Du Bartas, Guillaume de Salluste°

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DU BARTAS, GUILLAUME DE SALLUSTE ° (1544–1590), French poet and diplomat. Du Bartas served Henry of Navarre as ambassador to England and Scotland. A Gascon Protestant, he opposed the paganism of the Pléiade group of poets and wrote baroque verse imbued with the spirit of the Bible. Judith (1573) commemorates the apocryphal Jewish heroine. The epic La Semaine (1578), which retells the Creation story of Genesis, and its sequel, La Seconde Semaine (begun in 1584, but never completed), set out to unfold the history of mankind to the beginning of the Christian era. The Semaines are outstanding for their lofty tone and moral purpose, though the style and imagery are often grotesque. Their encyclopedic conception betrays the influence of Du Bartas' erudite contemporary, Guy *Le Fèvre de la Boderie. Du Bartas' Hebrew scholarship may have been modest but his respect for and interest in Hebrew studies and the *Kabbalah (typical of the French humanists) may be deduced from the lengthy "Hommage au langage hebrieu" in the Seconde Semaine. Du Bartas made a powerful impression in the 16th and 17th centuries and probably influenced Hugo, as well as Milton and Goethe, in translation.


U.T. Holmes (ed.), Works of Guillaume De Salluste Sieur Du Bartas (1935–40); A.M. Schmidt, Poésie scientifique en France au 16è siècle (1938), 247–69; F. Secret, in: Studi francesi, 7 (1959), 1–11.

[Godfrey Edmond Silverman]