Les Voies Cartographiques a Propos des Influences des Cartographes sur les Écrivains Francais des XVE et XVIE Siecles

Author: Sauret, Martine
In French

Integrating different historical, sociological and philosophical perspectives, the book proceeds to closely study cartographers’ maps and their writings through visual elements such as letters, trompe-l’oeil, and anamorphosis, and show how this new medium influenced writings of sixteenth century, France. The work will explore the sense of the nation, will discuss the beginning of the autonomous geography of writing and the emergence of Renaissance values in France.


“Over the last two decades a good deal of new and exciting work has been executed in this area, and Martine Sauret’s contribution is no exception … Martine Sauret brings to the growing field of cartography and literature a rich textual bias. She studies a body of canonical works from a perspective that looks upon the space and form of print in cartographical terms. For her a text is indeed a map simply because the page itself is a plan, a surface that offers illusion of depth at the same time its graphic substance both corroborates and betrays the shape of its content. Her work attests to what Jacques Rancière calls the balance between an “active” or voluntary expression on the part of the artist or writer and a “passive” or involuntary counterpart in which meanings are found in surface-effects and in areas that are not under the control of grammar. What makes the work especially attractive may indeed be found in the spatial and historical tensions that inspire her close and sustained readings of Rabelais, Peter Apian, and Montaigne. She writes in French in an American context in which cartography informs literary studies through the import of a good deal of theory, transported from France to the western hemisphere, that is treated with creative freedom. Author of a telling study of Rabelais and print-culture and a principal translator for the French edition of a book titled The Graphic Unconscious, Sauret has the vanguard virtue of knowing how to look at the surfaces of things. Her work is part of a dialogue engaged between various appreciations on one side of the Atlantic and the other of the ways that space may have been experienced in the early modern era.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Professor Tom Conley, Harvard University

“In her study of Renaissance maps and written texts, Martine Sauret artfully examines the two intersecting types of representation as transcriptions of voice and of the visual (“voix/voies”), showing how they “speak” and lead readers through the formation of the self and the social in the developing French nation. Proceeding from typographers and cartographers Geoffroy Tory and Oronce Finé to Rabelais and Montaigne, she examines points of conjunction as well as revealing problematic areas of contact between the image and the letter. Her own text mirrors those that she treats and the act of reading that she analyses: it creatively and fruitfully circles around and meanders, taking up elements of language, perspective, space, the imaginary and society from multiple and constantly moving points of view, moving skillfully between the close-up and the long view within each chapter. She looks at how the mapmakers, typographers and writers reprised, manipulated and added to medieval structures and elements in a new exploration of the unknown, through their inclusion of images of body parts and personal details creating a presence of self situated in the changing social context. Similarly, Sauret is a master at weaving pertinent references to the ideas of a variety of postmodern theorists and scholars through her investigation of the Renaissance imaginary, using them as “points de repère” in charting her own unique voyage through the constantly changing verbal/visual structures making up the social and mental aspects of her subject. Her chapters on Montaigne, in particular, give a nuanced reading of the diverse ways in which (cartographic) space is represented and creatively plays within the author’s texts (certain of his Essais and his Journal de voyage), including how they perform a social critique in their discovery and appreciation of the “other” and of self. This is a book that readers of contemporary theory of the visual as well as scholars of Renaissance literature and social history will appreciate and learn from.” – Dr. Cynthia Running-Johnson, Western Michigan University

“This book constitutes an audacious attempt at analyzing several aspects of the tumultuous shift in thinking that swept 16th century Europe. Dr. Sauret's has produced a masterful book documenting the profound transformation in the psyche of Renaissance scholars engendered by the availability of new representational media. Great integrative works such as this present the daunting task of requiring not only the mastery of distinct areas of knowledge but also the discovery of facts that are relevant to the understanding of the combined whole. Dr. Sauret is equally at ease describing the development of cartography as well as the evolution of French literature leading up to and including the 16th century. She successfully masters the integration challenge by managing to identify and combine often little known facts from those respective areas of knowledge into a truly unique look at the literature of the Renaissance … Dr. Sauret exhibits a talent for presenting many fascinating details without letting the reader lose track of the overall roadmap of her argument. Although her elegant writing style would satisfy the most erudite reader it does not mask the passion she has for the topic. Thanks to the easy flow of her prose, the reader is magically engulfed on a fantastic journey through the core of the Renaissance worldview. The newfound awareness by the Renaissance scholars of the many possible functions of the representational media at their disposal is amply illustrated in Dr. Sauret's work, along with her documentation of their fresh understanding and use of multiple perspectives in both their maps and written work. In addition to contributing to an innovative and in-depth view of 16th century French literature, her book is bound to have far reaching relevance for our understanding of the revolution of the mind we are currently experiencing with our ubiquitous use of electronic media.” – Professor Catherine Sullivan, College of St. Catherine

Table of Contents

Liste des Illustrations
Avant Propos et Remerciements
1. Introduction
2. Les visions du monde
3. Cartes antropomorphiques
4. Geoffoy Tory
5. Oronce Finé
6. Rabelais: la carte pour “voir”
7. Montaigne: l’ingénieux cartographe
8. Montaigne et les espaces anamorphiques dans le Journal
9. Conclusion