Madame de Lafayette (Marie-Madeleine Pioche de la Vergne, comtesse de la Fayette): The Princess of Cleves
(La Princesse de Clèves)
This is one of my favourite books, but I’m not sure whether anyone else will like it.
Madame de Lafayette was a close friend of the Duc de la Rochefoucauld (author of the Maxims)
The Princess of Clèves is the first French historical novel, and an early psychological novel. It is set in the pleasure-loving court of Henri II of France. The young Mademoiselle de Chartres is married off to the Prince de Clèves. She then meets the love of her life, the Duc de Nemours. The ensuing conflict between love and duty is portrayed in the most beautifully proportioned classical French prose.
Unfortunately, the anonymous translation does not convey the same exquisite style. It also contained numerous translation errors, which I have corrected. I’ve also had to supply all the missing accents.
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