The printing office of Jacob Foillet and its novelistic production
modifié le: 2011-06-07

In 1586/87, Jacob Foillet (1554-1619) established the first printing office in Mömpelgard/Montbéliard, an enclave of Württemberg on French territory, that is of particular interest to our project. The initiator of the office's foundation was the dynamic Duke Friedrich I. (1557-1608), who also exerted considerable influence on the printing programme. But Foillet's production was not restricted to orders from the court : he also worked for the most important publishers in the great centres of book production, such as Lazarus Zetzner in Strasbourg and Sigmund Feyerabend in Frankfurt, to name just a few. To be sure, Foillet's work cannot compete with the production of those big offices, neither in quantity nor in quality ; nevertheless, it should not be underestimated.
Indeed, around 1600, Foillet's office acted as the major agent of novelistic literature between France and Germany. Having printed ten volumes of the famous Amadis serial, Foillet turned to the next literay genre in fashion : the pastoral romance. Thus he printed the first German translations of the two French contributions to this new genre. In 1595 he published the first volume of the Juliana, whose French version had been composed by Nicolas de Montreux only ten years before. It was to take more than twenty years until the Juliana was completed. On the eve of his death, Foillet printed the first volume of the much more successful Astrée by Honoré d'Urfé. While the latter became the object of comprehensive research, scholars took notice of the Juliana at best with regard to the diffusion of the sonnet form in German-speaking parts, as the first volume exhibits a few tentative steps to imitate this then still largely unknown poetic form. But it seems to be insufficient to reduce the merit of this first pastoral novel to the introduction of sonnet form. At least in a contemporary understanding, the Juliana was granted a great influence on the German vernacular language, which is indicated by the existence of the Juliana-Schatzkammer (1617). In imitation of the publication of the Amadis-Schatzkammer, Foillet printed this florilegium which assembles the rhetorical show-pieces of the Juliana.

Henrike Schaffert, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München


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