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La Princesse De Clèves par Mme de La Fayette Edited with Introduction and Notes   By: (1634-1693)

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LA PRINCESSE DE CLÈVES

PAR

Mme de La FAYETTE

EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES

BY

BENJAMIN F. SLEDD, M.A., LITT. D. AND J. HENDREN GORRELL, M.A., PH. D. PROFESSORS IN WAKE FOREST COLLEGE

INTERNATIONAL MODERN LANGUAGE SERIES

GINN AND COMPANY

BOSTON · NEW YORK · CHICAGO · LONDON ATLANTA · DALLAS · COLUMBUS · SAN FRANCISCO

COPYRIGHT, 1896, BY B.F. SLEDD AND H. GORRELL

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

330.1

The Athenæum Press

GINN AND COMPANY · PROPRIETORS · BOSTON · U.S.A.

INTRODUCTION.

Mme. de la Fayette, whose maiden name was Marie Magdeleine Pioche de La Vergne, was born at Paris in 1634. Her father belonged to the lesser nobility, and was for awhile governor of Pontoise, and later of Havre. Her mother was sprung from an ancient family of Provence, among whom, says Auger, literary talent had long been a heritage; but the mother herself if we are to believe Mme. de La Fayette's biographers possessed no talent save that of intrigue. This opinion of Mme. de La Vergne, however, rests mainly upon the testimony of Cardinal de Retz; and may it not be that Mme. de La Fayette has drawn for us the portrait of her mother in the person of Mme. de Chartres? If this be true, Mme. de La Vergne, vain and intriguing though she may have been, was not wholly unworthy of her daughter.

The early education of Mme. de La Fayette for by this name we can best speak of her was made the special care of her father, "un père en qui le mérite égaloit la tendresse." Later, she was put under Ménage, and possibly Rapin. Segrais, with his usual garrulousness, tells the following story:

"Trois mois après que Mme. de La Fayette eut commencé d'apprendre le latin, elle en savoit déjà plus que M. Ménage et que le Père Rapin, ses maîtres. En la faisant expliquer, ils eurent dispute ensemble touchant l'explication d'un passage, et ni l'un ni l'autre ne vouloit se rendre au sentiment de son compagnon; Mme. de La Fayette leur dit: Vous n'y entendez rien ni l'un ni l'autre. En effet, elle leur dit la véritable explication de ce passage; ils tombèrent d'accord qu'elle avoit raison." And Segrais goes on to say: "C'étoit un poëte qu'elle expliquoit, car elle n'aimoit pas la prose, et elle n'a pas lu Cicéron; mais comme elle se plaisoit fort à la poésie, elle lisoit particulièrement Virgile et Horace; et comme elle avoit l'esprit poétique et qu'elle savoit tout ce qui convenoit à cet art, elle pénétroit sans peine le sens de ces auteurs." Learned for a woman of her times Mme. de La Fayette indeed was; but of this learning she made no show, "pour ne pas choquer les autres femmes," says Sainte Beuve.

At the age of fifteen, Mme. de La Fayette lost her father; and her mother, after brief waiting, and if Cardinal de Retz is to be believed much intriguing, found a second husband in the Chevalier Renaud de Sévigné. This union was an important event in the life of Mme. de La Fayette, for it marks the beginning of her residence at Paris, and of her friendship with Mme. de Sévigné, who was a kinswoman of the Chevalier.

How close and lasting was this friendship is seen on almost every page of Mme. de Sévigné's correspondence. Indeed, so often does the name of Mme. de La Fayette occur in Mme. de Sévigné's letters to her daughter, that the latter may well have been jealous of her mother's friend. The companionship of Mme. de Sévigné was, after the death of La Rochefoucauld, the chief comfort of Mme. de La Fayette in her ill health and seclusion; and it was from the sick chamber of her friend that Mme. de Sévigné's letters would seem to have been written in those latter years. In 1693, soon after the death of Mme. de La Fayette, Mme. de Sévigné writes as follows of her dead friend: "Je me trouvois trop heureuse d'être aimée d'elle depuis un temps très considérable; jamais nous n'avions eu le moindre nuage dans notre amitié... Continue reading book >>




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