Malherbe, François de

Malherbe, François de

(fräNswä` də mälĕrb`), 1555–1628, French poet and critic, official poet of Henry IV and Louis XIII. His own poems approach technical perfection but lack verve and fire; the best-known is Consolation à Monsieur du Périer (c.1590). As a critic Malherbe had considerable influence on French literature. He consistently advocated objectivity, precision of language, and seriousness of purpose, ideals which were soon to be associated with classicism.

Malherbe, François de


Born circa 1555, in Caen; died Oct. 16, 1628, in Paris. French writer. Founder of French classicist poetry.

Malherbe came from the provincial nobility. In 1605 he settled in Paris. His poetry consists principally of solemn odes and stanzas dedicated to members of the royal family; he also wrote sonnets, epigrams, and elegies.

Malherbe’s importance lies chiefly in his reform of the language and poetry. Opposing Ronsard and the poets of La Pleiade, Malherbe demanded that French be purged of Greek and Latin borrowings, archaisms, and provincialisms; he proposed that French be based on the spoken norm of the broad strata of the Parisian population. In metrics he formed rules that became obligatory for classicist poetry. In many respects, Malherbe’s views anticipated those of the Académic Françhise.


Oeuvres poétiques, vols. 1-2. Paris, 1968.
In Russian translation:
[“Stikhi.”] In B. Puryshev, Khrestomatiia po zapadno-evropeiskoi literature: Literatura XVII v., 2nd ed. Moscow, 1949.


Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. Pages 353-58.
Vipper, Iu. B. Formirovanie klassitsizma vo frantsuzskoi poezii nachala XVII v. [Moscow] 1967. Pages 155-324.
Ponge, F. Pour un Malherbe. [Paris, 1965.]
Brunot, F. La Doctrine de Malherbe: D’aprés son commentaire sur Desportes. Paris, 1969. (Bibliography.)