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2003-2004 Visiting Fellows

Daisy Aaronian
Columbia University

My month at Princeton University Library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections on a Visiting Fellowship was both productive and stimulating. Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Princeton Library (with partial sponsorship from the Council of the Humanities), I was able to make significant progress on my dissertation and book project on the 1595 (Geneva) edition of Montaigne's Essais, using Princeton's materials. In the process, I was delighted to discover Rare Books' impressive collection of Montaigne editions, one of the most extensive in the world. I also had the pleasure of working with a helpful and knowledgeable staff and meeting several new colleagues while at Princeton.

I began working with Princeton's edition of the 1595 Essais,, a book censored and expurgated by Calvinist pastor Simon Goulart, several years ago. Since then it has become the principal source for my dissertation and for the critical edition I am preparing for publication. Princeton also possesses an original copy of the 1593 Essais,, the edition from which the 1595 edition was produced. Spending one month in Rare Books enabled me to copy and edit a large portion of the 1595 Essais, from the original source (it has never been re-published or edited) and to consult the 1593 edition as a reference. As this is an ongoing project, I estimate it will bring me back to Princeton repeatedly for the next year or so. (However, now that I have received a microfilm of the book, it will help matters considerably.) In addition, hands-on access to these rare editions allowed me to investigate the material and bibliographical aspects of the books (format, organization, collation, paratext, etc), information necessary for any discussion of the editions and central to the second chapter of my dissertation. I also devoted several days to comparing type and ornament of 1595 (Geneva) with that of several other late-sixteenth century Genevan books - notably those of Jean de Tournes - in order to investigate the book's printer (still unknown).

As a section of my dissertation addresses the production of 1595 (Geneva) and the context for its appearance, I wanted to examine Rare Books' wide array of early Montaigne editions. As I conducted this research, it became clear to me that your Montaigne collection is truly exceptional. Works I consulted include Genevan editions from 1602 (Jean Doreau) and 1609 (Jehan Doreau), several early English translations such as the Essayes; or, Morall, politike and millitarie discourses (1603) and Essays written in French by Michael Lord of Montaigne (1613) and two rather fascinating "reduced" editions the Essais, from the seventeenth century, entitled L'Esprit des Essais, (1677) and Pensées de Montaigne (1700), both of which I cite in my dissertation. Quite unexpectedly, I discovered materials in Rare Books that shed new light on my project, namely an abridged Italian edition of the Essais, entitled Discorsi morali, politici, et militari (1590) and an (uncensored) Italian edition entitled Saggi di Michel Sig. di Montagna (1633). I discovered that the Discorsi morali in fact offers an even more drastically reduced version of the Essais, than that of 1595 (Geneva). When I explored the wonderful book stacks of your Main Library, I found a sampling of scholarship pertaining to these Italian editions, providing new secondary sources for my project.

I devoted approximately one week of my stay at Princeton to the examination of several works by the prolific Simon Goulart (Rare Books possesses a remarkable 51 books by little-known Goulart). A section of my dissertation, which provides an argument for Goulart as the censor of the Essais, (undisputed but still unproven) was aided by an examination of his compilation Histoires admirables et memorables de notre temps (from 1607, though appearing in many editions). By investigating the Histoires, in which Goulart borrowed several passages from the Essais,, I could observe the way in which he manipulated Montaigne's text there and determine which edition of the Essais, he read. I also located certain intertexts between Goulart and Montaigne by looking at Goulart's historically important Memoires de l'estat de France sous Charles neuviesme (1578), a collection that Montaigne references on several occasions. This helped me solidify a section of my dissertation on the literary relations between Goulart and Montaigne.

I would like to extend a special thanks to AnnaLee Pauls, Steve Ferguson and Margaret Rich for their expert advice and guidance. I would also like to mention the helpfulness and warmth of the book room staff (who helped me with things as mundane as where to find miscellaneous items in Princeton). In addition, while at Princeton I had the pleasure of meeting several faculty members in my field, including Robert Darnton and Anthony Grafton, specialists in History of the Book, and I became acquainted with Princeton's Center for the Study of Books and Media. Once more, I wish to thank the Friends of the Princeton Library and the Council of the Humanities for giving me the opportunity to work at your wonderful library. Finally, may I offer one suggestion: a gift shop! Cards and books illustrating your special exhibits and original holdings would be greatly appreciated and enjoyed by visitors to the Department of Rare Books.


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