8vo (164 x 102 mm). Collation: A-V8.  leaves. Bâtarde type, shoulder notes. Title printed in red and black within four-part metalcut border with grotesques and flowering plants, full-page metalcut of the Trinity and All Saints on title verso. Metalcut and woodcut 5-line initials. Foremargins of ff. D2-4 with tear not affecting text, a few other minor marginal defects; title a bit frayed and soiled, some overall darkening. Modern red morocco, gilt edges. Provenance: G. Le Noir, 18th-century signature on title; College Louis le Grand, Paris, 18th-century inkstamp on title; with Librairie Henner, 1983, sold to: Guy Bechtel. ***
Third or fourth extant edition of this popular devotional work by a monk of the order of Fontevrault, founded in 1100, a “double” monastery, populated by both monks and nuns, who resided in separate convents but were directed by the same abbess.
The Dialogue de consolation, one of several devotional works by François Le Roy, belongs to a particular Renaissance genre of religious works for laypeople couched in the form of dialogues, modeled on ancient traditions, commencing with the Book of Job and including Plato, Augustine’s Soliloquies, and Boethius Consolation of Philosophy. These dialogues inspired sixteenth-century writers like Thomas More (Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, ca. 1534) and Marguerite de Navarre (Dialogue en forme de vision nocturne, composed in 1524). Le Roy’s place in this august company is assured by this work, an interior, spiritual dialogue in which the Soul, plagued by temptations and spiritual tribulations, is counseled by Reason, who provides consolation in the form of methods of contemplation and devout meditation. Le Roy interweaves exempla from the Bible, the Church fathers and a few classical authors (Horace) with paraphrases of more recent theologians, particularly Gerson, and his own direct, clear prose.
The edition was shared between Janot, Pierre Sergent and Arnoul and Charles Langelier (or Les Angeliers). It is printed in the types of Étienne Cavelier, who used his signature metalcut four-part title border and characteristic typographic pointing fingers throughout the text. The metalcut showing the Trinity and All Saints is a very slightly reduced (124 x 80 mm.) copy, here somewhat worn, of a metalcut used by the printer Philippe Pigouchet in a number of late 15th- and early 16th-century Horae and other works, including the Livre de perfection of Robert Ciboule, printed by Pigouchet for S. Vostre circa 1510 (cf. our inventory no. 2918).
Two copies are held by US libraries, Newberry: this issue, and Houghton: Angelier issue. Bechtel L-217; Renouard / Moreau V, 563; Brunet 2:669 (Sergent issue); Higman L 56. Cf. Alexandre Tarrête, “Remarques sur le genre du dialogue de consolation à la Renaissance,” Réforme, Humanisme, Renaissance 2003 (57), pp. 133-152 (online, on Persée website). Item #2921