1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hoffmann, François Benoît

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HOFFMANN, FRANÇOIS BENOÎT (1760-1828), French dramatist and critic, was born at Nancy on the 11th of July 1760. He studied law at the university of Strassburg, but a slight hesitation in his speech precluded success at the bar, and he entered a regiment on service in Corsica. He served, however, for a very short time, and, returning to Nancy, he wrote some poems which brought him into notice at the little court of Lunéville over which the marquise de Boufflers then presided. In 1784 he went to Paris, and two years later produced the opera Phèdre. His opera Adrien (1792) was objected to by the government on political grounds, and Hoffmann, who refused to make the changes proposed to him, ran considerable risk under the revolutionary government. His later operas, which were numerous, were produced at the Opéra Comique. In 1807 he was invited by Étienne to contribute to the Journal de l'Empire (afterwards the Journal des débats). Hoffmann's wide reading qualified him to write on all sorts of subjects, and he turned, apparently with no difficulty, from reviewing books on medicine to violent attacks on the Jesuits. His severe criticism of Chateaubriand's Martyrs led the author to make some changes in a later edition. He had the reputation of being an absolutely conscientious and incorruptible critic and thus exercised wide influence. Hoffmann died in Paris on the 25th of April 1828. Among his numerous plays should be mentioned an excellent one-act comedy, Le Roman d'une heure (1803), and an amusing one-act opera Les Rendez-vous bourgeois.

See Sainte-Beuve, “M. de Feletz et la critique littéraire sous l'Empire” in Causeries du lundi, vol. i.