What the French edition of the Essais in 1611 owed to the English translation of 1603
“However, as he acknowledges in the dedication to his two of his six patronesses, Lucy Countess of Bedford and Lady Anne Harrington, his achievement resulted from a collaborative effort.”
The 1611 edition of the Essais, published in Paris and with surviving copies bearing the imprint of one of five booksellers, has generally attracted little critical attention. This seems entirely logical, since it is closely derived from the 1608 edition, which contained more significant changes. As Desan showed, ‘C’est donc en 1608 qu’un nouveau livre-objet des Essais voit le jour.’ The 1608 edition was the first to contain summaries in the margin, a full life of Montaigne, and the portrait of the author engraved by Thomas le Leu; it was also the first non-pirated edition with indexes. Yet, in one respect, the 1611 edition deserves closer attention, for it is the first French edition to provide the sources of most of the quotations, in the form of side notes. Although Sayce and Maskell record this bibliographical data, neither they nor other critics have investigated how this came about, or its significance. The answer lies in what I shall term Florio’s French Journey.
Author: Valerie Worth-Stylianou