Online Encyclopedia

URFE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 795 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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URFE, HONOR$ D', MARQUIS DE VALBROMEY, COMTE DE CHATEAUNEUF (1568–1625), French novelist and miscellaneous writer, was born at Marseilles on the 11th of February 1568, and was educated at the College de Tsarnon. A partisan of the League, he was taken prisoner in 1595, and, though soon set at liberty, he was again captured and imprisoned. During his imprisonment he read Ronsard, Petrarch and above all the Diana enamorada of George de Montemayor and Tasso's Aminta. Here, too, he wrote the Epitres morales (1598). Honore's brother Anne, comte D'Urfe, had married in 1571 the beautiful Diane de Chateaumorand, but the marriage was annulled in 1598 by Clement VIII. Anne D'Urfe was ordained to the priesthood in 1603, and died in 1621 dean of Montbrison. Diane had a great fortune, and to avoid the alienation of the money from the D'Urfe family, Honore married her in 1600. This marriage also proved unhappy; D'Urfe spent most of his time separated from his wife at the court of Savoy, where he held the charge of chamberlain. The separation of goods arranged later on may have been simply due to money embarrassments. It was in Savoy that he conceived the plan of his novel Astree, the scene of which is laid on the banks of the Lignon in his native province of Forez. It is a leisurely romance in which the loves of Celadon and Astree are told at immense length with many digressions. The recently discovered circumstances of the marriages of the brothers have disposed of the idea that the romance is autobiographical in its main idea, but some of the episodes are said to he but slightly veiled accounts of the adventures of Henry IV. The shepherds and shepherdesses of the story are of the conventional type usual to the pastoral, and they discourse of love with a casuistry and elaborate delicacy that are by no means rustic. The two first parts of Astree appeared in 1610, the third in 1619, and in 1627 the fourth part was edited and a fifth added by D'Urfe's secretary Balthazar Baro. .Astree set the fashion temporarily in the drama as in romance, and no tragedy was complete without wire-drawn discussions on love in the manner of Celadon and Astree. D'Urfe also wrote two poems, La Sireine (1611) and Sylvanire (1625). He died from injuries received by a fall from his horse at Villafranca on the 1st of June 1625 during a campaign against the Spaniards. The best edition of Astree is that of 1647. In 1908 a bust of D'Urfe was erected at Virien (Ain), where the greater part of Astree was written.
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