The good, the bad and the obsolete: rediscovering the Princess of Clèves | The Bright Old Oak


Reblogged from The Bright Old Oak

princess

Recognised as the first modern novel in history, “La Princesse de Clèves” has ridden a rollercoaster in terms of popularity and fame ever since its first publication in anonymous form in March 1678. Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, countess of La Fayette, simply known as Madame de La Fayette was a 28 year-old married woman when she saw her first work published in Paris. Following her début with “La Princesse de Montpensier”, the first volume of the romance “Zaïde” would be published seven years later, with a second volume following in 1671. Despite not having been spared any negative criticism, most works by La Fayette saw an overall interest and reception. The public was enchanted by her way of telling stories, as they would often remind the reader of contemporary life:fictional characters would often match with the reality of that time, attracting readers and turning her works into a first type of realist novels. There is no doubt that her 1678 book “La Princesse de Clèves” would be her greatest hit. Its theme and topics are so timeless we cannot help but wonder how readers reacted to the main storyline through the centuries. In fact, playwright Honoré de Balzac’s 1835 “Le Lys dans la Vallée” presents very similar circumstances to La Fayette’s novel in terms of love and relationships.

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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

2 thoughts on “The good, the bad and the obsolete: rediscovering the Princess of Clèves | The Bright Old Oak

  1. Thanks for sharing. I wasn’t aware of the author but I saw recently a performance of Mozart’s unfinished ‘Zaide’. It must have been her work…

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