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Voisenon, Claude Henri De Fuzee

VOISENON, CLAUDE HENRI DE FUZEE, ABBE DE (1708-75), French dramatist and man of letters, was born at the chateaju of Voisenon near Melun, on the 8th 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 dfibut as a dramatist with L'Heureuse ressemblance in 1728, followed in 1739 by a three-act comedy L'Ecole du monde at the Theatre francais. 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 I'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 (?..), and was intimate with the comte de Caylus and Mademoiselle Quinault Dufresne. He made witty but by no means edifying contributions to the Elrennes de Saint- Jean, the Bals de Bois, etc. In 1 744 he produced the Mariages assortis and in 1746 his masterpiece, the Coquette fixie. 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 due 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 (Euvres completes were published by his executrix, Madame de Turpin, in 1781.

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

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