[ANON.] Maistre Pierre Pathelin

[ANON.], Maistre Pierre Pathelin.

Paris, Etienne Groulleau, 1564.


12mo, ff. 52, A-F8 G4. Roman and Italic letter. T-p vignette showing a rondel with thistle and motto: “patere aut absinte – nul ne s’y frote”. Seven woodcuts in the text. Light age yellowing and occasional waterstains. Private library bookplate (“Bibliothèque de M.r le Comte Lanjuinais”), most likely this book comes from the collection of the French politician and jurist Jean-Denis Lanjuinais (1753-1827). Rebound in a lovely 19th-century gilt-ruled red morocco binding by E. Niedret, gilt spine with title, green silk bookmark, inner dentelles, marble pastedowns, a.e.g.. Second part missing. A fine copy.


This lovely copy can be listed among the early editions of this fifteenth-century anonymous farce in French. However, the farce of Maistre Pierre Pathelin has been printed several times during the first half of the sixteenth century. It was extraordinarily popular in its day and held an influence on popular theatre for over a century. Its echoes can be seen in the works of Rabelais. A number of phrases from the play became proverbial in French, such as the phrase: ‘Let us return to our muttons’ (‘retournons à nos moutons’) even became a common English calque.


Bibliography: Tissier, Farces, No. 7; Du Verdier pp. XX6v, p. 1080 [sic], Brunet vol. 4, pp. 435. Not in BM.