Male Narcissism vs. Female Desire in M-me Fayette’s Princesse de Clèves

Posted: 17/03/2021 by vequinox in Literature


51LssXi4QpLOn the 18th of March 1634, French writer Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, comtesse de La Fayette, was born (or according to some records) baptized in Paris. She was the author of La Princesse de Clèves, France’s first documented historical novel. Published anonymously in March 1678, the story is considered rather modern for its penchant for psychological analysis – a roman d’analyse (novel of analysis), cleverly dissecting the characters’ emotions and attitudes. This style of writing was to become a constant in French fiction until the era of Romanticism, when writers fully immersed themselves in the experience of feelings rather than their analysis.

The action of the novel takes place in mid-16th century at the royal court of Henry II of France, recreating the era with remarkable precision; each character is a real historical figure except for the heroine, Mademoiselle de Chartres, later Princesse de Clèves…

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