Two Texts, Two Directions
L’utile et plaisant passe-temps pour tous fidelles chrestiens, voulant cognoistre que c’est que de verité en toute choses.
Rouen: Guillaume Iores, 1615. (BRB0819)
In this unusual French devotional work for Catholic children, printed in oblong miniature format, the first part of the text was printed exclusively on the recto of each leaf, while the second part was printed upside-down on the versos, reading in the opposite direction. The entire work consists of 380 questions and answers concerning Christian spirituality, devotional practices, religious symbolism, and moral lessons. Most of the answers are accompanied by a citation of biblical, patristic, or contemporary theological authorities and a brief passage intended as a stimulus to further meditation. The exhibited lesson on page 74 teaches that one may release deceased family members from Purgatory by attending Mass, praying to saintly intercessors, giving alms, and fasting. Some lessons are severely moralizing, for example, Question: “What does a girl who paints her face with makeup do?” Answer: “She insults her Creator.”