Imitation, language and nation in Joachim Du Bellay's Deffence

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Du Bellay's Deffence et illustration de la langue francoyse (1549) not only testifies to the poet's patriotism, but also entails an intricate reflection on language and nation which complicates and raises difficult questions about their relationship. This article demonstrates how Du Bellay conceptualizes language and nation as imaginary entities shifting between culture and nature by creating a deep and broad analogy between the two. The ultimately indeterminate origin of language poses the serious quandary of the nation's lack of origin and originality. Du Bellay resolves this and other issues in part by deploying the fruit and the graft as tropes of both culture and nature. Through these metaphors he indirectly proposes the literary practice of imitation as a general cultural procedure to transform what is foreign into the national, even though the nature of imitation remains as obscure as the origin of language and nation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-40
JournalFrench Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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