Delphine Perret, Dominique Missika, Jean-Yves Moyart, Abel Quentin… The brief reviews of the “World of books”

Story. “The Franciscan Manuscript rediscovered”, edited by Nicole Bériou, Jacques Dalarun and Dominique Poirel

The Franciscan Manuscript found delivers the result of a vast collective survey carried out, a rare thing, by researchers from both the hard sciences and the human sciences. The object of their investigations? A manuscript of the 13the century the size of a smartphone. This “pocket book” had already made a lot of noise when it was rediscovered in 2014, because it contains an unknown biography of Francis of Assisi (1180-1225), written shortly after his death. Dissected, the object-book sheds light here on less illustrious lives, those of his very first disciples.

Its collective writing and use, the absence of ornamentation, the simplicity of the materials that constitute it are a vibrant incarnation of their radical vow of poverty. Its composition on the roads of Italy, perhaps France, recalls that before the construction of the first convents, the Franciscans wandered from monastery to monastery. It is often in the library of the latter that they copy texts intended to help them in their main activity: preaching. This nomadic troop, exclusively male, in those heroic times cared little about preaching to women. Those “Adventurers of the Gospel” gleaned texts that mentioned the Virgin, but never concerned real women. On the other hand, they were primarily interested in the modernity of their doctrinal and spiritual references: this is how they copied what was then the very first life of Saint Francis and, for us, the last rediscovered. Mr. Dx

“Le Manuscrit franciscain rediscovered”, edited by Nicole Bériou, Jacques Dalarun and Dominique Poirel, CNRS Editions, 300 p., € 39, digital € 28.

Novel. “The Oracles of Teresa”, by Arianna Cecconi

Italy, Po valley. Three generations of women are gathered around “Mama Teresa” in what promises to be a wake where secrets will surface. Teresa has stopped speaking for almost ten years and, bedridden in the middle of the living room, she seems to be dozing. Until the day when the last farewell approaches and when cousins, daughters and granddaughters feel ready to receive the answers they have always feared to hear. Teresa is done then “Interpreter of the invisible”. Like an oracle who “Does not explain, but suggests”, and knows that “The prophecy is already in the ear of him who [le] consult ”. In a narration reminiscent of the Italian family sagas, the power of the myth thus insinuates itself. It gives this first novel a mystical and symbolic significance. Drawing on her experience on rituals and dreams, its author, anthropologist Arianna Cecconi, invites us to reflect on accumulated silences. Those “Memories buried behind closed doors, in corridors unknown to our memory”. F. C.-S.

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