JODELLE, Etienne


JODELLE, Etienne
(c. 1532-1573)
Etienne Jodelle was a member of the Pleiade in addition to Jean-Antoine de Baif,* Joachim Du Bellay,* Remy Belleau,* Jacques Peletier Du Mans, Pierre de Ronsard,* and Pontus de Tyard. His most famous literary achievement re­mains the creation of the first modern French tragedy, Cleopatre captive (Cle­opatra in captivity), which was performed before the court of Henri II in 1552.
Born in Paris in 1532 of humble origins, Jodelle, like Belleau, attended the College de Boncourt in Paris, where he studied with Marc-Antoine Muret,* Ronsard's commentator, and George Buchanan,* whose Latin tragedies were often imitated. Jodelle began writing poetry in 1549, but it is the publication and warm reception of the representation of the first modern French tragedy, Cleopatre captive, in 1552 for which he is best known. Jodelle's application of the principles set forth by the Pleiade distinguished his play from medieval pas­sion and mystery plays and foreshadowed the works of Pierre Corneille and Jean Racine. His dramatic production was completed by the composition of a comedy, Eugene (1552), and a second tragedy, Didon se sacrifiant (1555). The city council of Paris invited Jodelle to organize a large party in honor of King Henri II and the duke of Guise's recapture of Calais from the English in 1558. Jodelle's hastily organized party had a classical theme, the story of Jason and the Argonauts, and elaborate decorations of inscriptions, mottos, and prov­erbs in addition to musical and poetical performances. Unfortunately, this event was a miserable failure, casting Jodelle into disfavor among possible patrons of his works. It did, however, result in the publication of Recueil des inscriptions (1558), which Jodelle prefaced by a rather long explanation of the reasons for the lack of success of the celebration and his original intentions for the event. He never again enjoyed a success equal to that of his early years, and although he did receive money from Charles IX for a poem about the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, he lived out his life in relative poverty, dying in Paris in 1573. His remaining dramatic and poetic works were collected and published by his friend Charles de La Mothe as Oeuvres et mélanges poétiques d'Etienne Jodelle (1574) and include his love sonnets, Les amours et Les contr'amours.
Bibliography
F. Charpentier, "Invention d'une dramaturgie: Jodelle, La Peruse," Litteratures 22 (Spring 1990): 7—22.
Nancy Erickson Bouzrara

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

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  • Jodelle, Etienne — (1532 1573)    poet, dramatist    An important literary figure of the French Renaissance, Etienne Jodelle was born in Paris and, at age 20, was the author of the first classic French tragedy, Cléopatre captive (1553), which was performed before… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

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