poser l’œuvre à l’éditeur-critique, par sa nature problématique ou son contexte de création. (Pour les résumés des communications, voir ici).

La présentation initiale de la journée a d’emblée permis de concilier ces deux perspectives. Proposer des éditions modernes des manuscrits-recueils médiévaux invite à élucider les ressorts sous-jacents de leur compilation, à travers la recherche des réseaux de convergence et des réalités matérielles de production qui furent les leurs (Marion Uhlig).

Le plus souvent, l’enquête sur l’ethos du compilateur se mène via le paratexte. Une enquête d’autant plus nécessaire, dans le cas des textes de la Renaissance, car le terme d’« imprimeur-libraire », communément utilisé, est trop large pour déterminer avec précision la nature de l’intervention éditoriale (Nina Mueggler). Dans le cas de Gille Corrozet, Nina a également soulevé le problème décisif et récurrent de la confrontation de deux identités. Le compilateur étant lui-même auteur, que dire de son ethos éditorial, qu’il revendique consciencieux, fidèle et soigné, lorsque l’on constate une tendance à « ajouter du liant » et à anoblir le style des textes qu’il assemble?

Souvent, la transformation d’une œuvre par le geste éditorial relève d’une véritable démarche herméneutique. Louis le Roi, traduisant le Banquet de Platon, reterritorialise et assimile le texte source: la réorganisation signifiante du récit et l’importante présence de commentaires exégétiques, font du Banquet un texte chrétien (Antoine Vuilleumier).

Plusieurs autres exemples d’éditions guidées par un paradigme de lecture préconçu et adressées à un lectorat spécifique ont été développés. Grâce à une relecture critique des Parallèles Burlesques de Dufresnoy, inclues dans l’édition de J.F. Bernard des Œuvres de Rabelais (1741), Olivia Madin a notamment montré le rôle du paratexte dans la réappropriation féministe de l’œuvre. Emma Claussen a donné un brillant aperçu de l’engagement politique des rééditions successives de la Satyre ménippée dans le contexte des guerres de religion.

Dans certains cas, l’objectif de l’éditeur ne se limite pas à servir le texte original ou le lectorat contemporain, et peut avoir pour but principal l’autopromotion. A l’image de la démarche de justification et de valorisation de Louis le Roi dans ses commentaires, Corneille, de manière encore plus marquante, édite ses propres pièces pour en faire un répertoire de référence d’une théorie théâtrale universelle (Marine Souchier).

La question du positionnement de l’édition par rapport au texte source est centrale lorsque les obstacles imposés par le matériau textuel problématisent l’édition. Le texte épars que constitue Lamiel de Stendhal, assemblage de multiples réécritures et fragments dont la logique échappe souvent au critique, en offre un exemple probant (Sarah Jones). La relation entre éditorialité et fidélité par rapport à l’œuvre est d’autant plus problématique lorsque l’auteur fait preuve d’un engagement pugnace sur les modalités de la publication de ses propres œuvres (Jean Rime). Les écrits journalistiques de George Sand, à « logique médiatique » et rédigés collectivement, offrent, de surcroît, un nouvel exemple de tension entre l’œuvre à publier et la tradition éditoriale moderne, solidement ancrée dans une « logique de l’auteur ».

On a été amené à élargir le champ d’étude à d’autres genres. Le texte théâtral étant subordonné aux contingences des répétitions et à l’appropriation du metteur en scène, la représentation théâtrale déstabilise la conception habituelle de l’éditorialité (Vanessa Lee). Le médium non textuel du cours magistral ou séminaire entraîne également une série de problèmes pour l’édition. Dépendant de l’intermédiaire d’une transcription, elle-même, souvent déformante, le contenu du cours, consubstantiel à la présence physique de la voix, est en proie à se dénaturer (Sophie Jaussi).

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La conférence plénière de Catriona Seth, riche d’anecdotes et d’exemples, a retracé l’histoire fascinante de la réception d’André Chénier à travers les éditions successives de ses œuvres. Chargées de fortes implications politiques au tournant du siècle, les éditions bâtissent une mythologie de l’auteur en tant que figure victimaire de la Révolution. Elles participent également à l’établissement de la gloire posthume d’un poète: à titre d’exemple, Latouche (1819) et Walter (1940) font du dernier vers du poète un vers nettement conclusif, presque épigrammatique, en parfaite corrélation avec l’image d’un poète posant un point final avant de monter sur l’échafaud. L’Anthologie de la poésie française co-dirigée par Catriona Seth conserve le véritable vers de conclusion, « Ce sera toi demain, insensible imbécile »; vers authentique, mais orphelin, non rimé, qui évacue l’effet de sublime.

Qu’Oxford fût le lieu de cette journée pourrait presque sembler opportun: l’Oxford University Press, bien sûr, mais également la Voltaire Foundation, font de cette ville un haut lieu de l’édition. La répercussion des choix éditoriaux comme engagement, fidélité, distanciation, clarification, justification, assimilation, unification, appropriation, promotion ou autopromotion soulèvent chaque jour des questionnements dans la maison abritant le travail de réédition de l’œuvre complète de Voltaire: l’article de Gillian Pink publié récemment (accessible ici) en offre un aperçu révélateur.

« Génialissimes ». C’est par ce terme qu’Alain Viala a décrit les intervenants dans sa conclusion générale en fin de journée. Le succès de cette rencontre revient avant tout aux organisateurs: Professor Alain Viala, Dr Kate TunstallDr Emma ClaussenGemma Tidman et Olivia Madin.

– Cédric Ploix, doctorant, St Hugh’s College