Claude Joseph Dorat - Encyclopedia




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CLAUDE JOSEPH DORAT (1734-1780), French man of letters, was born in Paris on the 31st of December 1734. He belonged to a family whose members had for generations been lawyers, and he entered the corps of the king's musketeers. He obtained a great vogue by his Reponse d'Abailard a Heloise, and followed up this first success with a number of heroic epistles, Les Victimes de l'amour, ou lettres de quelques amants celebres (1776). Dorat was possessed by an ambition quite out of proportion to his very mediocre ability. Besides light verse he wrote comedies, fables and, among other novels, Les Sacrifices de l'amour, ou lettres de la vicomtesse de Senanges et du chevalier de V ersenay (1771). He tried to cover his failures as a dramatist by buying up a great number of seats, and his books were lavishly illustrated by good artists and expensively produced, to secure their success. He was maladroit enough to draw down on himself the hatred both of the philosophe party and of their arch-enemy Charles Palissot, and thus cut himself off from the possibility of academic honours. Le Tartufe litteraire (1777) attacked La Harpe and Palissot, and at the same time D'Alembert and Mlle de Lespinasse. Dorat died on the 29th of April 1780 in Paris.

See G. Desnoireterres, Le Chevalier Dorat et les pates le'gers au X VIII e siecle (1887). For the bibliographical value of his works, see Henry Cohen, Guide de l'amateur de livres a figures et a vignettes du X VIII e siecle (editions of Ch. Mehl, 1876, and R. Portalis, 1887).

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