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Théophile de Viau

born: 1590
died: 1626
country: France

Théophile de Viau was born a Protestant and converted to Catholicism, but this was not the only schism in his life. A brave soldier renowned for his dashing personality and freedom of thought he incurred the enmity of the Jesuits. Théophile (for thus is he also known in literary history, without his second name) was a bisexual and was denounced and imprisoned on morals charges and for writing licentious poetry. At that time there was a death penalty for homosexual practices. He died at the age of thirty-six, broken by the uncertainty about his future as his trial dragged on, and by years of imprisonment at the Châtelet. One can be certain that Reynaldo knew all about this fellow-sufferer when he came to choose this text. Théophile is best remembered today as the author of an exceptional work for the theatre, Pyrame et Thisbé, familiar as a subject to English readers as the humorous play within a play in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996


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