Georges de Brébeuf

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Georges de Brébeuf

Birthplace: Manche, Lower Normandy, France
Death: September 24, 1661 (43-44)
Bavent, Calvados, Lower Normandy, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert de Brébeuf and Marguerite Lecarpentier
Brother of Nicolas de Brébeuf; Jean de Brébeuf; Jean-Joachim de Brébeuf and Gilles de Brébeuf
Half brother of Geneviève de Brébeuf

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About Georges de Brébeuf

Georges de Brébeuf was born into an illustrious Norman family, most likely at Torigni-sur-Vire, Manche.One of his ancestors had followed William the Conqueror into England, and he was himself the nephew of the Jesuit missionary to Canada Jean de Brébeuf (who was later made a saint after his death at the hands of the Iroquois). He studied in Caen and Paris (where he met Blaise Pascal) and became preceptor to the future Marshall de Bellefonds (1641), then moved to Rouen, to hold a religious benefice. His early poetry participated in the so-called "précieuses" movement and is considered on a par with the works of Vincent Voiture and Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac. He became friends with Valentin Conrart, Gilles Ménage, Jean Chapelain, François-Eudes de Mézeray and Pierre Corneille; he wrote poetry on demand; and he gained a reputation for his playful, elegant and ironic poems (such as his Gageure or Epigrammes contre une femme fardée, 150 epigrams and madrigals against a woman wearing make-up) and his skill with vers libre (free verse). He also wrote works in a burlesque vein, much like Paul Scarron, in his baroque parodies of Virgil's Aeneid and Lucan's Pharsalia.

His reputation is most linked to his non-burlesque free translation of Lucan's Pharsalia. The author was severely ridiculized by Nicolas Boileau for his precious language in his Art poétique, but Boileau later changed his opinion of Brébeuf, saying "Malgré son fatras obscur, souvent Brébeuf étincelle" ("Despite his obscure gobblygook, Brébeuf often shines").

Near the end of his life, Brébeuf left mondain society and retreated to Venoix (near Caen), where his younger brother was curé. His later works are meditative, and seek peace in contemplation and nature. He died in 1661 in Venoix near Caen. His brother published a posthumous collection of his works, including his letters.


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Georges de Brébeuf's Timeline

Manche, Lower Normandy, France
September 24, 1661
Age 44
Bavent, Calvados, Lower Normandy, France