hist-games: Re: Rabelais list of games

Thierry Depaulis thierry.depaulis at freesbee.fr
Thu Oct 24 06:01:27 PDT 2002

Justin wrote:

>Search on "Jeux" to find the chapter -- the game list makes up
>essentially the entire chapter.

It is, as all 16th-century French students know, chapter 22. It is
considered the best and longest list of games ever in the French
literature. It also impressed Rabelais's early translators, like Johann
Fischart (German, 1575) and "Claudio Gallitalo" (Dutch, 1682) who
*expanded* the list.

The English translator (Sir Thomas Urquhart, 1653), on the other hand, did not.

>What would be really useful would be for someone to sit down with both
>the French and the English translation, and correlate the names
>(assuming, of course, that they *do* correlate), so we can see what the
>French originals were for these English translations. That's not
>horribly difficult, just a bit of work.

This has already been done. In 1908 Michel Psichari published his series on
"Les jeux de Gargantua" (in 'Revue des Etudes Rabelaisiennes', VI) where
the author often compares the French words with what the English
translation has. Quite in the same time, but "abroad", a similar study was
published in Strasbourg, then a German city, by Heinrich Rausch ('Das
Spielverzeichnis im 25. Kapitel von Fischarts "Geschichtklitterung"
(Gargantua)', Strassburg, 1908), comparing the original French with the
longer list Fischart gave in his Gargantua adaptation. In German the list
has more than 300 games (while the French has a little more than 200, 220
exactly in the 1542 revised edition).

>translated as "Losing Load Him", and whether the translation appears
>spurious or not...

If we trust Randle Cotgrave's Dictionary (1611), who based his vocabulary
mainly on Rabelais, "loosing lodam" translates "Coquimbert qui gaigne perd"
(Coquimbert who wins loses). But this seems to have been a generic term to
mean any "reversed" game, like at Draughts.

In a second message Justin wrote:

>Oh, now this *is* fascinating. The 1534 edition that Imran cited, and
>the 1542 edition I did, are *wildly* different from each other. Search
>for "fleux" to find the beginning of the list in the first version, or
>"flux" in the second. While there's considerable overlap, the order is
>certainly rather different, and it appears at first glance that a lot of
>games have been dropped out and/or added in.


>Okay, so this problem is a little more complex than it appeared at first
>glance. I wonder which French edition the English translation comes

The easiest way is to check whether the list contains "Au Lansquenet" or
not (it's in the beginning, among the card games, i.e. the 35 or so first
games). If it does not, it's the 1534 edition. If it does it is the 1542
François Juste edition, the only one that was revised by Rabelais himself.

Hope this helps,

Thierry Depaulis

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