Francois Villon

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Villon, Francois


(real surname, Montcorbier or de Loges). Born between Apr. 1, 1431, and Apr. 19, 1432, in Paris; year and place of death unknown. French poet.

Villon was brought up by his foster father, the chaplain Guillaume de Villon, whose name he bore. He studied in the arts faculty at the Sorbonne, where he received a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree (1452). In 1455, Villon killed a priest in a brawl and fled from Paris. After being pardoned he returned and joined gangs of thieves; he was in jail several times. In 1463 he was condemned for brawling and sentenced him to be hanged. While awaiting death Villon wrote his Ballade of the Hanged. However, his execution was commuted to exile from Paris. Villon took part in the competitions for poets which were held at the court of Duke Charles d’Orleans, but his fate is unknown after 1464.

In 1456, Villon wrote his long poem Lais in 320 verses, well-known under the title of Minor Testament. This mock confession of an itinerant student, parodying a legal document, is a work of great realistic force, full of penetrating lyricism, irony, and earthy humor. Villon’s Grand Testament with its inserted ballades (such as “Of Ladies of Bygone Days,” “Women of Paris,” and “Fat Margot”) contains 2,023 verses. Especially noteworthy are the realistic little scenes from the life of the Parisian lower classes; vividly sketched are the riotous tramps, thieves, prostitutes, tavern keepers, and inveterately drunken clergymen. Villon’s poems contain his meditations on his lost youth, his unrequited love, his bitter poverty—the “mother of all crimes”—his presentiment of inevitable death, and repentant prayers; all this is shot through with irony, at times benign, at times sarcastic. Nor were patriotic moods alien to him (for example, “Ballade Against the Enemies of France”).

Villon’s verse was supple and musical. The poet had a command of both rhythm and rhyme; his ballades were complex in form and contained refrains. Villon’s language combined the dialect of the urban petite bourgeoisie with the jargon of thieves, the learned rhetoric of the Sorbonne, and archaisms used in the descriptions of the former days of chivalry. Villon’s successors (P. Gringore, M. Regnier, C. Marot, and F. Rabelais) were writers who were already free of medieval morality.

Villon was praised by the poets of classicism and the Enlightenment (J. La Fontaine, N. Boileau, Moliere, P. A. C. Beaumarchais), the romantics (V. Hugo, T. Gautier), and the symbolist P. Verlaine. Villon has been translated into Russian by V. la. Briusov, N. S. Gumilev, and I. G. Ehrenburg. The tragic, adventure-filled destiny of Villon has been the subject of poetic and romantic interpretations by such authors as R. L. Stevenson, F. Carco, K. Edschmid, and P. G. Antokol’skii.


Oeuvres complètes, 3rd ed. Published by A. Longnon. Paris, 1923.
Oeuvres. Published by A. Mary. Paris [1962].
Oeuvres poètiques. [Paris] 1965.
In Russian translation:
Stikhi. Translated by F. Mendel’son and I. Ehrenburg. [With a foreword by L. Pinskii. Moscow, 1963.]
[“Stikhi.”] In Ten’ derev’ev: Stikhi zarubezhnykh poetov v per. I. Erenburga. Moscow, 1969.


Veselovskii, lu. A. Literaturnye ocherki, vol. 1. Moscow, 1910.
Mandel’shtam, O. O poezii: Sb. statei. Leningrad, 1928. Pages 87-97.
Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. Pages 195-201.
Ehrenburg, I. Frantsuzskie tetradi. Moscow, 1959.
Cons, L. Etat prèsent des etudes sur Villon. Paris, 1936. (Contains a bibliography.)
Lewis, D. B. W. François Villon: A Documented Survey. London, 1945.
Chancy, E. F. Francois Villon in His Environment. Oxford, 1946.
Burger, A. Lexique de la langue de Villon. Geneva-Paris, 1957.
Seaton, E. Studies in Villon, Vaillant, and Charles d’Orléans. Oxford, 1957.
Charpier, J. Francois Villon. [Paris, 1958.]
Robert, A. F. Villon. New York [1968].


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Ele realizou a primeira edicao exclusivamente dedicada a sua obra, intitulada CEuvres de Francois Villon de Paris (1532).
La figura de Francois Villon, por otra parte, aparece timidamente reflejada en la figura de uno de los personajes secundarios de "Nicolas Loyseleur": un clerigo magro, maestro del joven teologo, a quien Schwob atribuye algunos de los datos biograficos de Villon.
In a matter of at least five weeks stitching it together mainly from his growing portfolio of violent poems, many of which were slightly modified versions of poems by Francois Villon, with help from Augsburg friends, he did create a dark, brilliant, misogynist, violent, homoerotic, extended poem of a play, very much in the style of Wedekind.
Francois Villon, whose personal mystery includes a sudden disappearance in 1462 after which he was never heard of again, makes a piquant subject for a biography and in this context.
I), George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, Francois Villon, Jean Anouilh, Verdi, Maxwell Anderson, Victor Fleming and actress Ingrid Bergman -- and like the 15th century peasants, soldiers and nobles who remade her image according to their own hopes, ambitions, voices and visions -- we are free to fill in what is lacking in the historical portrait and to find in her what we want.
His previous translations have been from the French, The Poems of Francois Villon and On the Motion and Immobility of Douve by Yves Bonnefoy.
That policy might exclude the works of the Marquis de Sade, Dylan Thomas, Samuel Coleridge, Francois Villon, or Richard Nixon.
She began to teach the writing of poetry in New York City and in 1932 edited Lyrics of Francois Villon.
This source will yield more when Pelleas appears in the Debussy complete edition, which will also have to draw upon other items in this extraordinarily rich corner of the collection; it includes annotated scores or proofs of the Trois ballades de Francois Villon, the Fantaisie for piano and orchestra, the Images, La Met, the Nocturnes, Jeux and the Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune.
Kinnell has been active as a translator, bringing to English readers Rene Hardy's novel Bitter Victory (1956), a new translation of the poetry of Francois Villon (1965), Yves Bonnefoy's On the Motion and Immobility of Douve (1968), and Yvan Goll's Lackawanna Elegy (1970).
Nostalgia works for some people: Francois Villon achieved immortality by lamenting the snows of yesteryear, Samuel Woodworth grew dewy-eyed over the old oaken bucket, and a whole generation sighed over yesterday's gardenias and last year's crop of kisses.
Francois Villon (15th century) probably wrote the best - known ballades in literary history.