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Memoirs of the Duc De Saint-Simon: 1710-15 v. 2 (Prion lost treasures) [Paperback]

Duc De Saint-Simon , Lucy Norton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

2 Dec 1999 Prion lost treasures
The court of Louis XIV (the Sun King) at Versailles was unequalled for splendour in Europe's history, a hotbed of intrigue, jealousy, passion and political skullduggery, as well as artistic and literary excellence. The Duc de Saint-Simon was a man of political skill and influence at the heart of the royal court of over thirty years and a writer who captured its atmosphere at the height of French power and pretige. The second volume covers the wars with the coalition led by the Duke of Marlborough, the death of the Dauphin and of two of the King's grandsons, and, at the end, the death of King Louis XIV himself.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 566 pages
  • Publisher: Prion Books Ltd; New edition edition (2 Dec 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185375353X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853753534
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.6 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 293,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Louis de Rouvroy, Duc de Saint-Simon (not - as he would immediately have pointed out - your average, two-a-penny Duc, but a Duc et Pair de France) was practically a midget, had a hump and was a ferocious snob. This did not in any way make him unacceptable at the Court of the Sun King, though it gave plentiful opportunities to his many enemies to poke malicious fun at him.
However, he got his own back in his renowned Memoires - written up in 1740-46 from notes he had kept at the time. Almost no-one of any importance escaped his sharp tongue and barbed assessments. In fact many of the characters he describes would be just dry names on tombs but for his work.
From the King himself (who completely pervades the first two volumes of Lucy Norton's excellent translation) to the Duchess who could never contain her bowels at long card games, and left a trail across the floors of Versailles like a snail, Saint-Simon breathes squirming, intense life into the stiff portraits of periwigged worthies and tight-bodiced noblewomen.
Ironically, he is often at his funniest when describing pompous snobs (the Bishop who has two huge family trees painted on his walls showing his descent from both the Roman and Byzantine Emperors, the infamous bore who was appointed to the Academie Royale solely so that the King and the entire court could laugh at his fantastically vain acceptance speech).
But he is also capable of providing images that fix themselves indelibly in the mind, such as the aged Archbishop, exiled from court to his country estate, walking in his gardens with his mistress - whilst behind them his servants sweep away the traces of their footsteps.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful biographic detail of French court life 26 Aug 2001
By A Customer - Published on
I loved these memoirs by a Duke who lived at the French Court during the later part of the reign of Louis XIV and during the regency of Duc d'Oreleans (Louis XV's minority). This second volume deals with the very last years of Louis XV and ends with his death (and the great fight over who would be Regent, since Louis XV was very young). There is a lot of detail about court life and it is very much biographic, details about people. Lucy Norton has done a wonderful job editing leaving out the long boring parts on war, treaties and politics and has left in all of the information on people during that age. I really enjoyed these memoirs.
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