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Durham University

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Publication details for Prof John O'Brien

O'Brien, John (2014). Gournay’s Gift: A Special Presentation Copy of the 1595 Essais of Montaigne. The Seventeenth Century 29(4): 317-336.

Author(s) from Durham


A remarkable copy of the 1595 Essais of Montaigne at Maynooth offers a particularly full set of corrigenda in the hand of Marie de Gournay. Her many textual improvements are tabulated and their significance discussed. At the same time, this copy also carries an extensive manuscript emendation by Gournay to a crucial passage in Chapter II.17 of the Essais, as well as her handwritten inscription to a certain Beringhen. The dedicatee is identified as Henri de Beringhen and it is argued that Gournay’s corrections and inscriptions date from the early 1620s when she attended the salon of Beringhen’s aunt, Madame des Loges. The Maynooth copy as a whole provides a critical insight into the social and literary circles in which Gournay moved at the time as well as supplying further evidence of her continuing editorial work on the Essais in the framework of her own career.