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  • Writer's pictureCláudio Giordano

A remarkable French twine

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

For reasons that do not need to decline, the morning had been gratifying and, in the afternoon, to distract myself, I looked at the shelves and by chance I picked up a forgotten brochure. I sat in the living room and leafed through it: it was the 1984 reprint of the 1890 facsimile reprint of:

Roti-Cochon ou Méthode très-facile pour bien apprendre les enfants a lire en latin & françois, par des inscriptions moralement expliquées de plusieurs representations figurées de différentes choses de leurs connoissances; très-utile, & même nécessaire, tant pour la vie & le salut, que pour la gloire de Dieu.
(Roast Pork or Very Easy Method to teach children to read Latin and French well, through several pictures of different things they know; very useful and even necessary both for life and health and for the glory of God).

I then read more carefully the Introduction by George Vicaire (1853-1921), bibliophile and bibliographer, author, among other works, of the well-known Bibliographie Gastronomique. Writes Vicario:

“Chance made us discover the curious little book that we have reprinted today in facsimile. It is found in the Arsenal, out of the Dijon presses at the end of the 17th century, and of such rarity that it has escaped until today [1890] from the investigations of bibliographers; We believe that we do not exceed the limits of the supposition, in affirming that it is the only surviving specimen.”

Roast pork to teach children to read Latin and French? asks Vicar. And there, in his own way and very appropriately, he shows that the anonymous author made use, avant la lettre, of the Paulo Freire method, that is, he used words and images of children's daily lives as a tool. “It is surprising, he says, that a Burgundian author sought to sensitize the imagination of his young compatriots through examples borrowed from the vocabulary of delicacies and appetizing illustrations, addressing small stomachs always ready to swallow craquelins (delicacies), oublies. sucrées (sugar cones), gauffres fretillantes (combs) and cornus bugnets. Roast Pork is a small treatise with a very primitive but certainly very original conception; and our author seems to have had such a precise knowledge of human nature that, in order to attract and hold the attention of young clients, he took advantage of a tendency inherent in childhood... interest bibliophiles and researchers, and if it has no literary value, it cannot be denied the merit of rarity and curiosity.”

It's a pity that in this short space I can't reproduce the entire exposition of the French scholar... After going through its 16 pages, I proceeded to a tasty reading of the crudely illustrated string, and there came the surprise that made me smile with satisfaction and that gave rise to this bibliographic report. Here is the content on page 9:

Uva semper fuit sacrata Deo.

The grape has always been consecrated to God.

White and black GRAPES are used to make good Wine, which is needed on the Altars; it gladdens the heart of Man, gives Milk to the Elders, Nectar at meals, and produces healthy blood when properly taken; but it spoils everything when drunk too much.

Half a dozen lines that sum up to perfection what wine is!

The grape is also mentioned on page 28; but in the 29th, a well-known verse extracted from the remarkable poem by Ovid Remedia Amoris (Remedies of Love) is quoted, in a somewhat mangled way: Memora perquoquit uvas - Time softens everything.

The entire and correct original verse is: Nam mora dat vires, teneras mora percoquit uvas, whose literal translation is: For time strengthens, time ripens the tender grapes. The broad scope of the phrase is also suggested by the “cordel” we are talking about: time solves everything. Underneath the illustration on page 29 is this comment: “He who keeps himself wisely busy does not waste his time. Children who fulfill their duties well, get on the wagon to go with their Father or Mother to harvest the harvest.”

The immense satisfaction of “discovering” the relevance of this simple booklet to be part of the BVReppucci collection sealed the day whose morning had been of good and gentle joy.

*This text was translated by Google Translate.

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