Joachim du Bellay Analysis

Other literary forms

Joachim du Bellay (dew beh-LAY) is known primarily for his poetry. However, he did write La Défense et illustration de la langue française (1549; The Defence and Illustration of the French Language, 1939). In this manifesto, he expressed the aims of the Pléiade, the poetry circle to which he belonged and which was dedicated to developing French as a recognized and acceptable language for poetry.


Joachim du Bellay was instrumental in establishing French poetry as a genre equal to the poetry of the ancients. As a member of the Pléiade, he made significant contributions in both theory and practice to embellishing and purifying the French language. The Defence and Illustration of the French Language synthesized the ideas, aims, and rules of writing verse developed by the Pléiade and made them available to the literary community of his time. Du Bellay himself was responsible for establishing the sonnet and the ode in French poetry. He also introduced the satirical poem as a formal poetical genre into French literature with Le Poète courtisan. His The Antiquities of Rome added yet another genre to French poetry, the poetry of ruins.


Coleman, Dorothy G. The Chaste Muse: A Study of Joachim du Bellay’s Poetry. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 1980. Examines the stylistic brilliance of du Bellay’s French and Latin poetry.

Katz, Richard A. The Ordered Text: The Sonnet Sequences of du Bellay. New York: P. Lang, 1985. The structural unity of Les Antiquités de Rome, L’Olive, and especially The Regrets is studied here.

Keating, L. Clark. Joachim du Bellay. New York: Twayne, 1971. An excellent general introduction to his poetry and theoretical writings, which also contains an annotated bibliography of important studies on du Bellay.

Shapiro, Norman R. Lyrics of the French Renaissance: Marot, Du Bellay, Ronsard. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2002. In French with parallel English translation.

Tucker, George H. The Poet’s Odyssey: Joachim du Bellay and the Antiquités de Rome. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. The originality of the mature poetry written during du Bellay’s exile in Rome is analyzed.