Pierre-Claude Nivelle de La Chaussée

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Pierre-Claude Nivelle de La Chaussée
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Nivelle de La Chaussée (1736)
Born 14 February 1692
Died 14 May 1754(1754-05-14) (aged 62)
Occupation Playwright

Pierre-Claude Nivelle de La Chaussée (14 February 1692 in Paris – 14 May 1754 in Paris) was a French dramatist who blurred the lines between comedy and tragedy with his comédie larmoyante .

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Comédie larmoyante was a genre of French drama of the 18th century. In this type of sentimental comedy, the impending tragedy was resolved at the end, amid reconciliations and floods of tears. Plays of this genre that ended unhappily nevertheless allowed the audience to see that a "moral triumph" had been earned for the suffering heroes and heroines.


In 1731 he published an Epître a Clio, a didactic poem in defense of Leriget de la Faye in his dispute with Antoine Houdar de la Motte, who had maintained that verse was useless in tragedy. La Chaussée was forty years old before he produced his first play, La Fausse Antipathic (1734). His second play, Le Prejugée à la mode (1735) turns on the fear of incurring ridicule felt by a man in love with his own wife, a prejudice dispelled in France, according to La Harpe, by La Chaussée's comedy. L'Ecole des amis (1737) followed, and, after an unsuccessful attempt at tragedy in Maximinien, he returned to comedy in Mélanide (1741).

Jean-François Leriget de La Faye was a French diplomat, wealthy landowner and art collector, poet, and member of the Académie française for a single year.

Antoine Houdar de la Motte French author

Antoine Houdar de la Motte was a French author.

Tragedy form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in audiences

Tragedy is a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in audiences. While many cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, the term tragedy often refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of Western civilisation. That tradition has been multiple and discontinuous, yet the term has often been used to invoke a powerful effect of cultural identity and historical continuity—"the Greeks and the Elizabethans, in one cultural form; Hellenes and Christians, in a common activity," as Raymond Williams puts it.

Mélanide fully develops the type known as comédie larmoyante . Comedy was no longer to provoke laughter, but tears. The innovation consisted in destroying the sharp distinction then existing between tragedy and comedy in French literature. Indications of this change had been already offered in the work of Marivaux, and La Chaussée's plays led naturally to the domestic drama of Diderot and of Sedaine. The new method found bitter enemies. Alexis Piron nicknames the author "le Reverend Père Chaussee," and ridiculed him in one of his most famous epigrams.

French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional languages of France other than French. Literature written in French language, by citizens of other nations such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Senegal, Algeria, Morocco, etc. is referred to as Francophone literature. France itself ranks first in the list of Nobel Prizes in literature by country.

Denis Diderot French Enlightenment philosopher and encyclopædist

Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer, best known for serving as co-founder, chief editor, and contributor to the Encyclopédie along with Jean le Rond d'Alembert. He was a prominent figure during the Enlightenment.

Michel-Jean Sedaine French writer

Michel-Jean Sedaine was a French dramatist and librettist, especially noted for his librettos for opéras comiques, in which he took an important and influential role in the advancement of the genre from the period of Charles-Simon Favart to the beginning of the Revolution.

Voltaire maintained that the comédie larmoyante was a proof of the inability of the author to produce either of the recognized kinds of drama, though he himself produced a play of similar character in L'Enfant prodigue. The hostility of the critics did not prevent the public from shedding tears nightly over the sorrows of La Chaussee's heroine.

Voltaire French writer, historian, and philosopher

François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plumeVoltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and separation of church and state.

L’École des Mères (1744) and La Gouvernante (1747) form, with those already mentioned, the best of his work. The strict moral aims pursued by La Chaussée in his plays seem hardly consistent with his private preferences. He frequented the same high society as did the comte de Caylus and contributed to the Recueils de ces messieurs. Villemain said of his style that he wrote prosaic verses with purity, while Voltaire, usually an adverse critic of his work, said he was "un des premiers apres ceux qui ont du genie."

For the comédie larmoyante see Gustave Lanson, Ninette de la Chaussée et la comedie larmoyante (1887).

Gustave Lanson French historian

Gustave Lanson was a French historian and literary critic. He taught at the Sorbonne in Paris.


Sablier published the Œuvres de Monsieur Nivelle de La Chaussée (Paris, Prault, 1762, 5 vol. in-12°). Other Œuvres choisies (Paris, 1813, 2 vol. in-18 ; 1825, in-18°) were published including:


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