Nicolas Filleul's Le Discours

Author: Hartley, David
The 117 sonnets of Nicolas Filleul's Discours are published here for the first time since their appearance in print in Rouen in 1560. The author was a minor provincial poet, who later had a successful career as a court poet and dramatist, frequently working in the service of the Queen Mother, Catherine dé Medici. The sonnets treat a diversity of themes. Filleul addresses poems to his two mistresses, aims satirical attacks at what he perceives as current abuses, and deals with a range of moral issues, speculating on the nature of honour and reputation, and the advantages of simple pleasures away from the life of the court. Among ancient authors, his principal model is Horace. He is also much indebted to Ronsard's love poetry and to Du Bellay's Regrets, published two years earlier and, like the Discours, combining the elegiac, the satirical and the moral. The purpose of the current edition is to make available to those interested in the field of sixteenth-century French poetry a collection of verse which only survives in the great collections of Paris libraries, and to facilitate the reading and appreciation of Filleul's first publication. While the sonnets may be uneven in quality, they are testimony to the variety and richness of the poetry of the time, and to the enthusiasm with which French poets embraced the revolution brought about by Ronsard and his colleagues.


"Nicolas Filleul was one of the host of minor French poets who flourished in the second half of the sixteenth century, in the years following the publication of Du Bellay's Deffence et illustration de la langue françoise(1549) and the first of Ronsard's odes (1550). The 117 sonnets of Filleul's Discours, his first collection of verse, are edited here for the first time since their publication in Rouen in 1560. The interest of the sonnets lies in their considerable thematic range and in the way they relate to the poetic production of Filleul's predecessors and contemporaries ... This volume, with its clear text and careful annotation, is a welcome addition to our stock of critical editions of French poets of the Renaissance. Our appreciation of the major poets of the period is augmented by greater familiarity with their less gifted, though not untalented, contemporaries. As well as bringing to our attention a hitherto neglected collection of verse, it also enables readers, specialists and non-specialists alike, to understand more fully the debts which poets like Filleul owed to their masters." – (from the Commendatory Preface) Professor Alison Saunders, University of Aberdeen

"[The editor], whose expertise in elucidating and evaluating sixteenth-century French texts has been demonstrated in other works ... has produced a critical edition of a minor sixteenth-century poet that amply fulfils all the requirements for such a publication ... The text of the original (and so far only) edition of this collection of sonnets is reproduced meticulously and without editorial interference, thereby allowing future scholars all the latitude they need for comment and interpretation ... [The editor’s] exegesis serves the eminently practical purpose of making [the author’s] text comprehensible, and [the editor] does not venture into speculative interpretation beyond the literal meaning of the poems. What he does do very usefully is to suggest textual sources and parallels for passages and phrases, both in the works of the ancient authors from whom Filleul borrowed in the manner of his time and in the poems of the famous contemporaries with whom he obviously wished to align himself ... The readership for this edition will be researchers with a scholarly interest in the poetic production of sixteenth-century France ... [The editor’s] admirable edition of the Discours is likely to be bought automatically by specialists and by libraries aware of their obligations to the scholarly community to extend the corpus of texts readily accessible for research." – Ann Moss FBA, Professor of French Emeritus, Durham University

"In editing Nicolas Filleul's Discours, [the editor] allows us to appreciate the achievement of major sixteenth-century poets such as Du Bellay and Ronsard in the context of the works of their followers and admirers, and in so doing provides a fascinating insight into poetic production in the Renaissance ... The short summary which the editor provides after each poem is therefore very helpful, especially for readers who may not be altogether familiar with sixteenth-century French ... [the editor] offers annotations on the text which allow a full understanding of Filleul's message ... Thanks to these notes, we develop a good sense of Filleul's place in sixteenth-century literature, of the classical and Italian authors which were in favour at the time, and of the links binding the members of the circles in which he moved ... It will enable students to appreciate Filleul' s work, while providing scholars with a reliable and impeccably produced text." – Dr. Philip Ford, Clare College, Cambridge

Table of Contents

Preface by Alison Saunders
The Sonnets
Index of First Lines