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 biographies of marie antoinette 

Which biography do you prefer?
Antonia Fraser 38%  38%  [ 11 ]
Stefan Zweig 14%  14%  [ 4 ]
Carolly Erickson 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Lever Evelyne 10%  10%  [ 3 ]
Haslip Joan 3%  3%  [ 1 ]
André Castelot 3%  3%  [ 1 ]
others 31%  31%  [ 9 ]
Total votes : 29

 biographies of marie antoinette 
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Didn't though Antonia Fraser say Marie was bisexual?

I remember in her book that she had a picture drawn saying that Marie told Polignac, "I live only for you..A kiss my angel." And afterwards stating that many people accused her of bisexuality and engaging in certain sexual activities. I could be wrong but I did read that somewhere in her book I believe.


Fri Jun 02, 2006 7:54 pm
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Antonia Fraser is a good writer but I don't agree with many of the conclusions she comes to about the queen, as I have said before on this thread.

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Fri Jun 02, 2006 8:00 pm
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This picture is an engraving dating from Marie-Antoinette's time. It's a caricature of aristocratical habits, most of all, symbolized by queen Marie-Antoinette. White wigs, court supposed debauche, sweet vocabulary : "I only live for you, my angel... a kiss!".

Actually, it's a rather nice picture, a soft one, would I say. Others are more explicite and less delicate !

Marie-Antoinette was very close to her girlfriends. They were her "inseparables", and they were very demonstrative. These were passionate friendships. So, a good biographer must wonder about the nature of this feeling.

Lady Fraser asks this question very seriously, and answers, that, in her opinion, these "crushs" were romantic but not carnal. "Why should a friendship between two women absolutely implicate this ?", the writer asks.

Later, in her conclusion, she analyses how Marie-Antoinette anyway became a gay and lesbian icone. That is very interesting ! This means that she was so passionate that everybody can recongnize him/herself in her. I would say that she first of all is an helpful icone !

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Fri Jun 02, 2006 8:18 pm
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Thank you for clarifying things, Pimprenelle. I think that when a young girl is separated from her mother, her older sisters and the governess who raised her, at age 14, it is to be expected that she would form very passionate attachments to women friends, especially when she has a highly emotional nature to begin with. That is what I always thought about it anyway. And in the jaded world of the French court, of course they would give it another interpretation.

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Fri Jun 02, 2006 8:27 pm
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Oh, thanks, Therese... but it's Antonia Fraser who puts it this way ! :wink:

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Fri Jun 02, 2006 8:30 pm
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Therese, Pimprenelle that makes absolute sense! Thank you.


Sat Jun 03, 2006 6:40 pm
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Has anyone read Marie Antoinette, Une reine brisée by Annie Duprat?
I am into it right now. It is exactly not a biography, but long essays concerning the public image of La Reine and how it changed through the years. Very interesting to read. It came also to my mind that if you look at the portraits carefully, you can see these changes by concerning on positions, colours used, clothing etc. First it is light colours, jewels, pearls, plumes, an energy in posing then more and more sitting in a chair, a melancholic smile, wearing hats, darker, simpler colours and costumes and backrounds. Everything is painted in these portraits, her glory and tragic end.


Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:02 pm
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Thank you, Aurora! It never occurred to me before, but what you say is true! What a fascinating book!!

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Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:07 pm
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I have read this book, Aurora, and appreciated it too. Especially because Annie Duprat potrays Marie-Antoinette an intelligent and sensible woman, who really understood how complicate the revolution was, spread out into rival factions. She also writes that Antoinette was the first one to foresee the power of upcoming public opinion.

Finally someone who read the queen's correspondence, where it is so obvious how smart she was !

However, with regards to Duprat's analysis of mythical Antoinette, I prefered Chantal Thomas' "Wicked Queen". This one is a true poet, able to find such powerful images !

Furthermore, as Duprat's book goes deep into a pictural analysis, I more than once regretted that there were no illustrations.

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Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:18 pm
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The lack of pictures can be simply a matter of expenses, Pimprenelle, but I agree, it is true, you want to see them simultaneously with the text.
Perhaps this is mentioned in another thread, but what do you think about the Correspondance 1770-1793 with comments by Evelyne Lever? I just got it and looking forward to reading.
(P.S. What is the thing that so many letters of interesting people were burned in the 19th century? I am not talking only concerning Fersen-Marie Antoinette story etc, but I just researched one more nordic contemporary in Paris, Gustaf Armfelt, and found that the most of his correspondance was also burned afterwards, and so many others.I mean, we deserve the truth, nothing else!)


Fri Jul 14, 2006 7:17 am
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For those interested in Marie-Antoinette, her correspondence edited by Evelyne Lever is useful tool, of course ! One must however remember that, if huge, this book is not exhaustive, not complete. There are other letters written by Marie-Antoinette ! And further messages between Mercy and Marie-Therese. You can find some of these on Gallica site (French national library).

http://gallica.bnf.fr/Catalogue/notices ... 883844.htm
For Antoinette. Unfortunately, as mentioned, some of these letters are apocryphe, so, not by Antoinette... it's quite a job to determine which are true and which are false... :? - Other letters are to be found spread out in her different biographies, alas... quite a job too ! :?

http://gallica.bnf.fr/scripts/catalog.p ... ujet=&RPT=
For Mercy and Marie-Therese. These ones are all true, fortunately ! :D

Furthermore, madame Lever's edition is influenced by her believing in the Fersen affair. That's why some messages supposed by the queen are published without comments, as if they were not controversial.

So, to make it brief, this new "correspondence" is a useful tool, but, as usual, to be taken carefully and not with our eyes closed !

I am amazed by your remark about Gustav Armfelt, Aurora... and wondering, too... Wasn't this man Fersen's friend ? Wasn't he one of king Gustav's purpoted lovers ? If he is, this may be some kind of explanation, XIXth century being not open to these kinds of loves ! :?

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Fri Jul 14, 2006 9:25 am
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Thank you, Pimprenelle. These comments about Correspondance and the other links are very useful.
About Armfelt. Yes, he was a finnish soldier originally from lower noble, who had a upgoing career in Gustaf III's court and was for example with the king in his European tours in France and Italy. But Armfelt had also many mistresses during his whole life (as well as a wife) and many children with various women, for example one son with an actress parisenne, which he later took with him to Sweden etc. Yes, there were constant rumours about the handsome men at the court of Gustaf III, but unless there is some real evidence I am not willing to believe that Armfelt himself was king's lover. This doesn't mean that the king couldn't have been attracted to him as he too as Fersen was good-looking, writing plays for theatre and so. But no matter what a historical figure have done, it is wrong that the others destroy and sometimes forge their life-story and letters for example, after they are dead and cannot defend themselves.


Fri Jul 14, 2006 11:31 am
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Of course, Aurora, I agree with you ! We are not there for judging historical characters' deeds, facts, lives and loves ! Just for trying to search and understand... And we have no right to destroy testimonies of their pasts ! It's a crime !

But that's what we think nowadays. Victorian ages had another sense of respect ! :?

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Fri Jul 14, 2006 11:53 am
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Yes, dear Pimprenelle! That is sad but true and I hope this Victorian attitude towards the historical reasearch has gone to the garbage..
I must say that I have admired your great common sense Pimprenelle and seeking of the truth behind the screens in this forum, thank you for all comments. They are always fascinating and enjoyable to read, as well giving the truthful, intelligent information and challenging the others to do the same.


Fri Jul 14, 2006 12:16 pm
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Thank you, Aurora ! That is so sweet, and encouraging ! I can send you the compliment back, truely ! I just adore the way you write about your passion for arts and especially music. You really taught me a lot of wonderful things I did not know ! And I thank you for that too... It's getting me closer to our dear Marie-Antoinette who loved harp so much... an important point you have in common with her, dear Aurora, and that you make us share with you !

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Fri Jul 14, 2006 12:49 pm
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