Informed Chaos: Textual Sources in Editing Villon form Marot to the Nineteenth Century
Clément Marot was the first editor of François Villon's work (1533) to comment publicly on the editing task and the sources used. He said he drew from Gothic editions, old men who had memorized passages, and his own natural judgment. Nothing was added during the long reign of this edition or the era of anthologized poems in the seventeenth century
Shortly after his induction into the Académie Française Bernard de la Monnoye announced (1714) his intention to reedit Villon, a promise whose fulfillment was much anticipated, but un-kept. The Le Coustelier edition (1723) added marginal variants from early editions. The Marchand and Duchat edition discusses lessons from print sources and made vague references to manuscripts. In the same century, scholars read and transcribed Villon's works in manuscripts, O, C , P and R and the Jardin de Plaisance (J).
My presentation will trace these steps taken to explore and openly discuss especially the manuscript sources of Villon's poetry. We will examine how nineteenth-century editors, working with additional manuscripts, introduced their readings into varia lectio and expanded the text, while either totally ignorant of or trying to cover up the trail forged by their predecessors. This is especially true of Lenglet-Dufresnoy's unfinished edition, whose notes were misidentified by Janet (1876), an error which mislead twentieth-century scholars, which persists into the digital age.