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La Taille, Jean De

LA TAILLE, JEAN DE (c. 1540-1608), French poet and dramatist, was born at Bondaroy. He studied the humanities in Paris under Muret, and law at Orleans under Anne de Bourg. He began his career as a Huguenot, but afterwards adopted a mild Catholicism. He was wounded at the battle of Arnay-le Due in 1370, and retired to his estate at Bondaroy, where he wrote a political pamphlet entitled Histoire abregee des singeries de la ligue, often published with the Satire Menippee. His chief poem is a satire on the follies of court life, Le Courtisan retire; he also wrote a political poem, Le Prince necessaire. But his fame rests on his achievements in drama. In 1572 appeared the tragedy of Saulle furieux, with a preface on L'Art de la tragedie. Like Jodelle, Grevin, La Peruse and their followers, he wrote, not for the general public to which the mysteries and farces had addressed themselves, but for the limited audience of a lettered aristocracy. He therefore depreciated the native drama and insisted on the Senecan model. In his preface La Taille enunciates the unities of place, time and action; he maintains that each act should have a unity of its own and that the scenes composing it should be continuous; he objects to deaths on the stage on the ground that the representation is unconvincing, and he requires as subject of the tragedy an incident really terrible, developed, if possible, by elaborate intrigue. He criticizes e.g. the subject of the sacrifice of Abraham, chosen by Theodore de Beze for his tragedy (1351), as unsuitable because " pity and terror " are evoked from the spectators without real cause. If in Saill le furieux he did not completely carry out his own convictions he developed his principal character with great ability. A second tragedy, La Famine ou les Gabeonites (1573). is inferior in construction, but is redeemed by the character of Rizpah. He was also the author of two comedies, Le Negromant and Les Corrivaux, both written apparently by 1562 but not published until 1573. Les Corrivaux is remarkable for its colloquial prose dialogue, which foreshadows the excellence of later French comedy.

His brother, JACQUES DE LA TAILLE (1542-1562), composed a number of tragedies, of which La Mart de Daire and La Mart d'Alexandre (both published in 1573) are the chief. He is best known by his Maniere defaire des vers enfranQais comme en grec et en latin, an attempt to regulate French verse by quantity. He died of plague at the age of 20. His Poesies diverse* were published in 1572.

The works of Jean de la Taille were edited by Ren6 de Maulde (4 vols., 1878-1882). See also E. Faguet, La Tragedie francaise an XVI.'siecle (1883).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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