From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A fall from his horse compelled Brantôme to retire into private life about 1589, and he spent his last years in writing his Memoirs of the illustrious men and women whom he had known. Its best known volume is Vie des dames galantes. Brantôme left distinct orders that his manuscript should be printed; a first edition appeared late (1665-1666), 51 years after his death, and not very complete.
Unreliable narrator and gossip
Brantôme can hardly be regarded as a historian proper, and his Memoirs cannot be accepted as a very trustworthy source of information. But he writes in a quaint conversational way, pouring forth his thoughts, observations or facts without order or system, and with the greatest frankness and naiveté. His works certainly gave an admirable picture of the general court-life of the time, with its unblushing and undisguised profligacy. There is not an homme illustre or a dame galante in all his gallery of portraits who hasn't engaged in what Medieval Christian prescriptions as well as the Victorian society would regard as sexual immorality; and yet the whole is narrated with the most complete unconsciousness that there is anything objectionable in their conduct. Besides the general promiscuity of the characters, some parts of the work depict in a more or less detailed fashion the practices of homosexualism (almost exclusively lesbianism, see donna con donna), cunnilingus, and, marginally, sado-masochism (although the persons engaging in these activities usually aren't identified by name). It also contains a rather long and explicit description of the female intimate parts in general, focusing on their diversity.
Works of Pierre de Bourdeille
- Vie des hommes illustres et grands capitaines français
- Vie des grands capitaines étrangers
- Vie des dames illustres
- Vie des dames galantes
- Anecdotes touchant les duels
- Rodomontades et jurements des Espagnols.
- Tous ses écrits n'ont été publiés que longtemps après sa mort, Leyde, 1666, 10 volumes in-12.
- Œuvres Du Seigneur De Brantome. Nouvelle édition, considerablement augmentée, revue, accompagnée de Remarques historiques & critiques, & distribuée dans un meilleur ordre. A La HATE, Aux dépens du Libraire, 1740*
- Œuvres Du Seigneur De Brantome. Nouvelle édition, considerablement augmentée, revue, accompagnée de Remarques historiques & critiques, & distribuée dans un meilleur ordre. A Londres, Aux dépens du Libraire, 1779
- Au Template:XIXe siècle, Monmerqué, en 1822, Prosper Mérimée et Louis Lacour de La Pijardière, en 1858, en ont donné des éditions plus complètes. Ludovic Lalanne les Œuvres complètes, in-8, 1865 et années suivantes.
- Discours sur les duels, Éditions Sulliver, 2000
Brantôme left distinct orders that his manuscript should be printed; a first edition appeared late (1665-1666) and not very complete. Later editions include:
- one in 15 volumes (1740)
- another by Louis Jean Nicolas Monmerque (1780-1860) in 8 volumes (1821-1824), reproduced in Buchan's Pantheon littéraire
- that of the Bibliotheque elzevirienne, begun (1858) by Prosper Mérimée and L. Lacour, and finished, with vol. xiii., only in 1893
- and Ludovic Lalanne's edition for the Société de l'histoire de France (12 vols, 1864-1896).
The edition of L. Lalanne was the first to indicate the Spanish, Italian and French sources on which Brantôme drew, but it did not utilize all the existing manuscripts. It was only after Lalanne's death that the earliest were obtained for the Bibliotèque Nationale. At Paris and at Chantilly (Musée Conde) all Brantôme's original manuscripts, as revised by him several times, are now collected (see the Bibliothèque de l'école des Charles, 1904),and a new and definitive edition has therefore become possible. Brantôme's poems (which amount to more than 2200 verses) were first published in 1881; see Lalanne's edition.
- The work was published in 2 volumes by the Golden Cockerel Press under the title The Lives of the Gallant Ladies in 1924 with woodcuts by Robert Gibbings.