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An Errant Eye

An Errant Eye: Poetry and Topography in Early Modern France

Tom Conley
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    An Errant Eye
    Book Description:

    An Errant Eye studies how topography developed literary and visual form in early modern France. Arguing for a ‘new poetics of space’ ranging throughout French Renaissance poetry, prose, and cartography, Tom Conley performs dazzling readings of maps, woodcuts, and poems to plot a topographical shift in the late Renaissance in which space, subjectivity, and politics fall into crisis.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7501-2
    Subjects: Geography

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: A Snail’s Eye
    (pp. 1-26)

    Lost in the labyrinth, adrift in the ruins of a palace of memory, the hero of Francesco Colonna’sSonge de Poliphile(the French translation, dated 1546, of theHypnerotomachia poliphiliiof 1499), a lavishly illustrated novel of quest, erotic venture, and pagan initiation, wanders about without resolve. Groping in darkness, he does not know how to proceed or where to go until it dawns on him that he ought to become a snail to better touch the things in his midst:

    Et combien que mes yeux se trouuassent aucunement accoustumez a ces tenebres, toutesfois ie ne pouoie rien veoir: parquoy...

  5. 1 Rabelais: Worlds Introjected
    (pp. 27-52)

    A map of the world unfolds from a pocket book in duodecimo (Figures 6 and 7). The edition of Antonini Augusti’sItinerarium provinciarumby Geoffroy Tory (1480?–1533), published in 1512, is emblematic of the relation of topography to cosmography in the early years of the French Renaissance. It shows what readers familiar with Ptolemy could have made of the distinction between local and global spaces.¹ The Alexandrian’sGeographia,translated into Latin in 1407 and known to have existed since 160 CE is often prefaced by amappa mundithat stands before twenty-six projections of the countries and regions of the...

  6. 2 The Apian Way
    (pp. 53-80)

    In the eleventh chapter of hisCosmographie,“Des diverses sortes de la mensure, ou especes de géographie” (Of diverse kinds of measure or sorts of geography), Pieter Apian remarks that the road pilgrims follow en route to Santiago de Compostela can easily be found on any of Ptolemy’s regional maps. He situates the Galician city according to coordinates of latitude and longitude: “Et Compostelle ou Saint Jacques, auquel on faict maintz voyages, pour le corps de Sainct Iaques, contient en longueur 5. degrez 8. minutes en largeur 44. degrez 13 minutes.” [And Compostela or Saint James, to which many voyages...

  7. 3 A Landscape of Emblems: Corrozet and Holbein
    (pp. 81-116)

    The design of Pieter Apian’s manual of cosmography, studied in the preceding chapter, is patently emblematic. The woodcut images that feature ocular figures and their adjacent textual matter invite meditation and action: meditation, insofar as the sight of the world in a polar projection or as a “cosmographic mirror” inspires thought about from where and how the observer can see and touch his or her milieu; action, when correlation of the images with the appended account of the four continents allows readers to extend their reach into the world at large. Now and again, where the textual signs and images...

  8. 4 A Poet in Relief: Maurice Scève
    (pp. 117-148)

    Maurice Scève has become an industry in French studies. Cursory review of catalogues in every major library reveals the irony that works on the poet abound but that original editions of his writing are few and far between. Now and again a library may own a copy ofDélie: Obiect de plus haulte vertu(1544),Saulsaye(1547), or the royal entry he prepared for Henry II’s visit to his city (1549) for which he was a principal designer. A later edition ofDélie(1564) might be found, or perhaps a copy of hisMicrocosme(1552). After that little comes forward until the...

  9. 5 Ronsard in Conflict: A Writer out of Place
    (pp. 149-176)

    One of the tasks of the two preceding chapters was to determine some spatial and topical modes of creation in books of emblems and poems in which woodcut images are found. It was observed that emblems draw on cartographic form and develop spatial modes of their own, and that in the hands of Scève and his collaborators poetry is altered to generate intense speculation about the desiring self, about where it moves in the ambient world, and the nature of its relations with cartographic idioms. In the 1530s and 1540s, innovation and experiment with the printed and illustrated book appear...

  10. 6 Montaigne and His Swallows
    (pp. 177-200)

    In “De la description d’aulcune region en plain, la latitude, longitude & distance estans incogneues” (On the description of any region on a flat plane where latitude, longitude and distance are unknown), the first chapter of his appendix to Pieter Apian’sCosmographie, Livret de la raison, & maniere d’escrire les lieux, & d’iceulx trouver les distances oncques paravant veu(Book of the method and manner of plotting places, and from them finding distances never before seen), Gemma Frisius describes what it takes to make an informed measurement of where one is.¹ Both geometry and a sense of place are key....

  11. Conclusion: A Tactile Eye
    (pp. 201-208)

    The reader of Monique Pelletier’s exhaustive study (2009) of the development of the maps of France and its provinces from early printed editions of Ptolemy at the end of the fifteenth century to François de la Guillotière’s meticulously detailedCharte de France(drawn from 1570 to 1584, but published over thirty years later) immediately discerns the rapid evolution of topography from a condition of abstraction to that of close and painstaking representation of the French nation and its provinces. In the course of a century depictions of the greater world appear quickly superseded by many more of the places in...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 209-228)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-240)
  14. Index
    (pp. 241-248)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 249-249)