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Record 21874

Reading Experience:

'I read […] Olivier Basselin […] "On dit qu’il nuit aux yeux; mais seront-ils les maistres? Le vin est guarison De mes maux; J’aime mieux perdre les deux fenestres Que toute la maison" (That’s O. Basselin; [italics]c’est assez choite, n’est-ce pas?[end italics].'
Century: 1850-1899
Date: Until: Nov 1875
Country: Scotland
Time: n/a
Place: city: Edinburgh
county: Lothian
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:Robert Louis Stevenson
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 13 Nov 1850
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: Writer
Religion: Uncommitted
Country of origin: Scotland
Country of experience: Scotland
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: Olivier Basselin
Title: A Son Nez
Genre: Poetry
Form of Text: Print: Unknown
Publication details: Printed in France in early seventeenth century.
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 21874  
Source - Print  
  Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
  Editor: Bradford A. Booth
  Title: The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, April 1874-July 1879
  Place of Publication: New Haven and London
  Date of Publication: 1994
  Vol: 2
  Page: 166
  Additional comments: Letter 424, To Sidney Colvin, [November 1875], [17 Heriot Row]. Co-editor Ernest Mehew. The material in square brackets has been added by the editors.

Citation: Robert Louis Stevenson, Bradford A. Booth (ed.), The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, April 1874-July 1879 (New Haven and London, 1994), 2, p. 166,, accessed: 04 December 2023

Additional comments:

On p. 166, the Editors’ Note 4 to Letter 424 reads: “Fifteenth-century author of drinking-songs known as "Vaux-de-Vire". RLS’s quotation comes from "A Son Nez", edition not specified. Olivier Basselin (c.1400-c.1450) was a fuller (or miller) of Vire in Normandy, the reputed author of drinking-songs current in the Vau (valley) of the river Vire. He may have died in the wars against the English. According to Wikipedia, at the beginning of the 17th century a collection of songs was published by a Norman lawyer, Jean Le Houx, purporting to be the work of Olivier Basselin. There seems to be very little doubt that Le Houx was himself the author of the songs attributed to Basselin, as well as of those he acknowledged as his own. The form and the sense of the origin of RLS’s quotation (the last 4 lines of Basselin’s poem, of which the first 8 lines are more usually cited in anthologies) becomes clearer with a longer citation arranged correctly in the intended metre of alternating 12- and 6-syllable lines:: Combien de riches gens N'ont pas si riche nez! Pour te peindre en la sorte, Il faut beaucoup de temps. Le verre est le pinceau, duquel on t'enlumine; Le vin est la couleur Dont on t'a peint ainsi plus rouge qu'une guisgne En beuvant du meilleur. On dit qu'il nuit aux yeux; mais seront-ils les maistres Le vin est guarison De mes maux: j'aime mieux perdre les deux fenestres, Que toute la maison This strongly resembles: MIEUX VAUT LE VIN QUE LA VUE, 1546, by the more famous Clément MAROT: Le vin qui trop cher m'est vendu, M'a la force des yeux ravie, Pour autant qu'il m'est defendu, Dont tous les jours m'en croit l'envie. Mais puisque lui seul est ma vie, Malgré les fortunes senestres, Les yeux ne seront point les maistres Sur tout le corps, car, par raison, J'aime mieux perdre les fenestres Que perdre toute la maison. Does RLS mean “chouette”? which the Grand Robert gives, in popular use from 1830 as adjective and interjection, meaning: “nice”, “good”, “great”, “grand”.



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)