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Isaac de Benserade

Isaac de Benserade (baptized November 5, 1613 - October 10, 1691) was a French poet.

Born in Paris, his family appears to have been connected with Richelieu, who bestowed on him a pension of 600 livres. He began his literary career with the tragedy of Cléopáre (1635), which was followed by four other indifferent pieces. On Richelieu's death Benserade lost his pension, but became more and more a favourite at court, especially with Anne of Austria.

He provided the words for the court ballets, and was, in 1674, admitted to the Academy, where he wielded an influence quite out of proportion to the merit of his work. In 1676 the failure of his Métamorphoses divide in the form of rondeaux gave a blow to his reputation, but by no means destroyed his vogue with his contemporaries. Benserade would probably be forgotten but for his sonnet on Job (1651). This sonnet, which he sent to a young lady with his paraphrase on Job, having been placed in competition with the Urania of Voiture, a dispute on their relative merits long divided the whole court and the wits into two parties, styled respectively the Jobelins and the Uranists. The partisans of Benserade were headed by the prince de Conti and Mlle de Scudéry, while Mme de Montausier and JG de Balzac took the side of Voiture.

Some years before his death, Benserade retired to Chantilly, and devoted himself to a translation of the Psalms, which he nearly completed.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.