Beaumarchais, Pierre-Augustin [Caron de]
- Rudolph Angermüller
- , revised by Philip E.J. Robinson
(b Paris, Jan 24, 1732; d Paris, May 18, 1799). French writer. The son of a clockmaker, he defended his invention of a watch escapement mechanism against theft by the royal clockmaker Lepaute, whom he replaced at court in 1755. He subsequently became harp teacher to the daughters of Louis XV and, thanks to contact with the homme d’affaires Pâris-Duverney, was ultimately able to buy himself into the nobility. In his Essai sur le genre dramatique sérieux (1767), the preface to his Eugénie, he took up the ideas of Diderot in favour of a distinct genre of drame, different from both French classical tragedy and comedy. His works in this genre outnumber his Figaro comedies, and even these show its influence: he returned to it fully in the third Figaro play, La mère coupable (1792). His racy parades, playlets written for the high-society private stage, served as an apprenticeship in comic musical theatre, particularly in the use of vaudevilles (well-known tunes sung, as part of the dramatic text, to new words). ...