Isaac de Benserade

1613 - 1691

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

country of citizenship:  Kingdom of France
native language:  French
languages spoken, written or signed:  French

Isaac de Benserade (French: [bɛ̃.sʁad]; baptized 5 November 1613 – 10 October 1691) was a French poet and playwright. Born in Lyons-la-Forêt, Normandy, his family appears to have been connected with Richelieu, who bestowed on him a pension of 600 livres. On Richelieu's death, Benserade lost his pension but became more and more a favourite at court, especially with Anne of Austria.He wrote his first tragedy at the age of 23 in 1636, Cleopatra, for the actress Mademoiselle Bellerose. His first comedy was Iphis and Iante, which first opened in the Hôtel de Bourgogne in 1634. This play touches on female homosexuality in the form of cross-dressing, which was a commonplace in French literature in the 17th century.Benserade provided the words for the court ballets and was in 1674 admitted to the French Academy, where he wielded considerable influence. In 1675, he provided the quatrains to accompany the 39 hydraulic sculpture groups depicting Aesop's fables in the labyrinth of Versailles. In 1676, the failure of his Métamorphoses d'Ovide in the form of rondeaux gave a blow to his reputation but by no means destroyed his vogue with his contemporaries. Benserade may be best known for his sonnet on Job (1651). The sonnet, which he sent to a young lady with his paraphrase on Job, was placed in competition with the Urania of Voiture and led to a dispute on their relative merits that long divided the whole court and the wits into two parties, styled respectively the Jobelins and the Uranists. The partisans of Benserade were headed by the prince de Conti and Mlle de Scudéry, and Mme de Montausier and Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac took the side of Voiture.Some years before his death, Benserade retired to Gentilly and devoted himself to a translation of the Psalms, which he nearly completed. Source: Wikipedia (en)

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