Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Lafayette, Madame de "The Princess of Cleves"

Lafayette, Madame de (Marie-Madeleine) "The Princess of Cleves" (French: La Princesse de Clèves) - 1678

This is another classic novel from Jane Smiley's book "13 Ways of Looking at the Novel". I couldn't find this in French, so had to get it in English from the library. But it was quite interesting nevertheless. I think Madame de Lafayette had a good knowledge of life at the French court at the time, in the sixteenth century, and therefore the story about the Princess of Cleves seems very realistic.

If you like classic novels and want to learn more than just about nineteenth century England, this will be one for you.

From the back cover:

 "One of the great glories of French literature is this colorful and poignant love story, often described as the first of all 'modern' novels. First published in 1678 and written by Marie Madeleine Roche de la Vergne, Countess de Lafayette, a Parisian lady of wit and fashion, who probably received help with it from her friend the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, author of the famous 'Maxims', it recreates with matchless vitality the lives and loves of the courtiers of King Henry II who reigned in the middle of the Sixteenth Century. 'The Princess of Cleves' is like an exquisite French tapestry whose brilliant colors and romantic figures have lost nothing of their first freshness. For the consuming passion of the young Duc de Nemours for the beautiful wife of his friend the Prince of Cleves will always be one of the classic love stories of all literature."


  1. I don't know this one at all. I have just started Some Luck by Jane Smiley and I like it very much.

  2. I had never heard of this one, either, but so far I liked the books I read that were suggested in 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel.
    As to the century trilogy, I did prefer Some Luck to Early Warning but I still want to read the third one.

    Have a good day,

  3. I found this book very interesting for its look at the French court from a woman/mother's viewpoint. I read it because Edith Wharton, in her book about writing (The Writing of Fiction) said it marked the beginning of modern fiction, being the first novel to deal with the inner feelings and thoughts of the characters. But I also have read books from that huge list in the back of 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel. Glad to know I am not the only one who nerds out like that!

    1. Nope, not at all. And I am just as happy as you are. ♥

      I love your remarks about the mother viewpoint. Yes, it does not just focus on the Princess of Cleves but also on the others.

      And Edith Wharton's book "The Writing of Fiction" is on my wishlist now, as well. I did not know that she was the first female winner of the Pulitzer Prize. I have only recently started to concentrate on that one, as well, after trying to read at least one book by the new Nobel Prize winner every year plus one by a former one. Well, there you you, I've outed myself as the supernerd. ;)

      So lovely getting to know you. Looking forward to many more chats.

      Happy reading,