Antoine Houdar de la Motte

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Antoine Houdar de la Motte

Antoine Houdar de la Motte (born January 17, 1672 in Paris , † December 26, 1731 in Paris) was a French writer.


La Motte (as he is usually called in literary histories) is only known today as an important figure in the contemporary Parisian literary scene and as a major player in the so-called Second Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes . In his day, however, he was a respected poet, playwright and literary theorist for thirty years.

He grew up the son of a hatter named Houdar, attended a Jesuit college and began studying law. However, his real interest was early on in the theater. After the failure of his first listed play, the comedy Les originaux (1693), he decided to become a monk, but broke off his novitiate and became a writer again. He now wrote a whole series of tragedies, comedies, and especially ballet and opera libretti, some of which, e.g. B. the ballet comedy L'Europe galante (by Campra ), the "heroic pastorale" Issé by Destouches (both 1697), or the ballet Le Triomphe de l'Art (1700) were very successful, while most of the others were very successful after one Game time were canceled again. The tragedy Sémelé with music by Marin Marais (1709) was also a failure .

Thanks to his first successes, La Motte found access to the capital's literary salons, for example. B. that of the Duchess of Maine or the Marquise de Lambert , where he knew how to effectively recite his poems, mostly odes . In 1709 he published them collectively in the volume Odes , in which one finds what was new for poetry, occasionally also the political present darkened by King Louis XIV and his endless wars as a theme.

In 1710 he was elected to the Académie Française , against his colleague Jean-Baptiste Rousseau , who was also running and who was once friends , and who ventured his disappointment with angry epigrams about him and other writers.

In 1714, La Motte (now blind) processed a larger excerpt from a recently published prose translation of the Iliad into a version in verse and attached a Discours sur Homère , in which he tried to prove that this ancient author was creditable in his time had been, but could no longer keep up with the best of modern authors. When he was then attacked by the translator, Anne Dacier , an admirer of ancient literature, La Motte responded with the writing Réflexions sur la critique and thus triggered a continuation of the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes of 1687, whereby he was so well known Authors such as Fontenelle and Marivaux supported. In the context of this dispute he now, paradoxically, pleaded for the use of prose instead of verse in all narrative and also in the dramatic genres. B. animated the young Voltaire on the other side to attack.

His plea for prose did not prevent La Motte from publishing a small volume of rhyming fables in 1719 and, after the failure of three prose comedies, from 1722 onwards, his last plays, four tragedies, were again written in verse, the usual paired rhyming Alexandrians .

In 1723 he published his most successful work in the long term, the tragedy Inès de Castro , set at the Portuguese royal court in the 14th century . For today's terms, it is a very maudlin, psychologically flat piece about the (probably historical) noble lady-in-waiting Ines and her (not historical) evil enemy, the queen, by whom she is poisoned in the end, much to the horror of the others, all of them extremely noble People. La Motte anticipated elements of the later, also mostly highly moral drame bourgeois ( bourgeois tragedy ) and, after Racine's Athalie , dared to be one of the first to show children on stage in a tragedy, even if only very briefly and without letting them speak .

In the twenties he also dealt with the theory of theater and in 1730 published four Discours sur la tragédie and a suite [= continuation] of the réflexions sur la tragédie . In this he demanded u. a. a flexibilization of the classic principle of the three units , if strictly adhered to, a tragedy was set in a single location, represented a time span of a maximum of 24 hours and could not contain any subplots. With his demand for more flexibility in dealing with the above Principle, which has been undisputed for more than 80 years, it set the trend for the further development of the dramatic genres.

Web links

Commons : Antoine Houdar de La Motte  - Collection of images, videos and audio files