Against marriage : the correspondence of la Grande by Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans Montpensier, Duchesse De

By Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans Montpensier, Duchesse De Montpensier

In seventeenth-century France, aristocratic girls have been valued through their households as commodities to be married off in trade for cash, social virtue, or army alliance. as soon as married, they grew to become legally subservient to their husbands. The duchesse de Montpensier—a first cousin of Louis XIV—was certainly one of only a few exceptions, because of the gigantic wealth she inherited from her mom, who died presently after Montpensier was once born. She was once additionally one of many few politically robust girls in France on the time to were an finished writer.

In the bold letters provided during this bilingual variation, Montpensier condemns the alliance method of marriage, presenting in its place to chanced on a republic that she could govern, "a nook of the area within which . . . ladies are their very own mistresses," and the place marriage or even courtship will be outlawed. Her pastoral utopia would offer therapy and vocational education for the negative, and all of the houses might have libraries and experiences, in order that every one girl might have a "room of her personal" within which to jot down books.

Joan DeJean's energetic advent and obtainable translation of Montpensier's letters—four formerly unpublished—allow us remarkable entry to the brave voice of this amazing woman.

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In order to ransom him, she was forced to give up huge territories—in particular, the earldom of Eu and Dombes, an independent principality that officially became a part of France only in 1762, which she was obliged to sign over to the duc du Maine, the illegitimate son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. Lauzun was thus allowed to return to Paris. The couple may have been secretly married, though no one is sure that a wedding actually did take place. More important is the fact that the beloved whose freedom she had purchased at such great expense was apparently never even minimally convincing in his declarations of love; he also seems to have paid far too much attention to other women.

Almost without exception—and Montpensier was most emphatically not one of those rare exceptions—women of her day had no formal education to speak of. Those women who became writers found either a male relative who oversaw their education or, when they were already adults, a scholar willing to help them make up for lost time. Without the collaboration of men such as Huet and Segrais, the most influential women writers of early modern France would never have been able to gain the familiarity with literary tradition that any author needs to acquire in order to produce his or her own fiction.

25 MONTPENSIER-MOTTEVILLE CORRESPONDANCE Lettres de Mademoiselle écrites à Madame de Motteville, fameuses par l’approbation qu’elles reçurent à la Cour et à Paris; et ses Réponses à cette Princesse. LET TRE 1 Lettre de Mademoiselle à Madame de Motteville à Saint-Jean-de-Luz sur une conversation qu’elle eut l’honneur de faire avec elle à la vue de la mer sur le bonheur de la vie solitaire envoyée par un homme inconnu. A Saint-Jean-de-Luz le 14 mai 1660 M 26 ’étant trouvée l’autre jour auprès de vous lorsque vous causiez chez la Reine avec une de vos amies du bonheur de la vie retirée, il me sembla que votre conversation n’avait jamais été plus charmante et plus agréable, je l’écoutais avec plaisir, et depuis j’ai passé de bonnes heures à y penser, ce lieu étant le plus propre du monde à entretenir la rêverie lors qu’on se promène sur le bord de la mer; ainsi, Madame, je me suis imaginée que vous ne trouveriez pas mauvais que je vous fisse part des sentiments que vous m’avez inspirés et de l’opinion que j’estime qu’il faut avoir pour rendre cette retraite dont vous parliez, divertissante et profitable.

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