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Character Interview: Etienne Dolet from Florence Byham Weinberg’s nonfiction/historical novel, ‘Dolet’



Dolet_medWe’re thrilled to have here today Etienne Dolet from Florence Weinberg’s new nonfiction novel, Dolet.  Etienne is a 37-year-old publisher who lived in Lyon, France in the sixteenth century.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Etienne.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Perhaps my author was too kind. She left out one of the hottest controversies of my literary life, between me and my arch-enemy Julius Caesar Scaligiero or Scaliger, as we French call him. He was nasty, snide, sarcastic and attacked me ad hominem, but I was nastier and wittier. At least, I think so. I suspect my author thought the whole thing too obscure, scholarly, complicated and nasty to go into the book. She showed the intransigent side of my character in other ways.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

With what I just said taken into account, I think she portrayed me very well. I was always someone who told my friends and my enemies just what I thought. No beating around the bush, no little white lies. If they couldn’t take it, too bad for them. But they always knew where they stood with me. I had wonderful friends, and they stuck by me to the end. I could be loving, generous, and always had a strong sense of justice. I showed that in taking the print-shop workers’ part when they fought for higher wages that hadn’t been raised for at least 50 years. My author showed all that.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

What I just said. I made friends who stuck by me through thick and thin. I think they appreciated the fact that nothing I said in their absence was any different from what I said in their presence. Besides that, I was a brilliant scholar of the Latin language and of Marcus Tullius Cicero. I was one of the finest writers of Ciceronian Latin in my age, was a historian with ideas you would call “modern,” and wrote a book on the art of translation with precepts in use in your twenty-first century. But of course I was cut off in my prime—on my thirty-seventh birthday when the Inquisition tortured and burned me at the stake.

Worse trait?

Ye-es…. In hindsight, I know that I unjustly blamed some of my friends for having abandoned me when I was thrown into prison in Lyon for the first time. They actually hadn’t. They were afraid and had good reason to be. However, I never forgave them, never tried to make things right. I was too self-righteous, too intransigent.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

It would have to be a British actor, someone who has gravitas but a sense of humor at the same time. He would have to be tall—I was over six feet—and dark haired, dark-eyed. He would have to be fairly young or at least in early middle years. Patrick Stewart could carry it off, but he is bald, blue-eyed and way too old. He could portray the character traits, though, that I had. Well, at least you know the type of actor I’d look for—if such another exists.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes, of course. I passionately loved one woman, Louise Giraud, who became my wife and with whom I had a lovely son, Claude. I only hope and pray that she can make it without me, and that Claude will grow up to be a fine man, even without his father. I have confidence in Louise, though, that she can pull that off.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When Henri Guillot forced me to fight a duel with him that night. I had never even held an epee before that but, with fool’s and beginner’s luck, I killed him—ran him through the throat—and he, who had practiced fencing for months died. I knew right then I was in deep trouble. Guillot belonged to one of the old Lyonese families, you see, and I was a relative newcomer. I ran for my life with his bodyguard pelting after me, and, in a sense, I kept on running for the rest of my life.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

It’s a hard choice between the Chief Inquisitor, Matthieu Orry, and Cardinal François-Juste II de Tournon, but I think I’ll choose de Tournon. Both men desired most passionately to burn me at the stake, but Orry could have been—and was—overruled by King François I, whereas de Tournon dominated His Majesty’s policy decisions toward the end of the king’s life. I blame de Tournon for the total extermination of a sect of Christians called the Vaudois. They had existed since 1179, were not Protestants, but based their faith on the Scriptures rather than on decrees from Rome. De Tournon had the army attack them, slaughter them, lock them in houses and burn them. None survived, and he had a solemn Te Deum Mass sung in Notre Dame Cathedral to celebrate his satanic deed.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

My author did me justice in the end, as she did in most of the book. I behaved reasonably well under torture, even with a bit of humor in extremis. What I like most about the ending is how my author showed the courage and virtue of my wife Louise.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

I would tell her to put in the bit about Scaliger. The whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Thank you for this interview, Etienne.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

No, I think this book wrapped up my life pretty well. Not much else to tell. Goodbye, and thanks for letting me speak my piece.


Title: Dolet

Genre: Nonfiction Novel; Historical Fiction

Author: Florence Byham Weinberg


Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Read Chapter One

Amazon / OmniLit / Twilight Times Books

About the Book:

Dolet depicts the life and times of Etienne Dolet. Etienne, who told the bald truth to friend and foe alike, angered the city authorities in sixteenth-century Toulouse, fled to Lyon, and became a publisher of innovative works on language, history, and theology. His foes framed him; he was persecuted, imprisoned, and ultimately executed by the Inquisition for daring to publish the Bible in French translation.

What readers are saying:

“[Dolet]  …I read it all with pleasure, and delighted to see names that I have known for some time coming alive as “characters,” albeit fictitious ones. I especially liked the way in which you brought out the sense of community, of being a band of brothers that so many of those amazing people shared.”
~ Kenneth Lloyd-Jones, Professor, Trinity College, Hartford, CT


About the Author:

Florence Byham Weinberg, born in Alamogordo, New Mexico, lived on a ranch, on a farm, and traveled with her military family. After earning a PhD, she taught for 36 years in three universities. She published four scholarly books. Since retiring, she has written seven historical novels and one philosophical fantasy/thriller. She lives in San Antonio, loves cats, dogs and horses, and great-souled friends with good conversation. Visit her website and connect with her on Facebook.

1 Comment

  1. thedarkphantom says:

    Reblogged this on As The Pages Turn.

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