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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Beroalde is one of the oddest of polygraphers


[Sidenote:

Jean de Lannoi and his _Roman Satirique_.]

The _Roman Satirique_ (1624) of Jean de Lannoi is another example of the curious inability to "hit it off" which has been mentioned so often as characterising the period. Its 1100 pages are far too many, though it is fair to say that the print is exceptionally large and loose. Much of it is not in any sense "satiric," and it seems to have derived what popularity it had almost wholly from the "key" interest.

[Sidenote: Beroalde de Verville outside the _Moyen de Parvenir_.]

The minor works--if the term may be used when the attribution of the major is by no means certain--of Beroalde de Verville have, as is usual, been used both ways as arguments for and against his authorship of the _Moyen de Parvenir_. _Les Aventures de Floride_ is simply an attempt, and a big one in size, to _amadigauliser_, as the literary slang of the time went. The _Histoire Veritable_, owing nothing but its title and part of its idea to Lucian, and sub-titled _Les Princes Fortunes_, is less conventional. It has a large fancy map for a frontispiece; there are fairies in it, and a sort of _pot-pourri_ of queernesses which might not impossibly have come from the author or editor of the _Moyen_ in his less inconveniently ultra-Pantagruelist moments. _Le Cabinet de Minerve_ is actually a glorification of "honest" love. In fact, Beroalde is one of the oddest of "polygraphers,"

and there is nobody quite like him in English, though some of his fellows may be matched, after a fashion, with our Elizabethan pamphleteers. I have long wished to read the whole of him, but I suppose I never shall.

And it is time to leave these very minor stars and come to the full and gracious moon of the _Astree_ itself.

[Sidenote: The _Astree_--its author.]

Honore D'Urfe, who was three years younger than Shakespeare, and died in the year in which Charles I. came to the throne, was a cadet of a very ancient family in the district or minor province of Forez, where his own famous Lignon runs into the Loire. He was a pupil of the Jesuits and early _fort en theme_, was a strenuous _ligueur_, and, though (or perhaps also because) he was very good friends with Henri's estranged wife, Margot, for some time decidedly suspect to Henri IV. For this reason, and others of property, etc., he became almost a naturalised Savoyard, but died in the service of his own country at the beginning of Richelieu's Valtelline war. The most noteworthy thing in his rather eventful life was, however, his marriage. This also has a direct literary interest, at least in tradition, which will have his wife, Diane de Chateaumorand, to be Astree herself, and so the heroine of "the first [great] sentimental romance." The circumstances of the union, however, were scarcely sentimental, much less romantic. They were even, as people used to say yesterday, "not quite nice," and the Abbe Reure, a devotee of both parties to it, admits that they "_heurte[nt] violemment nos idees_." In fact Diane was not only eight years older than Honore and thirty-eight years of age, but she had been for a quarter of a century the wife of his elder brother, Anne, while he himself was a knight of Malta, and vowed to celibacy. Of course (as the Canon points out with irrefragably literal accuracy in logic and law) the marriage being declared null _ab initio_ (for the cause most likely to suggest itself, though alleged after extraordinary


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