Deborah McGrady

title.none: Winn, Anthoine Vérard (McGrady)

identifier.other: baj9928.9906.003 99.06.03

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Deborah McGrady, Western Michigan University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1999

identifier.citation: Winn, Mary Beth. Anthoine Vérard: Parisian Publisher, 1485-1512. Prologues, Poems and Presentations. Travaux d'Humanisme et Renaissance, no. CCCXIII. Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1997. Pp. 555. ISBN: 2-600-00219-7.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 99.06.03

Winn, Mary Beth. Anthoine Vérard: Parisian Publisher, 1485-1512. Prologues, Poems and Presentations. Travaux d'Humanisme et Renaissance, no. CCCXIII. Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1997. Pp. 555. ISBN: 2-600-00219-7.

Reviewed by:

Deborah McGrady
Western Michigan University

Mary Beth Winn's study of the early-Renaissance publisher, Antoine Vérard, is a valuable contribution to the growing body of research that examines the early years of print. While scholarship by Walter Ong, Marshall McLuhan, Elizabeth Eisenstein, and Roger Chartier have extensively investigated the impact of print on society and on individual texts, rare has been the discussion of how those involved in producing texts sought to control the printed book through texts and images. An important exception is Cynthia J. Brown's recent book, Poets, Patrons, and Printers, in which writers' efforts to control their printed works through paratextual additions are examined. Winn's new study, dedicated exclusively to one of Francés most formidable and prolific publishers, counterbalances Brown's emphasis on writers by offering insight into one publisher's attempts to inscribe his authority in the printed book. Winn examines repeated occurrences in Vérard's books in which he uses text and image to promote his own identity as a "material" author.

Rare is a book of such depth and scope that provides a catalogue of images and prologues by a single publisher alongside thought-provoking commentary on patronage, authorship, book production, and audience. The present study goes well beyond McFarlanés 1900 catalogue of Vérard. It both corrects McFarlanés text by including works he failed to list and enhances his work by providing transcriptions of the prologues Vérard authored, reproduction of images he ordered, and analysis of these materials. Drawing from the two hundred and eighty editions attributed to Vérard, Winn's study contains eighty-six image reproductions, all twenty-six paratextual writings attributed to the publisher, individual analysis of each of Vérard's compositions, and an overview of his production of deluxe editions.

Winn organizes her analysis in five chapters and seven appendices. Some of the material presented represents revised versions of previously published essays. The first chapter provides a brief biography of Antoine Vérard who worked as a publisher and bookseller at the turn of the century. Vérard enjoys the uniqueness of being the first publisher to produce a printed Book of Hours in France (1485) and the first Parisian publisher to receive from Louis XII a privilege, giving him exclusive rights to print and sell certain books over a period of three years. Winn vividly details his overarching authority as a publisher, noting that he worked with more than twenty printers, eleven patrons, and key contemporary authors, such as Jean Lemaire de Belges, Jean Bouchet, André de la Vigne, Jean Molinet, and Octovien de Saint-Gelais. Vérard's books and archival records reveal that he involved himself in every aspect of book making, including selecting, translating, editing, illustrating, financing, commissioning, publicizing, and delivering the book.

Although the title of chapter 2 -- "Author-Donor" -- suggests that it will examine the patronage relationship and the important role attributed to benefactors, the chapter concentrates primarily on Vérard's appropriation of the author's role as creator of the book artifact through dedicatory images and texts. In fact, Winn's discussion of deluxe copies produced for individual patrons reveals that prologues and images, while referring to the individual patrons, served to flesh out the publisher who detailed the reason for producing the present work and recalled previous works produced for the named patron. Winn also examines Vérard's habit of replacing prologues composed by the writers of the text with his own prologues, which are often closely modeled after the original.

Chapter 3 examines Vérard's relationship with contemporary authors whose work he published. Through a study of the praise and critiques of poets such as Jean Lemaire de Belges, Octavien de Saint-Gelais, and Guillaume Tardif for Vérard, Winn explores the publisher's attempts to negotiate a new and essential role for himself. Winn argues that through textual emendations and visual material, Vérard endeavored to reconstruct the traditional author-patron relationship by introducing himself as a novel third component. The examples of Vérard's rewriting of texts, elimination, or replacement of unknown writer's with recognized names documents some of the radical strategies used by publishers in their effort to wrest control of the book from the author. In many respects, the chapter complements Cynthia J. Brown's study of early-print authors' efforts to maintain control of the literary artifact. Whereas Brown focuses primarily on authors' strategies for assuring that no one, including the publisher succeeds in usurping the writer's role, Winn concentrates on one publisher's ingenious exploitation of print to secure patronage for himself and to strengthen his claims of "material authorship."

The penultimate chapter breaks down Vérard's texts according to their recipient. This approach allows Winn to consider the publisher's different strategies used to attract and accommodate specific patrons. Winn groups Vérard's works according to their ownership and surveys the terminology, iconography, and book topics used by Vérard to win their patronage. The chapter includes discussion of the libraries of Charles VIII, Louis XII, Anne de Bretagne, Henry VII, the count of Angoule`me, Louise de Savoie, François I, Anne de Beaujeu, Jean d'Albert, Georges d'Amboise, and Madeleine d'Amboise. Unfortunately, the chapter is slightly marred by a few misidentifications of images (p. 124: fig 4.16 read 4.19; p. 132: fig 4.8 read 4.7; p. 134: fig. 4.9 should read 4.8; p. 161: 5.8a read 5.8b ) and in two cases, captions do not correspond to images (4.15 and 4.16 should be reversed). In spite of these errors, chapter 4 offers compelling evidence that Vérard strove to simultaneously accommodate his donors and assure his own monetary profit through the production of deluxe copies of books in high demand.

Over half the book's 556 pages is given to chapter 5, which contains a critical edition of Vérard's own compositions. It is a treasure trove of twenty-two prologues and four poems attributed to Vérard. Alongside the transcription of all twenty-six texts, Winn offers references to the extant copies of the text, a list of references, accompanying images, and a discussion of the text's pertinent issues and relevant scholarship. Each follow-up discussion includes insightful information on such topics as the history of textual and visual variants, and the use of specific vocabulary. In examples where Vérard has simply "retouched" a prologue originally composed by the author, the alterations between the two versions are specifically developed. It is through this close analysis that Winn successfully convinces her readers of Vérard's attempts to redefine his role as the book's material author.

A rich collection of appendices provides yet additional information pertinent to the study of Vérard's publishing history. The collection includes archival documents concerning Vérard, the Angoule`me accounts of books received from the publisher, tables of books prepared for patrons and books including author portraits, a review of later editions that retain Vérard's authored prologues, a list of printers employed by the printer, and a summary of Vérard editions not included in Macfarlanés 1900 study of Vérard.

Winn's study of Vérard is a delight to read not only because of the important information it provides but also because it uncovers tantalizing information that encourages further study. For example, Winn notes that Vérard often replaces authors' references to a larger reading audience with allusions to a small noble-based audience, that he frequently incorporates dedication texts and images identifying one patron in books presented to other potential patrons, and that he excludes his patrons' names in only four prologues, which are also the only prologues in which his name appears. One would have liked for Winn to comment on possible causes for Vérard's actions, but she evokes the information only to reflect on its oddity, leaving answers to future scholarship. Indeed, her queries will certainly spark the interest of more than one scholar to search Vérard's works for answers to these and other questions that Winn's delightful book elicits. Scholars will undoubtedly appreciate the investigative work undertaken by Winn and recognize the rich resource she has provided the academic community in publishing textual and visual evidence of Vérard's efforts to promote his unique position as a Renaissance publisher. Unquestionably, Winn's study on Vérard will become a classic reference book for anyone dealing with book history.