|French literary history|
Jean-Pierre Camus (November 3, 1584 (Paris) - April 26, 1652) was a French bishop and writer of works of fiction and spirituality.
Jean-Pierre Camus was the son of Jean Camus, seigneur de Saint Bonnet, who was governor of Étampes. As a young man he traveled about Europe, and following his theological studies he became a priest in 1608; in the same year Henry IV appointed him bishop of Belley (1609-1628) and Camus became a fervent disciple of Saint François de Sales. Camus gave three speeches at the Etats-Généraux of 1614. After the death of François de Sales, Camus remained in Belley for a five more years, and then resigned his post in 1628. He was briefly given a position at the Abbey of Aunay in 1629, and subsequently performed other duties for the archibishop of Rouen. In the last years of his life, he consecrated himself to working with the poor in Paris. In 1652, he was appointed bishop of Arras, but died shortly thereafter.
Jean-Pierre Camus was one of the most prolific authors of the period 1620-1648. His prose is often suscinct and lacking in the elaborate rhetorical excess associated with authors -- such as Antoine de Nervèze -- from the previous generation. He also shows a vast knowledge of poetry.
Camus' first works were strongly influenced by the Essays of Michel de Montaigne, albeit with a far more religious content. His spiritual works were directly inspired by Saint François de Sales; he was critical of medicant orders and wrote extensively on poverty, grace and spiritual reflection.
Camus' fictional works encompass both novels and short-stories. His dark and violent short-stories, often based on contemporary anecdotes or criminal incidents (he wrote over 1000 such works) were in the tradition of the horrific tales ("histoires tragiques") of Matteo Bandello which were extremely popular in France in the late Renaissance and early seventeenth century. His longer novels show the influence of ancient Greek novels (such as the works of Heliodorus of Emesa and Achilles Tatius), with their scenes of tempests and kidnappings. Much of his fictional work has a decidedly moralistic intention of showing human folly, the unruliness of passions, the dangers of illicit love, and the saving grace of divine love.