Antoine de la Sale’s ’Petit Jehan de Saintré’ and the Comte de Tressan. Libertinage, gallantry and French identity in an eighteenth-century adaptation
Roberta L. Krueger
Roberta L. Krueger, « Antoine de la Sale’s ’Petit Jehan de Saintré’ and the Comte de Tressan. Libertinage, gallantry and French identity in an eighteenth-century adaptation », Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes, 30, 2015, 329-351.
For Jean-François Bastide, general editor of the eighteenth-century literary digest the Bibliothèque universelle des romans1, medieval and other early fictions represented fertile ground for modern authors, a “pays de conquête où l’on peut se permettre tout ce que l’on veut”2. Since most readers would not have known the original, preserved in manuscripts or incunables held in private libraries, nothing prevented an author from imposing his tastes on the narrative as he abridged it into an “extrait” or a “miniature”, in keeping with the BUR’s goals of making all manner of epics, romances, and other narratives throughout history accessible to and comprehensible for a broad public of readers. The vast “pays de conquête” of medieval romance proved irresistible for the elderly Louis-Élisabeth de la Vergne, Comte de Tressan (1705-1783), former childhood companion of Louis XV, retired statesman and military officer, who became a prolific adaptor of medieval romances for the BUR and other venues from 1775 until his death.