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La Motte, Antoine Houdar De

LA MOTTE, ANTOINE HOUDAR DE (1672-1731), French author, was born in Paris on the 18th of January 1672. In 1693 his comedy Les Originaux proved a complete failure, which so depressed the author that he contemplated joining the Trappists, but four years later he again began writing operas and ballets, e.g. L'Europe galanle (1697), and tragedies, one of which, Ines de Castro (1723), was produced with immense success at the Theatre Francais. He was a champion of the moderns in the revived controversy of the ancients and moderns. Madame Dacier had published (1699) a translation of the Iliad, and La Motte, who knew no Greek, made a translation (1714) in verse founded on her work. The nature of his work may be judged from his own expression: " I have taken the liberty to change what I thought disagreeable in it." He defended the moderns in the Discours sur Homere prefixed to his translation, and in his Reflexions sur la critique (1716). Apart from the merits of the controversy, it was conducted on La Motte's side with a wit and politeness which compared very favourably with his opponent's methods. He was elected to the Academy in 1710, and soon after became blind. La Motte carried on a correspondence with the duchesse du Maine, and was the friend of Fontenelle. He had the same freedom from prejudice, the same inquiring mind as the latter, and it is on the excellent prose in which his views are expressed that his reputation rests. He died in Paris on the 26th of December 1731.

His (Eumes du theatre (2 vols.) appeared in 1730, and his (Euvres (10 vols.) in 1754. See A. H. Rigault, Histoire de la querelle des anciens et des modernes (1859).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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