First complete posthumous edition, partly original. Edited by Marie de Gournay, Montaigne’s covenant daughter.
The privilege for this edition was shared between the printers L’Angelier and Sonnius.
After Montaigne’s death on 13 September 1592, the discovery of a copy of the 1588 edition of the Essays, heavily annotated by the author, led to this new, corrected and expanded edition, given by Mademoiselle de Gournay. This edition, in which the Bordeaux poet Pierre de Brach collaborated and which included 1,409 additions taken from Montaigne’s personal copy, established the definitive text of the Essays. Mademoiselle de Gournay, who wanted this edition to be as close as possible to Montaigne’s thought, prefaced the text of the 1595 edition with a long explanatory preface which she corrected in the 1598 edition : “[Cette édition] n’est pas si loing de la perfection, qu’on soit asseuré si les suyvantes la pourront approcher d’aussi pres, elle est au moins diligemment redressée par un Errata: sauf en quelques si légères fautes, qu’elles se restituent elles mesmes. Et de peur qu’on ne reiecte comme temerairement ingerez certains traictz de plume qui corrigent cinq ou six characteres, ou que quelqu’un à leur adveu n’en meslast d’autres de sa teste : ie donne advis qu’ils sont en ces mots, si, demesler, deuil, osté, Indique, estacade, affreré, paelle, m’a, engagez, & quelques poincts de moindre consequence. Je ne puis apporter trop de précaution ny de curiosité, sur une chose de tel merite, & non mienne”.
Edition entirely corrected and edited by Marie de Gournay
Having learned, that this edition had already been printed Marie de Gournay rushed to printers in order to check the production and make corrections where needed: “It is clear that exceptional care was taken to ensure the accuracy of this edition. This was no doubt partly due to the vigilance of the printer [L’Angelier had in fact already printed an earlier edition in 1588, and he produced 4 further ones until 1604] but especially due to the zeal of Mlle de Gournay. “Probably working on the sheets before binding, she corrected by hand about twenty further errors and these ink-corrections are found in almost all copies. Since Mlle de Gournay explains and lists these ink corrections at the end of her preface we may assume that the last page of the preface was printed after the first series of ink-corrections. ” (Sayce).
It is also due to Marie de Gournay’s efforts that his edition contains the introduction as written by Montaigne but that had been lost since his death. “Montaigne’s Au lecteur, corrected by the author, was not available when printing started. Mlle de Gournay explained this later when was at the Château de Montaigne and was able to supply the corrected text to printers who might produce new editions of the Essais: ‘Cette préface corrigée de la dernière main de l’autheur ayant esté égarée en la première impression depuis sa mort, a naguere esté retrouvée. Montaigne’s Au lecteur is lacking in the Sonnius copies but it was made good in nearly all the L’Angelier ones” (Sayce).
Having befriended Montaigne since 1584, Marie de Gournay “had found in his thoughts a kindred mind. A year and half after Montaigne death his widow Françoise de La Chassaigne sent to Marie de Gournay in Paris one of the final drafts of the Essais to have them printed. Françoise also included Marie de Gournay’s novella, which had been found in his papers, and invited to visit her and her daughter Léonor. Marie published her Novella that year, and in the following year produced the 1595 posthumous edition of the Essais with a long preface by herself as editor. Her literary career begun, she spent about 16 months from early 1595 to 1597 at the Château of Montaigne. Here she continued her friendship with Montaigne through friendship with his widow and daughter and through long hours of work in the tower lined with the thousands of volumes which had inspired Montaigne’s essays. Eight more editions where to appear through her editorship” (Maryanne Cline Horowitz, Marie de Gournay, Editor of the Essais of Michel de Montaigne, in : Sixteenth Century Journal, XVII, 3).
This copy contains at least 17 autograph corrections by Marie de Gournay :
Part I : preface, leaf i2r line 38; p.7, line 1 ; p.23, lines 11 & 18 ; p. 114 line 15 ; p. 175, line 38 ; p. 201, line 2 ; p. 339 line 41 ; p. 445, line 28 ; p. 449, line 34 ; p. 454, line 24.
Part II: p. 30, line 10 ; p. 32, line 35 ; p. 39, line 21 ; p. 77, line 26 ; p. 113, line 21 ; p. 138, line 24.
Cancels for pages 63-64 et 69, the errata leaf is in first state (with 46 errors) and bears the printed title Fautes à corriger en l’Impression de quelques Exemplaires, pages 87-88 are misnumbered 96-97, and page 92 misnumbered 76. The verso of the title with the printer’s privilege dated 15 Octobre 1594. The Avis by Montaigne, not present in all copies, is here to be found on the verso of the last index leaf of the index.
Some occasional spotting or staining but generally a fine copy.
Liste complète des corrections par Mlle de Gournay, pas identique pour chacun des exemplaires :
Préface feuillet i2r ligne 38
7 ligne 1
8 ligne 23 (Vicka en Zischa)
16 ligne 23
23 lignes 11 & 18
39 ligne 6
40 ligne 24
114 ligne 15 + 31
175 ligne 38
184 ligne 5
201 ligne 2
264 ligne 1
339 lignes 41 & 43
445 ligne 28
449 ligne 34
454 ligne 24
30 ligne 10
32 ligne 35
39 ligne 21
77 ligne 26
103 ligne 12
113 ligne 21
138 ligne 24