Book Review: Dolet

Author Florence Byham Weinburg has created a work of fiction based on the actual life of Etienne Dolet, a French scholar, translator and printer, filling in the gaps of the historical record as plausibly as possible. Dolet is a remarkable, thoroughly researched novel.

The novel begins in Toulouse, France with Dolet witnessing the horrific sight of his friend, charged with heresy, being burned at the stake.

Etienne Dolet, born 1509 in Orleans, France, educated under a series of scholars and later as a university law student, was known for his extensive Latin knowledge and writings. His witty and often cutting political remarks resulted in many enemies, though he also had powerful friends. He often suddenly left an area as a wanted man, or at least under grave suspicion. Often protected and financially supported by friends, he found employment using his extensive knowledge and oratory proficiency.

Dolet became a skilled printer, but his own books were criticized by the Catholic Church for their content. Dolet defends his position believing that his writing represented the true message of Christianity.

During his lifetime, Dolet spent a considerable amount of time in prison either defending himself against a trumped-up murder charge, which was actually self-defense, or because of suspicion by the French Inquisition that he was an atheist, charges made more serious because of his published books. Dolet stood fast on his efforts to reform abuses of the Church, not destroy her. He died a tragic death in 1546 on his 37th birthday.

Dolet is a fascinating read. Florence Byham Weinburg’s research is impressive as she follows the short life and times of this controversial figure. To learn more about the author, visit

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Dolet

    • That’s an interesting observation, Judy. You’re right–our history verifies the fact that religion plays an important part in all societies.

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