Cover: The Return of Martin Guerre, from Harvard University PressCover: The Return of Martin Guerre in PAPERBACK

The Return of Martin Guerre

Add to Cart

Product Details

PAPERBACK

$27.50 • £22.95 • €25.00

ISBN 9780674766914

Publication Date: 10/15/1984

Academic Trade

176 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

9 halftones, 1 map

World

The clever peasant Arnaud du Tilh had almost persuaded the learned judges at the Parlement of Toulouse when, on a summer’s day in 1560, a man swaggered into the court on a wooden leg, denounced Arnaud, and reestablished his claim to the identity, property, and wife of Martin Guerre. The astonishing case captured the imagination of the continent. Told and retold over the centuries, the story of Martin Guerre became a legend, still remembered in the Pyrenean village where the impostor was executed more than 400 years ago.

Now a noted historian, who served as consultant for a new French film on Martin Guerre, has searched archives and lawbooks to add new dimensions to a tale already abundant in mysteries: we are led to ponder how a common man could become an impostor in the sixteenth century, why Bertrande de Rols, an honorable peasant woman, would accept such a man as her husband, and why lawyers, poets, and men of letters like Montaigne became so fascinated with the episode.

Natalie Zemon Davis reconstructs the lives of ordinary people, in a sparkling way that reveals the hidden attachments and sensibilities of nonliterate sixteenth-century villagers. Here we see men and women trying to fashion their identities within a world of traditional ideas about property and family and of changing ideas about religion. We learn what happens when common people get involved in the workings of the criminal courts in the ancien régime, and how judges struggle to decide who a man was in the days before fingerprints and photographs. We sense the secret affinity between the eloquent men of law and the honey-tongued village impostor, a rare identification across class lines.

Deftly written to please both the general public and specialists, The Return of Martin Guerre will interest those who want to know more about ordinary families and especially women of the past, and about the creation of literary legends. It is also a remarkable psychological narrative about where self-fashioning stops and lying begins.

Recent News

From Our Blog

Cover: A Shoppers’ Paradise: How the Ladies of Chicago Claimed Power and Pleasure in the New Downtown, by Emily Remus, from Harvard University Press

Going Downtown

As a child in Chicago, Emily Remus was enchanted by the sights and sounds of its downtown. Here she tells how those early experiences influenced her in writing A Shoppers’ Paradise, a book about how women in turn-of-the-century Chicago used their consumer power to challenge male domination of public spaces and stake their own claim to downtown

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library (loebclassics.com) extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.