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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Sidenote Du Croset Philocalie


[Sidenote:

Des Escuteaux and his _Amours Diverses_.]

It is still more unfortunate that our national collection has none of the numerous fictions[136] of A(ntoine?) de Nerveze. His _Amours Diverses_ (1606), in which he collected no less than seven love-stories, published separately earlier, would be useful. But it luckily does provide the similarly titled book of Des Escuteaux, who is perhaps the most representative and prolific writer, next to Montreux and Nerveze, of the whole, and who seems to me, from what I have read of the first and what others say of the second, to be their superior. The collections consist of (_Amours de_ in every case) _Filiris et Isolia_, dedicated to Isabel (not "-bel_le_") de Rochechouart; _Clarimond et Antoinette_ (to Lucresse [_sic_] de Bouille); _Clidamant et Marilinde_ (to _Jane_ de la Brunetiere), and _Ipsilis et Alixee_ (to Renee de Cosse, Amirale de France!).[137]

Some readers may be a little "put off" by a habit which Des Escuteaux has, especially in the first story of the volume, of prefixing, as in drama, the names of the speakers--_Le Prince_, _La Princesse_, etc.--to the first paragraphs of the harangues and _histoires_ of which these books so largely consist.[138] But it is not universal. The most interesting of the four is, I think, _Clidamant et Marilinde_, for it introduces the religious wars, a sojourn of the lovers on a desert island, which M. Reynier[139] not unjustly calls

Crusoe-like, and other "varieties."

[Sidenote: Francois de Moliere--_Polyxene._]

I have not seen the other--quite other, and Francois--Moliere's _Semaine Amoureuse_, which belongs to this class, though later than most; but his still later _Polyxene_, a sort of half-way house between these shorter novels and the ever-enlarged "Heroics," is a very fat duodecimo of 1100 pages. The heroine has two lovers--one with the singular name of Cloryman,--but love does not run smooth with either, and she ends by taking the (pagan) veil. The bathos of the thought and style may be judged from the heroine's affecting mention of an entertainment as "the last _ballet_ my unhappy father ever saw."

[Sidenote: Du Perier--_Arnoult et Clarimonde._]

Not one of the worst of these four or five score minors, though scarcely in itself a positively good thing, is the Sieur du Perier's _La Haine et l'Amour d'Arnoult et de Clarimonde_. It begins with a singularly banal exordium, gravely announcing that Hate and Love _are_ among the most important passions, with other statements of a similar kind couched in commonplace language. But it does something to bring the novel from an uninteresting cloudland to earth by dealing with the recent and still vividly felt League wars: and there is some ingenuity shown in plotting the conversion of the pair from more than "a little aversion" at the beginning to nuptial union--_not_ at the end. For it is one of the points about the book which are not commonplace, though it may be a survival or atavism from mediaeval practice--that the latter part of it is occupied mainly, not with Arnoult and Clarimonde, but with the loves, fortunes, and misfortunes of their daughter Claride.

[Sidenote: Du Croset--_Philocalie._ Corbin--_Philocaste._]

The _Philocalie_ of Du Croset (1593) derives its principal interest from its being not merely a _Bergerie_ before the _Astree_, but, like it, the work of a Forezian gentleman who proudly asserts his territoriality, and dedicates his book to the "Chevalier D'Urfe." And its part name-fellow, the _Philocaste_ of Jean Corbin--a very tiny book, the heroine of which is (one would hardly have thought it from her name) a Princess of England--is almost entirely composed of letters, discourse on them, and a few interspersed verses. It belongs to the division of backward-looking novels, semi-chivalrous in type, and its hero is as often called "The Black Knight" as by his name.


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