1st Edition

Representing Judith in Early Modern French Literature

By Kathleen M. Llewellyn Copyright 2014
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    Although attention to the Book of Judith and its heroine has grown in recent years, this is the first full-length study to focus on adaptations of the Bible’s Old Testament Book of Judith across a range of literary genres written in French during the early modern era. Author Kathleen Llewellyn bases her analysis on references to Judith in a number of early modern sermons as well as the ’Judith’ texts of four early modern writers. The texts include two theatrical dramas, Le Mystère de Judith et Holofernés (c. 1500), believed to have been written by Jean Molinet, and Le Miroir des vefves: Tragédie sacrée d'Holoferne & Judith by Pierre Heyns (1596), as well as two epic poems, La Judit (1574) by Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, and Gabrielle de Coignard’s Imitation de la victoire de Judich (1594). Llewellyn’s goal is to see Judith as she was envisioned by early modern French writers and their readers, and to understand how the sixteenth century shaped their view of the heroine. Noting aspects of that story that were emphasized by sixteenth-century authors, as well as elements that those writers altered to suit their purposes, she also examines the ways in which writers of this era made use of Judith’s story as a means to explore interests and concerns of early modern writers, readers, and spectators. Representing Judith in Early Modern French Literature provides a deeper understanding of early modern ideas regarding the role of women, the use of exemplary stories in preaching and teaching, theories of vision, and the importance of community in Renaissance France.


    1 Introduction: Imagining Judith

    2 Acting for God: Le Mystere de Judith et Holofornés

    3 Regarding Judith: Vision and the Narrative Frame in Du Barta's La Judit

    4 Chantant avec Judith: Establishing Community in Gabrielle de Coignard's Imitation de la victoire de Judich

    5 Reflecting Virtue and Vice: Pierre Heyns's Le Miroir des vefves: Tragédie scrée d' Holoferne & Judith

    6 Preaching the Book of Judith



    Kathleen M. Llewellyn is Associate Professor of French and International Studies at Saint Louis University, USA.

    ’... Brings to life an untold fascinating chapter of the story of Judith. This book’s two-fold purpose is to explore how Judith was envisioned by French sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century male and female writers, readers, and spectators, and how she became a conduit for the expression of their political and religious concerns. The first takes us through a broad range of texts; the second, in contextualizing the heated debates reflected in these texts, allows us to appreciate what made Judith such a riveting figure.’ Anne Larsen, Hope College, USA '... Representing Judith paints a fascinating picture of the ways in which this evocative figure became a popular exemplar and a source of literary inspiration in the sixteenth century. ... The author demonstrates how this femme forte made her way into the hearts and minds of authors of early modern France, and, in so doing, Llewellyn has opened the door for other scholars to follow in her footsteps.' H-France 'The distinct angles of analysis in each study broaden the book's scope ... this book makes a valuable contribution to the study both of Judith and the more salient features of her character - her femininity, with its disturbing beauty and autonomy; her Judaism and its implications for exemplarity in a Christian era - and of these works, which exemplify the popularity of her story in early modern France.' French Studies