Originally published in 1925. this is an edition of the highly regarded seventeenth-century novel by Madame de La Fayette, La Princesse de Cleves. The complete text of the 1678 first edition is presented here in the original French, with accompanying English annotations by Harry Ashton. In addition to the notes, Ashton provides an English introduction to the book, discussing aspects of the author's life and works and examining the sources, characters, style and influence of the novel. Thanks to the economy of the vocabulary and the usefulness of the notes, this volume will be particularly welcome by students of French as well as anyone eager to read a popular classic of seventeenth-century French literature.
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The Princess de Cleves, the first great short novel in the French language, was published anonymously in 1678, although 'advance publicity' has made it clear that the author was Madame de Lafayette (with the probable assistance of La Rochefoucauld and others). The book caused a sensation then, and is now considered one of the French classics. Although this is a historical novel, set in the last splendid days of Henri II of France, it does in fact reflect the manners and morals of the court of Louix XIV: and in this artificial setting of gossip, deceit and intrigue (ably fostered by the teenage Mary, Queen of Scots), the tortures passions of the gallant Duc de Nemours and the radiant wife of the Prince de Cleves shine out with a pure brilliance.
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