Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 816 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LEANDRO ANTONIO EULOGIO MELITUN FERNANDEZ DE MORATIN (176o-1828), Spanish dramatist and poet, the son of N. F. de Moratin, was born at Madrid on the loth of March 176o. Though his poetical tastes were early developed, his father apprenticed him to a jeweller. At the age of eighteen Moratin won the second prize of the Academy for a heroic poem on the conquest of Granada, and two years afterwards he attracted more general attention with his Leccien poetica, a satire uponthe popular poets of the day. He was appointed secretary to Cabarrus on a special mission to France in 1787. On his return to Spain, Moratin was tonsured and presented to a sinecure benefice in the diocese of Burgos, and in 1786 his first play, El Viejo y la nina,was produced at the Teatro del Principe. Owing to the opposition of the clerical party, it was speedily withdrawn. The prose comedy, El Cafe 6 la comedia nueva, given at the same theatre six years afterwards, at once became popular. On the fall of Florida Blanca, Moratin found another patron in Godoy, who provided him with a" pension and the means for foreign travel; he accordingly visited England, where he began a prose translation of Hamlet, printed in 1798 but never performed. From England he passed to the Low Countries, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, and on his return to the Peninsula in 1796 was appointed official translator to the foreign office. In 1803 he produced El BarOn in its present form; originally written (179,) as a zarzuela, it was shamelessly plagiarized by Andres de Mendoza, but the recast, a far more brilliant work, still keeps the stage. It was followed in 1804 by La Mogigata, written between 1797 and 1803. This piece was favourably received, and an attempt to suppress it on religious grounds failed. Moratfn's crowning triumph in original comedy was El Si de las Ninas (1806), which was performed night after night to crowded houses, ran through several Spanish editions in a year, and was soon translated into a number of foreign languages. In 18o8 Moratin was involved in the fall of Godoy, but in 1811 accepted the office of royal librarian under Joseph Bonaparte=a false step, which alienated from him all sympathy and compelled him to spend his last years in exile. In 1812 his Escuela de los maridos, a translation of Moliere's Ecole des maxis, was produced at Madrid, and in 1813 El Medico 4 Palos (a translation of Le Medecin malgre lui) at Barcelona. From 1814 to 1828 Moratin lived in Italy and France, compiling a work on the early Spanish drama (Origenes del teatro eipanol). He died at Paris on the 21st of June 1828. The most convenient edition of his works is that given in "vol. ii. of the Biblioteca de, autores espanoles; this is supplemented by the Obras postumas (3 vols., Madrid, 1867-1868).

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