- Paperback: 536 pages
- Publisher: Prion Books Ltd; New edition edition (7 Feb. 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1853753548
- ISBN-13: 978-1853753541
- Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 13.3 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 482,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Memoirs of the Duc De Saint-Simon: 1715-23 v. 3 (Prion lost treasures) Paperback – 7 Feb 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
He was very proud of his status and quite pompous. His life was was and long and high as was his position, he did not achieve many noteworthy things. Louis XIV did not like and so only after the Sun King's death in 1715 he became a memember of the Regency Council and later ambassador to Spain. But he did not carry much political weight. Witht the death of the Regent he retired from Court life. Only in 1739 he srated to write his Memoirs. These cover the period from 1691 bis 1723 and were finished only in 1750.They were fully published only in 1829/30.
He wrote from an early age, collected an huge amout of gossip and information which all formed the basis for his memoirs. He showed a great skill for narrative and for character-drawing. His French was superb and inventive. Of course that is lost now as it has became part of the French langauge. In the English version this is totally lost. His Memoirs are far from being fair or an objective account. He quite clearly shoed his preferences and views. His special hate was however reserved for the
"the bastards," the illegitimate children of Louis XIV. It does not appear that this hatred was founded on moral reasons or fear that these bastards would be intruded into the succession. The true cause of his wrath was that they had ceremonial precedence over the peers that is so say over himself.He was gratified by the degradation of "the bastards who lost their royal status.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
There would be few who could not be moved by Saint-Simon's rapturous delight at the defeat of his enemies, where his writing is at its unequalled best. However, by far the greatest strength of these Memoirs is the authors humbleness. Time and again he apologies to his reader for lengthy diversions, and for his inability to handle the material well, yet it cannot be denied that he is the greatest memoir writer to have lived, in all senses of the word. His conclusion, admiting that he can be repetitive and long winded is a tour de force, and we are allowed a knowing smile when we recollect that his pride has so often shone through elsewhere - there is nothing more pleasant to read than the work of a HUMAN author, with all the quirks and failings of our own. The translator's (Lucy Norton) footnotes are extremely helpful without being cumbersome. While the length of the three volumes will alienate many a potential reader, they are well worth any time invested in their perusal.
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