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ABBE DE CLAUDE HENRI DE FUZEE VOISENO...

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 178 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ABBE DE CLAUDE HENRI DE FUZEE VOISENON (1708—75), French dramatist and man of letters, was born at the chateauof Voisenon near Melun, on the 3th of July 1708. At the age of ten he addressed an epistle in verse to Voltaire, who asked the boy to visit him. From this introduction dated a friendship that lasted for fifty years. Voisenon made his debut as a dramatist with L'Heureuse ressemblance in 1728, followed in 1739 by a three-act comedy L'Ecole du monde at the Theatre frangais. This was preceded by a verse prologue, L'Ombre de Moliere, and a month later Voisenon produced a criticism on his own piece in Le Retour de l'ombre de Moliere. A duel in which he was the aggressor inspired him with remorse, and he entered the priesthood, becoming vicar-general to the bishop of Boulogne. He received the abbey of Jard, which made no demands on him. He became closely attached to Madame du Chatelet, the mistress of Voltaire (q.v.), and was intimate with the comte de Caylus and Mademoiselle Quinault Dufresne. He made witty but by no means edifying contributions to the Etrennes de Saint-Jean, the Bads de Bois, &c. In 1744 he produced the Mariages assortis and in 1746 his masterpiece, the Coquette fixee. He lived on terms of the closest intimacy with Charles Simon Favart and his wife. His pen was always at the service of any of his friends, and it was generally supposed, though on insufficient grounds, that he had a considerable share in Favart's most successful operas. Voisenon had, strange to say, scruples all his life about the incongruity between his way of living and his profession, but he continued to write indecent stories for private circulation, and wrote verses in honour of Madame du Barry, as he had done for Madame de Pompadour. He was elected to the Academy in 1762. On the disgrace of his patron, the duc de Choiseul, he lost his pensions and honours, but soon recovered his position. He was intimate with the chancellor Maupeou, and was suspected of writing on his behalf in defence of the abolition of the parlement. This and some other incidents brought him into general disgrace. Early in 1775 he retired to the chateau de Voisenon, where he died on the 22nd of November of the same year. His cEuvres completes were published by his executrix, Madame. de Turpin, in 1781. VOI'f URE, VINCENT (1598-1648), French poet, was the son of a rich merchant of Amiens. He was introduced by a school-fellow, the comte d'Avaux, to Gaston d'Orleans, and accompanied him to Brussels and Lorraine on diplomatic missions. Although a follower of Gaston, he won the favour of Richelieu, and was one of the earliest academicians. He also received appointments and pensions from Louis XIII. and Anne of Austria. He published nothing in book form, but his verses and his prose letters were the delight of the coteries, and were copied, handed about and admired mote perhaps than the work of any contemporary. He had been early introduced to the Hotel de Rambouillet, where he was the especial friend of Julie d'Angennes, who called him her " dwarf king." His ingenuity in providing amusement for the younger members of the circle ensured his popularity, which was never seriously threatened except by Antoine Godeau, and this rivalry ceased when Richelieu appointed Godeau bishop of Grasse. When at the desire of the duc de Montausier nineteen poets contributed to the.Guirlande de Julie, which was to decide the much-feted Julie in favour of his suit, Voiture refused to take part. The quarrel between the Uranistes and the Jobelins arose over the respective merits of a sonnet of Voiture addressed to a certain Uranie, and of another composed by Isaac de .Benserade, till then unknown, on the subject of Job. Another famous piece of his of the same kind, La Belle Matineuse, is less exquisite, but still very admirable, and Voiture stands in the highest rank of writers of vers de societe. His prose letters are full of lively wit, and, in some cases, as in the letter on Richelieu's policy (Letter LXXIV.), show considerable political penetration. He ranks with Jean de Balzac as the chief director of the reform in French prose which accompanied that of Malherbe in French verse. Voiture died at the outbreak of the Fronde, which killed the society to which he was accustomed, on the 26th of May 1648. ' See A. Roux, cEuvres de M. de Voiture (Paris, 1856) ; and C. A. Sainte-Beuve, Causeries du lundi, vol. xii. 178 VOIVODE-
End of Article: ABBE DE CLAUDE HENRI DE FUZEE VOISENON (1708—75)
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