Joachim du Bellay
Joachim du Bellay was a French poet, a member of the Pléiade. Joachim du Bellay was born at the Castle of La Turmelière, not far from Liré, near Angers, being the son of Jean du Bellay, Lord of Gonnor, first cousin of the cardinal Jean du Bellay and of Guillaume du Bellay, his mother was Renée Chabot, daughter of Perceval Chabot and heiress of La Turmelière. Both his parents died while he was still a child, he was left to the guardianship of his elder brother, René du Bellay, who neglected his education, leaving him to run wild at La Turmelière; when he was twenty-three, however, he received permission to study law at the University of Poitiers, no doubt with a view to his obtaining preferment through his kinsman the Cardinal Jean du Bellay. At Poitiers he came in contact with the humanist Marc Antoine Muret, with Jean Salmon Macrin, a Latin poet famous in his day. There too he met Jacques Peletier du Mans, who had published a translation of the Ars Poetica of Horace, with a preface in which much of the program advocated by La Pléiade is to be found in outline.
It was in 1547 that du Bellay met Ronsard in an inn on the way to Poitiers, an event which may justly be regarded as the starting-point of the French school of Renaissance poetry. The two had much in common, became fast friends. Du Bellay returned with Ronsard to Paris to join the circle of students of the humanities attached to Jean Dorat at the Collège de Coqueret. While Ronsard and Jean-Antoine de Baïf were most influenced by Greek models, du Bellay was more a Latinist, his preference for a language so nearly connected with his own had some part in determining the more national and familiar note of his poetry. In 1548 appeared the Art poétique of Thomas Sébillet, who enunciated many of the ideas that Ronsard and his followers had at heart, though with essential differences in the point of view, since he held up as models Clément Marot and his disciples. Ronsard and his friends dissented violently from Sébillet on this and other points, they doubtless felt a natural resentment at finding their ideas forestalled and, inadequately presented.
The famous manifesto of the Pléiade, the Défense et illustration de la langue française, was at once a complement and a refutation of Sébillet's treatise. This book was the expression of the literary principles of the Pléiade as a whole, but although Ronsard was the chosen leader, its redaction was entrusted to du Bellay; this work bolstered French political debate as a means of learned men to reform their country. To obtain a clear view of the reforms aimed at by the Pléiade, the Defence should be further considered in connection with Ronsard's Abrégé d'art poétique and his preface to the Franciade. Du Bellay maintained that the French language as it was constituted was too poor to serve as a medium for the higher forms of poetry, but he contended that by proper cultivation it might be brought on a level with the classical tongues, he condemned those who despaired of their mother tongue, used Latin for their more serious and ambitious work. For translations from the ancients he would substitute imitations, though he does not in the Defense explain how one is to go about this.
Not only were the forms of classical poetry to be imitated, but a separate poetic language and style, distinct from those employed in prose, were to be used. The French language was to be enriched by a development of its internal resources and by discreet borrowing from Italian and Greek. Both du Bellay and Ronsard laid stress on the necessity of prudence in these borrowings, both repudiated the charge of wishing to Latinize their mother tongue; the book was a spirited defence of poetry and of the possibilities of the French language. The violent attacks made by du Bellay on Marot and his followers, on Sébillet, did not go unanswered. Sébillet replied in the preface to his translation of the Iphigenia of Euripides. Aneau pointed out the obvious inconsistency of inculcating imitation of the ancients and depreciating native poets in a work professing to be a defence of the French language. Du Bellay replied to his various assailants in a preface to the second edition of his sonnet sequence Olive, with which he published two polemical poems, the Musagnaeomachie, an ode addressed to Ronsard, Contre les envieux fioles.
Olive, a collection of sonnets modeled after the poetry of Petrarch and contemporary Italians published by Gabriele Giolito de' Ferrari, first appeared in 1549. With it were printed thirteen odes entitled Vers lyriques. Olive has been supposed to be an anagram for the name of a Mlle Viole, but there is little evidence of real passion in the poems, they may be regarded as a Petrarchan exercise as, in the second edition, the dedication to his lady is exchanged for one to Marguerite de Valois, daughter of Henry II. Du Bellay did not introduce the sonnet into French poetry, but he acclimatized it.
Victor Marie Hugo was a French poet and dramatist of the Romantic movement. Hugo is considered to be one of the best-known French writers. Outside France, his most famous works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, 1831. In France, Hugo is known for his poetry collections, such as Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles. Hugo was at the forefront of the Romantic literary movement with his play Cromwell and drama Hernani. Many of his works have inspired music, both during his lifetime and after his death, including the musicals Notre-Dame de Paris and Les Misérables, he produced more than 4,000 drawings in his lifetime, campaigned for social causes such as the abolition of capital punishment. Though a committed royalist when he was young, Hugo's views changed as the decades passed, he became a passionate supporter of republicanism, he is buried in the Panthéon in Paris. His legacy has been honoured in many ways, including his portrait being placed on French currency.
Victor Hugo was the third son of Joseph Léopold Sigisbert Sophie Trébuchet. He was born in 1802 in Besançon in the eastern region of Franche-Comté. On 19 November 1821, Léopold Hugo wrote to his son that he had been conceived on one of the highest peaks in the Vosges Mountains, on a journey from Lunéville to Besançon. " This elevated origin, he went on, seems to have had effects on you so that your muse is now continually sublime." Léopold Hugo was a freethinking republican. Hugo's childhood was a period of national political turmoil. Napoleon was proclaimed Emperor of the French two years after Hugo's birth, the Bourbon Monarchy was restored before his 13th birthday; the opposing political and religious views of Hugo's parents reflected the forces that would battle for supremacy in France throughout his life: Hugo's father was a high-ranking officer in Napoleon's army until he failed in Spain. Since Hugo's father was an officer, the family moved and Hugo learned much from these travels. On a childhood family trip to Naples, Hugo saw the vast Alpine passes and the snowy peaks, the magnificently blue Mediterranean, Rome during its festivities.
Though he was only five years old at the time, he remembered the six-month-long trip vividly. They stayed in Naples for a few months and headed back to Paris. At the beginning of her marriage, Hugo's mother Sophie followed her husband to posts in Italy and Spain. Weary of the constant moving required by military life and at odds with her husband's lack of Catholic beliefs, Sophie separated temporarily from Léopold in 1803 and settled in Paris with her children. Thereafter she dominated Hugo's upbringing; as a result, Hugo's early work in poetry and fiction reflect her passionate devotion to both King and Faith. It was only during the events leading up to France's 1848 Revolution, that he would begin to rebel against his Catholic Royalist education and instead champion Republicanism and Freethought. Young Victor fell in love with and became secretly engaged to his childhood friend Adèle Foucher, against his mother's wishes; because of his close relationship with his mother, Hugo waited until after her death to marry Adèle in 1822.
Adèle and Victor Hugo had their first child, Léopold, in 1823. On 28 August 1824, the couple's second child, Léopoldine was born, followed by Charles on 4 November 1826, François-Victor on 28 October 1828, Adèle on 28 July 1830. Hugo's eldest and favourite daughter, Léopoldine, died aged 19 in 1843, shortly after her marriage to Charles Vacquerie. On 4 September, she drowned in the Seine at Villequier, pulled down by her heavy skirts when a boat overturned, her young husband died trying to save her. The death left, he describes his shock and grief in his famous poem À Villequier: He wrote many poems afterwards about his daughter's life and death, at least one biographer claims he never recovered from it. His most famous poem is Demain, dès l'aube, in which he describes visiting her grave. Hugo decided to live in exile after Napoleon III's coup d'état at the end of 1851. After leaving France, Hugo lived in Brussels in 1851, before moving to the Channel Islands, first to Jersey and to the smaller island of Guernsey in 1855, where he stayed until Napoleon III's fall from power in 1870.
Although Napoleon III proclaimed a general amnesty in 1859, under which Hugo could have safely returned to France, the author stayed in exile, only returning when Napoleon III was forced from power as a result of the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. After the Siege of Paris from 1870 to 1871, Hugo lived again in Guernsey from 1872 to 1873, before returning to France for the remainder of his life. Hugo published his first novel the year following his marriage, his secon
Jean Racine, baptismal name Jean-Baptiste Racine, was a French dramatist, one of the three great playwrights of 17th-century France, an important literary figure in the Western tradition. Racine was a tragedian, producing such "examples of neoclassical perfection" as Phèdre and Athalie, although he did write one comedy, Les Plaideurs, a muted tragedy, for the young. Racine's plays displayed his mastery of the dodecasyllabic alexandrine; the linguistic effects of Racine's poetry are considered to be untranslatable, although many eminent poets have attempted to do so, including Lowell, Richard Wilbur, Ted Hughes, Tony Harrison, Derek Mahon into English, Friedrich Schiller into German. The latest translations of Racine's plays into English have been by Alan Hollinghurst, by RADA director Edward Kemp, Neil Bartlett and earned a 2011 American Book Award for the poet Geoffrey Argent. Racine's dramaturgy is marked by his psychological insight, the prevailing passion of his characters, the nakedness of both plot and stage.
Racine was born on 22 December 1639 in La Ferté-Milon, in the province of Picardy in northern France. Orphaned by the age of four, he came into the care of his grandparents. At the death of his grandfather in 1649, his grandmother, Marie des Moulins, went to live in the convent of Port-Royal and took her grandson with her, he received a classical education at the Petites écoles de Port-Royal, a religious institution which would influence other contemporary figures including Blaise Pascal. Port-Royal was run by followers of Jansenism, a theology condemned as heretical by the French bishops and the Pope. Racine's interactions with the Jansenists in his years at this academy would have great influence over him for the rest of his life. At Port-Royal, he excelled in his studies of the Classics and the themes of Greek and Roman mythology would play large roles in his future works, he was expected to study law at the Collège d'Harcourt in Paris, but instead found himself drawn to a more artistic lifestyle.
Experimenting with poetry drew high praise from France's greatest literary critic, Nicolas Boileau, with whom Racine would become great friends. Racine took up residence in Paris where he became involved in theatrical circles, his first play, never reached the stage. On 20 June 1664, Racine's tragedy La Thébaïde ou les frères ennemis was produced by Molière's troupe at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, in Paris; the following year, Molière put on Racine's second play, Alexandre le Grand. However, this play garnered such good feedback from the public that Racine secretly negotiated with a rival play company, the Hôtel de Bourgogne, to perform the play – since they had a better reputation for performing tragedies. Thus, Alexandre premiered for the second time, by a different acting troupe, eleven days after its first showing. Molière could never forgive Racine for this betrayal, Racine widened the rift between him and his former friend by seducing Molière's leading actress, Thérèse du Parc, into becoming his companion both professionally and personally.
From this point on the Hôtel de Bourgogne troupe performed all of Racine's secular plays. Though both La Thébaïde and its successor, had classical themes, Racine was entering into controversy and forced to field accusations that he was polluting the minds of his audiences, he broke all ties with Port-Royal, proceeded with Andromaque, which told the story of Andromache, widow of Hector, her fate following the Trojan War. Amongst his rivals were Pierre Corneille and his brother, Thomas Corneille. Tragedians competed with alternative versions of the same plot: for example, Michel le Clerc produced an Iphigénie in the same year as Racine, Jacques Pradon wrote a play about Phèdre; the success of Pradon's work was one of the events which caused Racine to renounce his work as a dramatist at that time though his career up to this point was so successful that he was the first French author to live entirely on the money he earned from his writings. Others, including the historian Warren Lewis, attribute his retirement from the theater to qualms of conscience.
However, one major incident which seems to have contributed to Racine's departure from public life was his implication in a court scandal of 1679. He got married at about this time to the pious Catherine de Romanet, his religious beliefs and devotion to the Jansenist sect were revived, he and his wife had two sons and five daughters. Around the time of his marriage and departure from the theater, Racine accepted a position as a royal historiographer in the court of King Louis XIV, alongside his friend Boileau, he kept this position in spite of the minor scandals he was involved in. In 1672, he was elected to the Académie française gaining much power over this organization. Two years he was bestowed the title of "treasurer of France", he was distinguished as an "ordinary gentleman of the king", as a secretary of the king; because of Racine's flourishing career in the court, Louis XIV provided for his widow and children after his death. When at last he returned to the theatre, it was at the request of Madame de Maintenon, morganatic second wife of King Louis
Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud was a French poet, known for his influence on modern literature and arts, which prefigured surrealism. Born in Charleville-Mézières, he started writing at a young age and excelled as a student, but abandoned his formal education in his teenage years to run away from home to Paris amidst the Franco-Prussian War. During his late adolescence and early adulthood he began the bulk of his literary output completely stopped writing at the age of 21, after assembling one of his major works, Illuminations. Rimbaud was known to have been a libertine and a restless soul, having engaged in an at times violent romantic relationship with fellow poet Paul Verlaine, which lasted nearly two years. After ending his literary career, he traveled extensively on three continents as a merchant before his death from cancer just after his thirty-seventh birthday; as a poet, Rimbaud is well known for his contributions to Symbolism and, among other works, for A Season in Hell, a precursor to modernist literature.
Arthur Rimbaud was born in the provincial town of Charleville in the Ardennes department in northeastern France. He was the second child of Marie Catherine Vitalie Cuif. Rimbaud's father, a Burgundian of Provençal extraction, was an infantry captain who had risen from the ranks, he participated in the conquest of Algeria from 1844 to 1850, in 1854 was awarded the Legion of Honor "by Imperial decree". Captain Rimbaud was described as "good-tempered, easy-going and generous". with the long moustaches and goatee of a Chasseur officer. In October 1852, Captain Rimbaud aged 38, was transferred to Mézières where he met Vitalie Cuif, 11 years his junior, while on a Sunday stroll, she came from a "solidly established Ardennais family", but one with its share of bohemians. Her personality was the "exact opposite" of Captain Rimbaud's; when Charles Houin, an early biographer, interviewed her, he found her "withdrawn and taciturn". Arthur Rimbaud's private name for her was "Mouth of Darkness". On 8 February 1853, Captain Rimbaud and Vitalie Cuif married.
The next year, on 20 October 1854, Jean Nicolas Arthur was born. Three more children followed: Victorine-Pauline-Vitalie on 4 June 1857, Jeanne-Rosalie-Vitalie on 15 June 1858 and Frédérique Marie Isabelle on 1 June 1860. Though the marriage lasted seven years, Captain Rimbaud lived continuously in the matrimonial home for less than three months, from February to May 1853; the rest of the time his military postings—including active service in the Crimean War and the Sardinian Campaign —meant he returned home to Charleville only when on leave. He their baptisms. Isabelle's birth in 1860 must have been the last straw, as after this Captain Rimbaud stopped returning home on leave entirely. Though they never divorced, the separation was complete. Neither the captain nor his children showed the slightest interest in re-establishing contact. Fearing her children were being over-influenced by the neighbouring children of the poor, Mme Rimbaud moved her family to the Cours d'Orléans in 1862; this was a better neighbourhood, the boys, now aged nine and eight, taught at home by their mother, were now sent to the Pension Rossat.
Throughout the five years that they attended the school, their formidable mother still imposed her will upon them, pushing them for scholastic success. She would punish her sons by making them learn a hundred lines of Latin verse by heart, further punish any mistakes by depriving them of meals; when Rimbaud was nine, he wrote a 700-word essay objecting to his having to learn Latin in school. Vigorously condemning a classical education as a mere gateway to a salaried position, Rimbaud wrote "I will be a rentier". Rimbaud resented his mother's constant supervision; as a boy, Rimbaud was small and pale with light brown hair, eyes that his lifelong best friend, Ernest Delahaye, described as "pale blue irradiated with dark blue—the loveliest eyes I've seen". An ardent Catholic like his mother, Rimbaud had his First Communion, his piety earned him the schoolyard nickname "sale petit Cagot". That same year, he and his brother were sent to the Collège de Charleville. Up to his reading had been confined to the Bible, though he had enjoyed fairy tales and adventure stories, such as the novels of James Fenimore Cooper and Gustave Aimard.
At the Collège he became a successful student, heading his class in all subjects except mathematics and the sciences. He won eight first prizes in the French academic competitions in 1869, including the prize for Religious Education, the following year won seven first prizes. Hoping for a brilliant academic career for her second son, Mme Rimbaud hired a private tutor for Rimbaud when he reached the third grade. Father Ariste Lhéritier succeeded in sparking in the young sch
Alexander the Great
Alexander III of Macedon known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon and a member of the Argead dynasty. He was born in Pella in 356 BC and succeeded his father Philip II to the throne at the age of 20, he spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, by the age of thirty he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of history's most successful military commanders. During his youth, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle until age 16. After Philip's assassination in 336 BC, he succeeded his father to the throne and inherited a strong kingdom and an experienced army. Alexander was awarded the generalship of Greece and used this authority to launch his father's pan-Hellenic project to lead the Greeks in the conquest of Persia. In 334 BC, he began a series of campaigns that lasted 10 years. Following the conquest of Anatolia, Alexander broke the power of Persia in a series of decisive battles, most notably the battles of Issus and Gaugamela.
He subsequently overthrew Persian King Darius III and conquered the Achaemenid Empire in its entirety. At that point, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River, he endeavored to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea" and invaded India in 326 BC, winning an important victory over the Pauravas at the Battle of the Hydaspes. He turned back at the demand of his homesick troops. Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, the city that he planned to establish as his capital, without executing a series of planned campaigns that would have begun with an invasion of Arabia. In the years following his death, a series of civil wars tore his empire apart, resulting in the establishment of several states ruled by the Diadochi, Alexander's surviving generals and heirs. Alexander's legacy includes the cultural diffusion and syncretism which his conquests engendered, such as Greco-Buddhism, he founded some twenty cities. Alexander's settlement of Greek colonists and the resulting spread of Greek culture in the east resulted in a new Hellenistic civilization, aspects of which were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century AD and the presence of Greek speakers in central and far eastern Anatolia until the 1920s.
Alexander became legendary as a classical hero in the mold of Achilles, he features prominently in the history and mythic traditions of both Greek and non-Greek cultures. He became the measure against which military leaders compared themselves, military academies throughout the world still teach his tactics, he is ranked among the most influential people in history. Alexander was born on the sixth day of the ancient Greek month of Hekatombaion, which corresponds to 20 July 356 BC, although the exact date is disputed, in Pella, the capital of the Kingdom of Macedon, he was the son of the king of Macedon, Philip II, his fourth wife, the daughter of Neoptolemus I, king of Epirus. Although Philip had seven or eight wives, Olympias was his principal wife for some time because she gave birth to Alexander. Several legends surround Alexander's childhood. According to the ancient Greek biographer Plutarch, on the eve of the consummation of her marriage to Philip, Olympias dreamed that her womb was struck by a thunder bolt that caused a flame to spread "far and wide" before dying away.
Sometime after the wedding, Philip is said to have seen himself, in a dream, securing his wife's womb with a seal engraved with a lion's image. Plutarch offered a variety of interpretations of these dreams: that Olympias was pregnant before her marriage, indicated by the sealing of her womb. Ancient commentators were divided about whether the ambitious Olympias promulgated the story of Alexander's divine parentage, variously claiming that she had told Alexander, or that she dismissed the suggestion as impious. On the day Alexander was born, Philip was preparing a siege on the city of Potidea on the peninsula of Chalcidice; that same day, Philip received news that his general Parmenion had defeated the combined Illyrian and Paeonian armies, that his horses had won at the Olympic Games. It was said that on this day, the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, burnt down; this led Hegesias of Magnesia to say that it had burnt down because Artemis was away, attending the birth of Alexander.
Such legends may have emerged when Alexander was king, at his own instigation, to show that he was superhuman and destined for greatness from conception. In his early years, Alexander was raised by a nurse, sister of Alexander's future general Cleitus the Black. In his childhood, Alexander was tutored by the strict Leonidas, a relative of his mother, by Lysimachus of Acarnania. Alexander was raised in the manner of noble Macedonian youths, learning to read, play the lyre, ride and hunt; when Alexander was ten years old, a trader from Thessaly brought Philip a horse, which he offered to sell for thirteen talents. The horse refused to be mounted, Philip ordered it away. Alexander however, detecting the horse's fear of its own shadow, asked to tame the horse, which he managed. Plutarch stated that Philip, overjoyed at this display of courage and ambition, kissed his son tearfully, declaring: "My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedon is too small for you", an
Jean de La Fontaine
Jean de La Fontaine was a French fabulist and one of the most read French poets of the 17th century. He is known above all for his Fables, which provided a model for subsequent fabulists across Europe and numerous alternative versions in France, in French regional languages. After a long period of royal suspicion, he was admitted to the French Academy and his reputation in France has never faded since. Evidence of this is found in the many pictures and statues of the writer, as well as depictions on medals and postage stamps. La Fontaine was born at Château-Thierry in France, his father was Charles de La Fontaine, maître des eaux et forêts – a kind of deputy-ranger – of the Duchy of Château-Thierry. Both sides of his family were of the highest provincial middle class. Jean, the eldest child, was educated at the collège of Château-Thierry, at the end of his school days he entered the Oratory in May 1641, the seminary of Saint-Magloire in October of the same year, he apparently studied law, is said to have been admitted as avocat/lawyer.
He was, settled in life, or at least might have been so, somewhat early. In 1647 his father resigned his rangership in his favor, arranged a marriage for him with Marie Héricart, a girl of fourteen, who brought him 20,000 livres, expectations, she seems to have been both beautiful and intelligent. There appears to be no ground for the vague scandal as to her conduct, which was, for the most part, raised long afterwards by gossip or personal enemies of La Fontaine. All that can be positively said against her is that she was a negligent housewife and an inveterate novel reader; this was a amicable transaction for the benefit of the family. One son was born to them in 1653, was educated and taken care of wholly by his mother. In the earlier years of his marriage, La Fontaine seems to have been much in Paris, but it was not until about 1656 that he became a regular visitor to the capital; the duties of his office, which were only occasional, were compatible with this non-residence. It was; the reading of Malherbe, it is said, first awoke poetical fancies in him, but for some time he attempted nothing but trifles in the fashion of the time – epigrams, rondeaux, etc.
His first serious work was a adaptation of the Eunuchus of Terence. At this time the patron of French writing was the Superintendent Fouquet, to whom La Fontaine was introduced by Jacques Jannart, a connection of his wife's. Few people who paid their court to Fouquet went away empty-handed, La Fontaine soon received a pension of 1000 livres, on the easy terms of a copy of verses for each quarters receipt, he began a medley of prose and poetry, entitled Le Songe de Vaux, on Fouquet's famous country house. It was about this time that his wife's property had to be separately secured to her, he seems by degrees to have had to sell everything that he owned. In the same year he wrote a ballad, Les Rieurs du Beau-Richard, this was followed by many small pieces of occasional poetry addressed to various personages from the king downwards. Fouquet was arrested. La Fontaine, like most of Fouquet's literary protégés, showed some fidelity to him by writing the elegy Pleurez, Nymphes de Vaux. Just at this time his affairs did not look promising.
His father and he had assumed the title of esquire, to which they were not entitled, some old edicts on the subject having been put in force, an informer procured a sentence against the poet fining him 2000 livres. He found, however, a new protector in the duke and still more in the Duchess of Bouillon, his feudal superiors at Château-Thierry, nothing more is heard of the fine; some of La Fontaine's liveliest verses are addressed to the duchess Marie Anne Mancini, the youngest of Mazarin's nieces, it is probable that the taste of the duke and duchess for Ariosto had something to do with the writing of his first work of real importance, the first book of the Contes, which appeared in 1664. He was forty-three years old, his previous printed productions had been comparatively trivial, though much of his work was handed about in manuscript long before it was published, it was about this time that the quartet of the Rue du Vieux Colombier, so famous in French literary history, was formed. It consisted of La Fontaine, Racine and Molière, the last of whom was of the same age as La Fontaine, the other two younger.
Chapelain was a kind of outsider in the coterie. There are many anecdotes, some pretty apocryphal, about these meetings; the most characteristic is that which asserts that a copy of Chapelain's unlucky Pucelle always lay on the table, a certain number of lines of, the appointed punishment for offences against the compan