Richesse du proverbe,
études réunies par François Suard et
Claude Buridant. Vol. 1: Le Proverbe au Moyen Age;
vol. 2: Typologie et fonctions. Lille:
Université de Lille III, 1984, Pp. XIII, 162 and
These two volumes make available to
paremiologists communications presented at the Colloque de
Parémiologie held at Lille, March 6-8, 1981. The
first volume contains papers on medieval topics, the second
includes papers not only on the typology and function of
proverbs, but also on proverbs in the classical and modern
world. (The two volumes are independent of each other and
can be purchased separately.) Both volumes begin with an
"Avant-Propos" by Buridant, in which he addresses the
problem of the definition of the proverb. Buridant suggests
the directions the subsequent articles follow the proverb as
ethnologic source and the role of paroemia in
discourse. He also invites readers to continue
paremiological research, especially on precise problems and
on the vitality of twentieth-century French
proverbs.1 I summarize the articles in the order in which they appear
in the two volums.
The first is Anne-Marie Bautier's
"Peuples, provinces et villes dans la littérature
proverbiale latine du Moyen Age" which is more list than
analysis, though there is some useful examination of the
oral transmission of proverbs. A second contribution by
Claude Buridant, "Les Proverbes et la prédication au
Moyen Age," is subtitled "De l'utilisation des proverbes
vulgaires dans les sermons," and is an analysis of the
sources of proverbs for authors of sermons, reflections on
the coining of proverbs, the uses of proverbs in sermons,
all as an illumination of the mentalité of the
medieval preacher and his audience.
Juliette De Caluwé-Dor, in "Les
Proverbes de Hendyng: Héroïsme païen,
Charité chrétienne et Réalisme
bourgeois," provides a brief introduction to the Middle
English Proverbs of Hendyng, followed by a modern
French translation of same. Pierre Demarolle's "Autour de la
"Ballade des proverbes": Aspects logiques de la
poésie de Françoise Villon," analyzes Villon's
poem, placing emphasis on the importance of the intellectual
environment for the poem to be understood by its audience.
Jean-Claude Faucon's "La Sagesse populaire au service du
roi: De l'utilisation des proverbes par un chroniqueur du
XIVe siècle," is an analysis of proverbs in the verse
chronicle by Cuvelier on the life of Bertrand du Guesclin
where the use of proverbs reassures the audience, for whom
proverbs are perceived as a sort of consolation--a fixed
point in a world turned upside down by the Hundred Years'
Eric Hicks' "Proverbe et
polémique dans le Roman de la Rose de Jean de
Meun" shows the importance of proverbs in dialogue to cut
short arguments or to elevate a speaker's estimation of
himself. Antoinette Saly in "Les Proverbes dans le Meliacin de Girart d'Amiens: Aspect et fonction" sees
proverbs as indicative of the temperament, taste and style
of the author and his audience; more interesting is her
discussion of latent proverbs, proverbs assimilated into the
text, but whose source is still recognizable.
In "La Fonction des proverbes dans les
chansons de geste des XIVe, et XVe siècles"
François Suard speaks of the importance of proverbs
in the chansons de geste from the twelfth century on.
As the genre changes in time, so does its use of proverbial
material; nonetheless, proverbs maintain the aura of
"reality" as opposed to the "fiction" of romance. The title
describes accurately the content of Alain-Julien Surdel's
essay, "Typologie et stylistique des locutions sententieuses
dans Le Mystère de S. Didier de Langres de
Guillaume Flamant (1482)."
Volume II, Typologie du
proverbe has a more varied collection of essays. Claude
Balavoine in "Les Principes de la parémiographie
érasmienne" discusses Erasmus' definition and
collection of adages, his commentary on and method of
organization of the material; the whole as an example of
humanist culture. The "Proposition d'une méthodologie
d'analyse des logiques d'un corpus proverbial" of Fernando
Belo offers a philosophico-semantic theorization of proverbs
based on Portuguese examples.
Catherine Bloc-Duraffour's "Traitement
de la logique des rôles narratifs dans les proverbes
italiens" provides a structural analysis of proverbs,
culminating in an organization of the récit of
Italian proverbs. Evelyne Brouzeng discusses in her
"Stylistique comparée de la traduction de proverbes
anglais et français" the need to find equivalent
proverbs for use in translation, a problem complicated by
the differing form of proverbs in different languages. She
comments that equivalent proverbs in two languages can shed
light on the nature of the language in question.
Pierre Cazier's contribution, "Les Sentences d'Isidore de Séville, genre
littéraire et procédés stylistiques,"
demonstrates that Isidore used proverbial material as the
framework of the Sentences. Cazier argues that the
late-classical author referred to the auctoritas of
proverbs to augment his pedagogic efforts. Charles Guiraud
in his "Structure linguistique des proverbes latins" shows
that there are semantic differences between classical Latin
and Greek proverbs and that proverbs found in Latin
literature seem fairly distant from their popular source. In
"Le Concept de paromia: proverbium dans la haute et
la basse antiquité," Anna Maria Ieraci-Bio examines
the definitions of proverbs in the classical world in order
to understand the significance of proverbs in Greco-Roman
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The full text of this
article is published in De
Proverbio - Issue 11:2000 & Issue
electronic book, available from amazon.com and other leading Internet booksellers.
These two volumes form an outstanding
collection of articles on a number of wide-ranging issues of
concern to paremiologists. The variety of subjects and
approaches makes Richesse du proverbe a valuable work
indeed, deserving of its title.
Previously published in Proverbium 2 (1985), pp. 353-358.
Permission to publish this article granted by Proverbium (Editor: Prof. Wolfgang Mieder, University
of Vermont, USA).
1 Cf. the catalogue on the
use and vitality of French proverbs currently being
developed by Monique Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge, 252 Oude Baan,
B-3000 Louvain, Belgium.
Classical and Modern Languages
University of Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky 40292