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 What are you reading currently? 
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Prince/Princesse
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
I've just finished reading the biography of Madame du Barry by Joan Haslip so I can open the new topic about it if there are members who read it and want to discuss it.

Today I started reading "Godfather of the revolution - The life of Philippe Egalite, Duc D'Orleans" (Tom Ambrose) and here are some quotes from the preface:

"Philippe Egalite's undoubted honesty, coupled with his bold political actions, made him the hero of the people and a ready-made substitute for the despotic Louis XVI. A man of unusual physical bravery, he risked his life in one of the first balloon ascents in history, acting with the same determination with which he challenged the power of the King in the open assembly of the Estates General."

Ok, I was surprised that anyone can speak favourable of this man, as everything I've ever read or heard about him indicates one greedy and corrupted personality, capable of voting for the death of his cousin and creating the strong and vicious propaganda which will end with the fall of monarchy. Still, if we forget this word despotic, it made me curios to read something which appears to be his defence.

"...This bold Anglophilia made him increasingly feared and despised by the court at Versailles, annoying Louis XVI and enraging queen Marie Antoinette, who became his bitterest enemy"

I've heard that he admired everything English but never that Marie Antoinette had any special feeling about it. If any hatred came from her side, I would assume that it was a consequence of his actions against her. :?

Now I am reading about his parents and his early life and so far it is interesting.
I would like to know has anyone read this book or know more about this english author? I will certainly post more information after I finish it.

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Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:31 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
Marija Vera - Yes I've read Haslip's book. Stanley Loomis also did a nice bio of Madame DuBarry. I actually quite like her and think that she suffers much misunderstanding. There are already a couple topics relating to her under "Entourage' - I'd be happy to join you there if you want to discuss her!
The current book you've started sounds good - I need to read a boi of him too.

I am currently taking a break from reading the second of Webster's books on Loius XVI and Marie Antoinette - her information on the whole is allright - But - she's got some ideas that I'm not so sure about. Needed to take a break from her - starting a book called "The Crowd in the French Revolution" by George Rude'.


Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:51 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
I've just started into an English translation of The Princesse de Cleves, by Madame de Lafayette (1678), which has been called France's first romantic novel. Set at the court of Henri II, it explores the life and love of beautiful Mme. de Cleves.


Quote:
"...This bold Anglophilia made him increasingly feared and despised by the court at Versailles, annoying Louis XVI and enraging queen Marie Antoinette, who became his bitterest enemy"



Marija Vera, I haven't read this book, but this statement is problematic for me. As we know, during the last years before the Revolution, French society was gripped with "Anglophilia," as everything British was "in." The Queen was no exception with her English Garden at the Petit Trianon, and her love of English textiles in her clothing. I can not see how the Duc d'Orleans passion for British 'things', could possibly "enrage" M.A., considering that she shared a similar taste. If anything enraged her, it was Orleans' constant plotting and slander against her.

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Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:06 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
Christophe wrote:
I've just started into an English translation of The Princesse de Cleves, by Madame de Lafayette (1678), which has been called France's first romantic novel. Set at the court of Henri II, it explores the life and love of beautiful Mme. de Cleves.

I have this novel too--a Penguin paperback edition with a translation by Robin Busse.


Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:57 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
I agree with you Christophe. I have never heard of MA having anything against the English, quite the contrary, and it is known that she had english friends all through her life, including the wife of the British ambassador and of course Georgiana. A guide I had at Versailles once said that when she was asked why she liked English men so much she replied that they danced so well! :)

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Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:22 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
The Princesse de Cleves was a delight to read, a wonderful insight into the court of Henri II (as well as Louis XIV, whose court Madame de Lafayette was making subtle comment about).

Now I've turned to Dancing to the Precipice, by Caroline Moorehead; a biography on Lucie de la Tour du Pin. Already I have a problem with it. On pg. 45, Moorehead states: "This callousness came as no surprise to Lucie, who had learnt that the Queen, apparently so fond of Therese-Lucy (Lucie's mother, a lady-in-waiting to MA), had entirely forgotten her within days of her death, to the extent that she had planned to go to the Comedie-Francaise on the day of her funeral. A reproachful courtier had to remind her (the Queen) that her carriage would have crossed the cortege and the coffin."

This does not sound like MA. I was wondering if any of our resident experts here have heard of this incident or know anything about it? I'm becoming suspicious of Moorehead's credentials as a historian; I've already encountered several errors:

"It was here (Faubourg Saint-Germain).... that France's noble families lived. Abandoning the overcrowded and unhealthy Marais on the right bank of the Seine, they had crossed the river in the middle of the 17th century and settled in great stone mansions...." (pg. 5).

The Left Bank did not become a haven of the nobility until the middle of the 18th century, not the 17th, and the nobility had not "abandoned" the Marais, as many still lived there at the time of the Revolution.

"Clothes, like meals, were elaborate--Louis XVI was famously greedy--costly, and subject to ridgidly orchestrated rules and fashions." (pg 36).

This statement comes in the middle of a description of the court at Versailles. I don't know if the author is refering to his clothes or meals, or in general, but I've never heard of Louis being described as famously greedy!

"On July 1, Arthur (Lucie's father) was arrested and sent to the Luxembourg, one of some 50 different schools, convents, barracks and former hospitals that had been turned into prisons." (pg.170)


Well, as we all know, the Luxembourg is a palace, once the home of the Comte de Provence---never a school, convent, barracks or hospital!

Anyway, despite some sloppy statements the book is largely based on Lucie's memoirs and letters, and the writting is very engaging; it reads like a novel and I'm enjoying it. However, I'm very curious about the assertion on Marie Antoinette's indifference to her lady-in-waiting's death and hope somebody here will enlighten me on the matter.

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"One grows accustomed to one's enemy, and by making it familiar one loses the desire to get rid of it...." Marquise de la Tour du Pin, in a letter to her friend Mme. de Duras.


Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:58 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
Christophe wrote:
Now I've turned to Dancing to the Precipice, by Caroline Moorehead; a biography on Lucie de la Tour du Pin. Already I have a problem with it. On pg. 45, Moorehead states: "This callousness came as no surprise to Lucie, who had learnt that the Queen, apparently so fond of Therese-Lucy (Lucie's mother, a lady-in-waiting to MA), had entirely forgotten her within days of her death, to the extent that she had planned to go to the Comedie-Francaise on the day of her funeral. A reproachful courtier had to remind her (the Queen) that her carriage would have crossed the cortege and the coffin."


Yes, Christophe - I have also read this - in the Memoirs of Madame de La Tour du Pin.


Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:57 am
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
Page 62 - Memoirs of Madame de La Tour du Pin - translated by Felice Harcourt

"The sadness of life is quickly forgotten at Court. The Queen mourned my mother for twenty-four hours, and the very next day was expressing a wish to visit the Comedie Francaise. The Duchesse de Duras, who was in waiting that day, said to her; "It would perhaps be better for your Majesty to go to the Opera, otherwise, in passing before St. Sulpice, Your Majesty will meet the funeral procession of Mme Dillon".


Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:30 am
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
Thank you, Lilly. I must say I am surprised by this event. It does not fit with MA's personality. But then I also think I read somewhere that official protocol forbid the royal family to attend funerals; just as the ailing (with the exception of the King) were not permitted to die at Versailles, but had to be moved to another location.

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"One grows accustomed to one's enemy, and by making it familiar one loses the desire to get rid of it...." Marquise de la Tour du Pin, in a letter to her friend Mme. de Duras.


Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:46 am
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
You are right Chritophe, they didn't attend funerals, at least not those of their family.

Christophe wrote:

and the nobility had not "abandoned" the Marais, as many still lived there at the time of the Revolution.


Yes Rohan for example! :lol:

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Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:38 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
I just finished reading Vive la Revolution by Mark Steel, and I've started Guillotine by Robert Opie... I was a bit startled that there were pictures of guillotine victims in the book! I expected it to be morbid, of course, but that was a surprise.

I'm also reading The Salem Witch Trials: A Day by Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, but I'm only a few pages in.


Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:01 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
I'm curious to know what you thought of Mark Steel's Vive le Revolution?. I perused this book in the store and found in the first few pages at least a dozen errors, including mis-quotes of historical figures. It seems the author was putting his own words into their mouths, so to speak. It also struck me as a terribly biased work so I didn't buy it. I think Steel was more interested in presenting his opinions than telling history.

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"One grows accustomed to one's enemy, and by making it familiar one loses the desire to get rid of it...." Marquise de la Tour du Pin, in a letter to her friend Mme. de Duras.


Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:53 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
Christophe wrote:
I'm curious to know what you thought of Mark Steel's Vive le Revolution?. I perused this book in the store and found in the first few pages at least a dozen errors, including mis-quotes of historical figures. It seems the author was putting his own words into their mouths, so to speak. It also struck me as a terribly biased work so I didn't buy it. I think Steel was more interested in presenting his opinions than telling history.


Paraphrasing something I put on my blog for the book since I would just repeat it here - sorry for the length!

It is definitely sympathetic to the Revolution. Unfortunately, the author seemed to fall into the same traps of bias that he often complained about. To me, this is the biggest flaw of the book — you can’t go on about historical bias against the Revolution but then be so obviously biased on the very next page! There were many times where he challenged the popular view of pro Revolutionary figures, but he doesn’t do so for the “anti” Revolutionary figures. He says that to understand the actions of the Revolution, you need to understand the times and lives of the people - which he tries to do, but only for one side. He simply sticks the "anti" Revolutionary figures with the same negative labels that history and popular culture gives them, without providing a backdrop to explain their actions or thoughts as he did with the others. To note, this isn’t true throughout the entire book, but he did it enough that I had to rant about it. Also, there were a few facts that were wrong that even a Wikipedia or Google check would’ve solved. For one example, he states that Marie Antoinette’s sister was involved in the flight to Varennes. And then later on in the book, “Marie Antoinette’s sister” suddenly became Louis XVI’s niece. Simple things like that make you wonder what else was wrong, too...

The one saving grace of the book is that, unlike a lot of things I've read about the Revolution, it does try to make you see (most of) the people involved as human beings and not these far-away, inaccessible characters. And I did enjoy the emphasis on remembering what was going on around these people at the time of the Revolution. To paraphrase, it’s so easy for people living in 21st century comfort to say, “Oh my goodness! How awful! How could they kill so many or do this or that” — they’re not living in an 18th century world.

My only other gripe were the too-frequent allusions to (since this was published in 2003-2004 or so) the USA, Bush, and the Iraq War... I just wanted to say "Okay, we get it! You don't approve of the Iraq war and want the USA to remember that they aren't untouchable like the royalty in France did!" -- Oh, and I will admit I did get some laughs out of the book, so the "stand up history of the French Revolution" title wasn't totally false. :)


Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:33 am
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
I've been on a book kick lately! I joined a French Historical reading challenge so I'm extra motivated, it seems.

Currently reading:
-The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie Antoinette
-Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette Before the Revolution
-The Lost King of France (I forget the rest, it changed with the new reprint anyway...)

Just finished:
-The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions of Marie Antoinette
-The Royal Diaries: Marie Antoinette, Princess at Versailles
-Versailles: A Novel
-The Lacemaker and the Princess


Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:09 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading currently?
Im reading The Queen's Necklace by Frances Mossiker, am nearly finised with Madam de Pompadour by Nancy Mitsford which was very entertaining and has a lot of photos, and im planning to start Dancing to the Precipice: Lucie de la Tour du Pin and the French Revolutionby Caroline Moorehead soon.

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Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:11 pm
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