Austrian writer and poet; born July 12, 1753, in Brünn, Moravia; guillotined April 5, 1793, at Paris. The son of a wealthy Jew, Dobruska was originally destined for the career of a rabbi, and accordingly received a careful Talmudic education. Later the acquaintance of a Jew engaged in the study of Hebrew poetry, rhetoric, and Oriental languages induced him to give up theological subjects and to devote himself to the humanities, but not until after a painful struggle with his father, who protested against his plans being so radically brought to naught. Having overcome the paternal opposition, Dobruska eagerly began to study the old German classics and poets. Especially the idyls of Gessner made a deep impression upon him and instigated him to the further study of the German poets. In his ardent pursuit of literary occupations he even succeeded in persuading his father to allow him a considerable sum of money (1,500 florins) for the purchase of books. Besides German he also studied English, French, and Italian.
On Dec. 17, 1773, Dobruska embraced the Roman Catholic faith, and at his baptism in Prague assumed the name of Franz Thomas Schönfeld. Subsequently, together with his brothers, he was raised to the nobility (1778); and for some time he held the position of associate director of the famous Garelli Library in Vienna. Nothing is known in regard to the cause of Dobruska's execution.
Besides several posthumous poems that appeared in Becker's "Taschenbuch zum Geselligen Vergnügen," Dobruska published: "Etliche Gedichte zur Probe," Vienna, 1773; "Schäferspiele," Prague, 1774; "Theorie der Schönen Wissenschaften," Prague; "Ueber die Poesie der Alten Hebräer," ib.;"Ein Schäfergedicht in Hebräischer Sprache," ib.; "Eine Hebräische Poetische Uebersetzung des Pythagoras' Goldener Sprüche," Prague, 1775; "Gebet oder Christliche Ode in Psalmen," Vienna; "David's Kriegsgesänge, Deutsch aus dem Grundtexte," Vienna and Leipsie, 1789.
- Constant von Wurzbach, Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich, xxxi. 150-151, Vienna, 1876;
- Karl Goedeke, Grundriss zur Geschichte der Deutschen Dichtung, iv. 81, Dresden, 1891.