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The Princesse de Clèves (1678)

by Madame de La Fayette

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,872476,166 (3.42)105
Perhaps one of the greatest works of French literature is Madame de Lafayette's The Princess of Cleves, often described as the first of all "modern" novels. This classic translation, with an introduction, by the late English novelist and biographer Nancy Mitford, was first brought out in 1951 by New Directions. It is now made available as a New Directions Paperbook. Published in 1678 and written by Marie Madeleine Roche de la Vergne, Countess de Lafayette - a Parisian lady of fashion and great wit, who probably received help from her friend the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, author of the famous Maxims - it recreates with matchless vitality the lives and loves of the sixteenth-century courtiers of King Henry II of France. In her exquisite tapestry, we encounter such historic figures as Diane de Poitiers, the king's mistress; Catherine de Medicis, his queen; the doomed Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland. It tells the story of the consuming passion of the young Duc de Nemours for the beautiful wife of his friend the Prince of Cleves. Madame de Sevigne, the great letter writer and life-long friend of Madame de Lafayette, called Th e Princess of Cleves "one of the most charming things." It is still that - and it is also one of the truly great love stories of all literature. Book jacket.… (more)
  1. 30
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (andejons)
    andejons: Similar premises: married, upper class women fall in love with men of less than perfect moral standing. The outcomes are very different though.
  2. 20
    Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford (agmlll)
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» See also 105 mentions

English (36)  French (8)  Italian (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
A quote from the Madame de La Fayette author page here on Goodreads: "... the work is often taken to be the first true French novel and a prototype of the early psychological novel." This was definitely an interesting depiction of the intrigues of the French court, and when I say intrigues, I mean the intrigues of love. Initially, a bit overwhelmed with the multitude of characters described in the novel, I was finally able to keep everyone straight, although with effort. Regarding it being an early psychological novel, I would have to agree. The author was very skillful in depicting the inner workings of the characters' minds, especially those of the Princess of Cleves and the Duc de Nemours. ( )
  TheTrueBookAddict | Mar 23, 2020 |
1634-1693
  Marjoles | Mar 15, 2019 |
I think there's a good story in here somewhere. I wasn't fond of the writing style and there were way too many characters mentioned for me to keep track of who was who. The end was especially disappointing. To see happiness that comes along so rarely in life so close at hand, and to see Madame de Cleves just walk away from it was so frustrating! ( )
  ErinMa | Feb 22, 2019 |
My only criticism of my copy of this book is that it doesn't tell me whose translation it is. I'd been aware of Princess of Cleves for a long time but it wouldn't have occurred me to read it, but as I got it from SantaThing, I now had it and once I got into it, I enjoyed it very much. ( )
  mari_reads | Jul 21, 2018 |
Studied this in university back when I hadn't figured out I was asexual so had a tricky time explaining to my boyfriend that the reason I loved it so much was that the girl decided not to get with the guy (whom a friend and I had dubbed the Jerk de Nemours). Lol, good times.

Still remember all the literary discussion about the significance of watching/seeing, and all that guff; and still love it. The Jerk de Nemours strikes me even more now as a creepy stalker dudebro. Her husband also comes across as more controlling and sulky. Retiring to a Pyrenean convent remains the best possible solution. ( )
  zeborah | May 13, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (164 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Madame de La Fayetteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alexanderson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cave, TerenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Vilmorin, LouisePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haan, Frans deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Loy, RosettaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitford, NancyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ortiz, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prins-Willekes Macdonald, I.E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swarth, HélèneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swarth, HélèneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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At no time in France were splendour and refinement so brilliantly displayed as in the last years of the reign of Henri II.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Considered to be the first true French novel and a prototype of the early psychological novel.
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