Dormont De Belloy - Encyclopedia


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DORMONT DE BELLOY, the name assumed by Pierre Laurent Buirette (1 727-177 5), French dramatist, was born at Saint-Flour, in Auvergne, on the 17th of November 1727. He was educated by his uncle, a distinguished advocate in Paris, for the bar. To escape from a profession he disliked he joined a troupe of comedians playing in the courts of the northern sovereigns. In 1758 the performance of his Tibris, which had already been produced in St Petersburg, was postponed through his uncle's exertions; and when it did appear, a hostile cabal procured its failure, and it was not until after his guardian's death that de Belloy returned to Paris with Zelmire (1762), a fantastic drama which met with great success. This was followed in 1765 by the patriotic play, Le Siege de Calais. The moment was opportune. The humiliations undergone by France in the Seven Years' War assured a good reception for a play in which the devotion of Frenchmen redeemed disaster. The popular enthusiasm was unaffected by the judgment of calmer critics such as Diderot and Voltaire, who pointed out that the glorification of France was not best effected by a picture of defeat. De Belloy was admitted to the Academy in 1772. His attempt to introduce national subjects into French drama deserves honour, but it must be confessed that his resources proved unequal to the task. The Siege de Calais was followed by Gaston et Bayard (1771), Pedro le cruel (1772) and Gabrielle de Vergy (1777). None of these attained the success of the earlier play, and de Belloy's death, which took place on the 5th of March 1 775, is said to have been hastened by disappointment.

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