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Session of January 27

Lecture of M. Jean Céard, Professor Emeritus at the University Paris X-Nanterre, under the patronage of MM. Jacques JOUANNA and Michel ZINK : « The first critical edition of Ambroise Paré’s Works ».

Abstract : History of Renaissance medicine and natural sciences, at the present time, is increasingly studied in the framework of a cultural history of knowledge. Such researchs reveal the large lack of those essential working tools that are scholarly editions of texts. Among those texts, the most important French masterpiece is the Works of the surgeon Ambroise Paré (ca 1509-1590). A modern edition was produced, almost two centuries ago, by J.-F. Malgaigne, himself a surgeon, but resting on debatable editorial principles. However many of studies or translations widely use the Malgaigne edition. It is therefore necessary to establish a new edition which complies with the scholarship requirements.
This endeavour calls for a reflection on the state of surgery at the time and at first on the relationship of surgeons with writing. Paré took a long time to conceive the purpose of a book not only providing a full set of surgical procedures, but also assuming the idea of the eminent place of surgery among medical sciences and even within the divine creation. This goal required him to embrace the whole of medical and non medical literature. Therefore editors have to search his numerous direct and indirect sources, a work which may bring surprises. Paré happened to publish his Works thrice in ten years (1575, 1579, 1585), with sometimes important changes, some of which are highly significant. Limited to those three editions, the critical apparatus relies on a homogenous corpus, the history of the text being related in a preliminary note of each book of the Works. Furthermore let us not forget that the Works are richly illustrated with 375 engravings : Paré specifies that they may inspire painters, sculptors and engravers, a statement which shows that he had in mind also non medical readers and must deserve the attention of editors.

Key words : Renaissance ; Ambroise Paré ; medicine ; surgery ; critical edition.

Lecture of M. Frédéric Barbier, Director of studies at the Ephe (IVth section), under the patronage of M. Yves-Marie BERCÉ : « Autour du Narrenschiff, nouvelles perspectives de recherche. »


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