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1528 __ « Les Quatre Livres du Courtisan »''' (The Book of the Courtier) (Il libro del cortegiano) » — Frozen words
Baltazar de Castillon (Baldassare Castiglione) (1478-1529)
French comment : La fable des paroles gelées n’est pas de l’invention de Rabelais, on la trouve dans le Courtisan de Baltazar de Castillon, dont la traduction françoise fut imprimée en 1537, et dans les Apologues de Cœlius Calcagninus de Ferrare, imprimées en 1544. Baltazar de Castillon, dans l’endroit du second livre de son Courtisan (Il libro del cortegiano), où il traite des mensonges plaisamment imaginés, en apporte pour exemple le conte d’un marchand luquois, parti de son pays pour aller acheter en Moscovie des peaux de martre zibelines. Étant arrivé au bord de la rivière du Borysthène, alors glacé, il crioit inutilement aux Moscovites qui étoient à l’autre bord, sans pouvoir ni les ouïr ni en être ouï. Des Polonois, qui avoient servi de guides à ce marchand, ayant fait réflexion qu’apparemment les paroles, de part et d’autre, à cause du grand froid, se geloient à moitié chemin, s’avisèrent d’un bon expédient. Ils firent, au milieu de la rivière, un grand feu, à la faveur duquel les paroles s’étant gelées, commencèrent à devenir intelligibles, en coulant d’un côté et d’autre, à peu près comme la neige coule au mois de mai, du haut des montagnes. Mais les Moscovites, las de prêter l’oreille sans rien entendre, s’étoient déjà retirés, et le Luquois, au son de leurs paroles dégelées, ayant reconnu qu’ils vouloient vendre leur marchandise trop cher, s’en revint sans faire emplette.
Original excerpt : « "Well, this merchant, so I was told, finding himself in Poland decided to buy a large number of sables, with the idea of importing them into Italy and securing a fat profit. After many negociations, since he could not enter Muscovy himself, in view of the war being waged between the King of Poland and the Duke of Muscovy, using the services of some inhabitants of the country he arranged that on the appointed day certain Muscovite merchants should come with their sables to the Polish border, where he promised he would be himself, ready for business.So the merchant made his way with his companions towards Muscovy, and when he came to the Dnieper he found it frozen over like marble and saw that the Muscovites were already on the other bank, but, being in turn fearful of the Poles because of the war, would approach no nearer that the width of the river. Both parties having recognized each other, after signs had been made the Muscovites began to shout the price they wanted for their sables. But it was so bitterly cold that they could not be heard; and the reason for this was that before they could reach the other bank where the merchant stood with his interpreters their words froze in the air and hung there frozen and suspended in such a way that the Poles, who knew the thing to do, chose as their course of action to build a great fire right in the middle of the river. This was because they judged that that was as far as the warmth of the voice carried the words before they had been intercepted by the ice; and the river was, moreover, so solid that it could easily bear the weight of the fire. After the fire had been prepared, the words, which had been frozen for the space of an hour, began to melt and to descend with a murmur like snow falling from the mountains in May, and so they were immedaitely heard very clearly, even though the Muscovites had already gone their way. All the same, since the merchant considered that the words be heard were asking too high a price for the sables he refused to close to deal, and so he returned home without them". » (Translated by George Bull)
Source : Rabelais, François (1552), In “Œuvres de Rabelais”, Édition variorum, avec des remarques de Le Duchat, de Bernier, de Le Motteux, de l’Abbé de Marsy, de Voltaire, de Ginguené, etc., Tome Septième, Dalibon Libraire, Paris, Palais Royal, Galerie de Nemours, Imprimerie Jules Didot aîné, imprimeur du roi, Rue du Pont-de-Lodi, n°6, MDCCCXXIII, 1823
Source : Castillon, Balthasar de (1528), "Le Courtisan", nouvellement traduict de langue ytalicque en vulgaire françoys par Jacques Collin d'Auxerre, Paris : J.Longis (1537).
Source : Castiglione, Baldassare (1528), "The Book of the Courtier", translated by George Bull, Penguin Classics (1976), pp. 164-165.

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