DU BELLAY, Joachim

(1522-1560)
Joachim Du Bellay's Defense et illustration de la langue françoyse (A de­fense and illustration of the French language, 1549) proclaimed the doctrine of the French Pleiade poets, including Du Bellay, Pierre de Ronsard,* and Jean-Antoine de Baif.* Du Bellay's early poetry reflects the literary models of Greece, Rome, and Italy. Du Bellay's later works, however, reject these models in favor of more personal experiences and themes, signaling a shift in attitude and taste in the latter half of the sixteenth century in France. In this respect, Du Bellay is also a precursor of later lyric poetry that focuses on the self and the expression of the poet's state of mind.
Not long after his birth in 1522 at the Chateau de la Turmeliere in Anjou, France, Du Bellay's parents both died, leaving his older brother in charge. Du Bellay spent his childhood in the country, where his education was neglected. As a young man, he probably began his studies at the University of Poitiers. By 1547 he was a student at the College de Coqueret in Paris, where he learned Latin and Greek and read the great literature and philosophy of antiquity and of modern Italy under the tutelage of the humanist Jean Dorat. Soon thereafter, Du Bellay and six other poets, including Ronsard and Baif, formed the school of French poets known as the Pleiade.
Du Bellay's Defense et illustration de la langue françoyse served as the group's manifesto, asserting the dignity of the French language, in keeping with Renaissance humanists' growing support for the vernacular, and calling on poets to enrich the French language so that it, along with French literature, might rival that of the ancients. According to Du Bellay and his compatriots, the poet was not only an inspired artist, but also a skilled artisan who must find nourishment and inspiration in classical and Italian models, then transform them into some­thing new, capable of enhancing the glory of the French language. The Pleiade upheld a lofty ideal of poetry's sake and of the poet as one who expresses universal truths. Du Bellay's first collection of sonnets, L'Olive, published in an edition of 50 sonnets in 1542, then in an expanded edition of 155 sonnets in 1550, reflects the ideals put forth in the Defense and incorporates many classical and Petrarchan themes and stylistic elements.
In 1553 Du Bellay traveled to Rome as secretary to his relative, the cardinal Jean Du Bellay, Henri II's envoy to the pope. Once he was in Italy, the poet's humanist enthusiasm soon faded to nostalgia for his homeland, disillusionment with the pretensions of the papal entourage, and painful reflection on the fallen grandeur of Rome and the vanity of all earthly glory. These and other personal emotions inspire the poetry he wrote while he was in Italy and published fol­lowing his return to France in 1557. Upon his return home, Du Bellay was beset by family legal matters, and his deafness worsened. He died in 1560 at the age of thirty-seven.
The Antiquiteés de Rome (The Antiquities of Rome, 1558) conveys Du Bel-lay's reactions to the decadence of Rome, his somber reflections on grandeur and decadence and on the inexorable passage of time. Inspired in part by clas­sical models dealing with similar themes, Du Bellay's sonnets nonetheless con­vey a very personal sense of disappointment, grounded in his nostalgia for France. In addition to treating the same themes of disillusionment with Rome and absence from the homeland, the Regrets (1558) also includes messages to friends, sonnets on poetic inspiration, and poetic reflections on the journey home. In the Regrets, Du Bellay seeks inspiration in daily experience and in the emotions of one who suffers far from home. The Jeux rustiques (1558) also rejects the grand ambition of the Defense, replacing the poet's belief in and quest for eternal glory with the search for individual happiness founded on simplicity.
Bibliography
J. Du Bellay, Les regrets, preceédeé de Les antiquiteés de Rome et suivi de La déffense et illustration de la langue francoyse, ed. S. de Sacy, 1967. L.C. Keating, Joachim du Bellay, 1971.
V. L. Saulnier, Du Bellay, l'homme et l'oeuvre, 1951.
Karen S. James

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bellay, Joachim du — (1522 1560)    poet, scholar    An influential figure of the French Renaissance, Joachim du Bellay was born in Liré. Abandoning a military career and under the influence of Peletier du Mans, he took up poetry. Inspired by the humanistic spirit of …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Bellay,Joachim du — Bel·lay (bə lāʹ, bĕ lāʹ), Joachim du. 1522? 1560. French poet. A founder of a group of poets known as the Pléiade, he wrote sonnets, satires on literary conventions, and a manifesto of the group s poetic principles. * * * …   Universalium

  • Bellay, Joachim du — ► (1525 60) Poeta francés, llamado el Ovidio francés. Autor de sonetos clásicos, como Los lamentos …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • BELLAY, JOACHIM DU —    French poet; author of sonnets entitled Regrets, full of vigour and poetry; wrote the Antiquités de Rome ; was called the Apollo of the Pléiade, the best poet and the best prose writer among them (1524 1560) …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • du Bellay,Joachim — du Bel·lay (do͞o bə lāʹ, dü bĕ lāʹ), Joachim. See Bellay, Joachim du. * * * …   Universalium

  • du Bellay, Joachim — ▪ French poet born c. 1522, Liré, Fr. died Jan. 1, 1560, Paris  French poet, leader with Pierre de Ronsard (Ronsard, Pierre de) of the literary group known as La Pléiade (Pléiade, La). Du Bellay is the author of the Pléiade s manifesto, La… …   Universalium

  • Du Bellay, Joachim — (ca. 1522 1560)    French poet, second only to Pierre de Ronsard among the group of court poets known as La Pléiade. Like others of this school, he strove to capture and express the spirit of the great poets of classical antiquity in his native… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Joachim Du Bellay — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Du Bellay (Famille). Joachim du Bellay …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Joachim du Bellay — (* um 1522 in Liré nahe Angers; † 1. Januar 1560 in Paris) war ein französischer Autor. Er gilt neben Pierre de Ronsard als der bedeutendste französische Lyriker der Mitte des 16. Jahrhunderts …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Joachim du Bellay — Born c. 1522 Liré, Anjou, France Died 1 January 1560(1560 01 01) Paris …   Wikipedia


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