Read and commented throughout Europe, Jacques Delille (1738-1813) was one of the most admired poets in his time. In 1770, his French translation of Virgil’s Georgics was praised by Voltaire and gave him instant fame. From Les Jardins (1782) to La Conversation (1812), his poems explored or celebrated the relation to nature, the aesthetic renewal, and the sensitivities and social practices of the time. With L’Imagination and Les Trois Règnes de la nature, he was deemed the champion of a scientific poetry that developed between the Enlightenment and Romanticism. After his death, he was nevertheless associated with a sclerotic Classicism: He became an antimodel and he was mocked, often caricatured, and then forgotten. Despite this he left a deep trace in the later literature, since his work was evoked by Balzac, Stendhal, Flaubert, Hugo, and Ponge.The project “Reconstruire Delille” is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and brings together a team of specialists with three goals: to make Delille accessible by publishing the first critical edition of his work; to renew the approach of his aesthetics; and to rebuild the cultural dynamics that characterized the reception of his poetry from its beginnings to the end of the 19th century. This latter study is nourished by a database that inventories the echoes of Delille in European culture, an edition of L’Homme des champs based on the reception of that text, and an international conference on the impact of the poet outside France.
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