Jean-Baptiste Rousseau


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Rousseau, Jean-Baptiste

 

Born Apr. 6, 1670 or 1671, in Paris; died Mar. 17, 1741, in Brussels. French poet.

Rousseau studied in a Jesuit college. His first literary efforts were praised by Boileau. In 1712, Rousseau was exiled for life from France for defaming his literary rivals. An outstanding versifier, Rousseau became famous for his Odes, which had a variety of subjects and rhythms, and for his versions of the Psalms. Rousseau created a new poetic genre, the cantata, of which his best-known example is the “Cantata on Circe”; he also wrote epigrams and versified epistles. His comedies were unsuccessful. Excessive allegory and didacticism made Rousseau’s poetry an example of second-rate classicism and a target for satire by romantic critics.

WORKS

Oeuvres complètes, vols. 1–5. Paris, 1795–96.
Oeuvres, vols. 1–5. Paris, 1820.
Oeuvres lyriques. Paris, 1876.
In Russian translation:
Na schast’e. Translated by Sumarokov and Lomonosov. St. Petersburg [n. d.].

REFERENCES

lstoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. Page 605.
Sainte-Beuve, C. A. Portraits littéraires, vol. 1. Paris, 1862.
Bottet, J. Le Bannissement de J.-B. Rousseau. Paris, 1899.
Grubbs, H. A. Jean-Baptiste Rousseau: His Life and Works. Princeton-London, 1941.

L. N. TOKAREV

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Though Quinault often avoids resolutely tragic endings, his successors take a different tack: "de 1687 a 1699, periode ou produisent notamment Campistron, Jean-Baptiste Rousseau et du Boulay, le nombre des denouements malheureux est de huit contre sept" (269).
Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, a long-time enemy, is the object of gross personal attack, notably in the mock-heroic La Crepinade, while his later poetry is disparaged in an Utile examen, both edited by Francois Moureau.
Having been praised by Luzac, Formey first contacted him in order to set up a new periodical, the Bibliotheque impartiale, a work which was quickly at the centre of controversy due to its praise of one of Voltaire's pet hates, the poet Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, an action which led another prominent journalist, living in exile in Holland and similarly critical of Voltaire, Jean Rousset de Missy, to accuse Formey of being a pedant (see Christiane Berkvens-Stevenlink and Jeroom Vercruysse, Le Metier de journaliste au dix-huiteme siecle (Oxford:Voltaire Foundation, 1993), p.
Fletcher's edition of the Epitre sur la calomnie, a sharp response to Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, and Pierre Retat's edition of the Lettre a un premier commis, a plea for freedom of the press which reveals something of Voltaire's conception of the social and economic function of literature.