La Harpe, Jean-François de

La Harpe, Jean-François de


Born Nov. 20, 1739, in Paris; died there Feb. 11, 1803. French playwright and literary theoretician. Member of the Académie Française (1776).

La Harpe was a disciple of Voltaire in enlightened classical dramaturgy. The tragedy Warwick (staged 1763, published 1764; Russian translation, 1814) was his most successful play. He wrote tragedies on classical themes directed against feudal-estate relations—for example, Timoleon (staged 1764), Philoclète (published 1781), and Coriolanus (staged and published 1784). His anticlerical drama, Mélante (published 1770), was banned (it was staged in 1791). After the Great French Revolution, La Harpe became a reactionary and a zealous Catholic, opposing the Enlighteners.

La Harpe was well known for his critical works, particularly Lycée, or A Course in Ancient and Modern Literature (vols. 1–16, 1799–1805; Russian translation, parts 1–5,1810–14). La Harpe’s literary views were marked by narrowness, intolerance, and an attempt to canonize the aesthetic norms of French classicism.


Oeuvres, vols. 1–16. Paris, 1821.
In Russian translation:
Poslaniekgr. A. P. Shuvalovu o deistvii selskoi prirody i opoeziiopisatel’noi. Moscow, 1817.


Sainte-Beuve, C. Oeuvres, vol. 1. [Paris, 1949.]
Sproull, G. M. The Critical Doctrine of J.-F. de la Harpe. Chicago, 1939.