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Memoirs of the Duc De Saint-Simon: 1691-1709 v.1: 1691-1709 Vol 1 (Lost Treasures) Paperback – 15 Sep 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 566 pages
  • Publisher: Prion Books Ltd; New edition edition (15 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853753521
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853753527
  • Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 13.6 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 728,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amelrode VINE VOICE on 5 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon (1675 - 1755), French soldier, diplomatate and politican. At the age of 18 he followed his father as the 2nd Duke of Saint-Simon and Pair de France. He was raised with the "enfants de France, the cildren of the royal family, and developed a great freindship with the future Duke of Orleans and Regent of France.
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. McGuire on 12 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, and its two companion volumes, should come with a health warning; it is utterly addictive.

Saint-Simon was undoubtedly a terrible snob, concerned for his own position, jealous of upstarts, critical of the royal family and especially the illegitimate part, and concerned that everything was getting irretrievably worse.

But he was also a brilliant observer, able to skewer someone's character in a few choice phrases when he thinks it necessary, but also genuinely warm to those who deserve it. He is actually a deeply moral and humane man, and that is one of the qualities which makes his memoirs compelling: he isn't out just to put everyone down; rather he cares about what is happening around him. And he makes us care too.

My reaction to him is similar to that to Pepys: his human frailties, foibles and fables on the one hand and his concern to serve his country on the other make a mixture which is irresistable, partly because, although it's in a very different time and culture, what he has to say is familiar to anyone who has ever thought about life, or become aware of its ambiguities. He holds up a mirror, and we can see ourselves, and people who are as familiar as our familes, friends and neighbours.

Forget the soap-operas: this is much more dramatic; and it has the advantage of being real.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By St. Mym VINE VOICE on 21 May 2002
Format: Paperback
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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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By paul.murphy@geharris.co.uk on 12 May 2000
Format: Paperback
If you ever wanted an insight into life at the backbiting, toadying, nasty, house of fun otherwise known as the Palace of Versailles then buy this book!
Saint Simon, with his disapproval and snobbery, hated life at Versailles. That didn't stop him from giving us the best description of the court of the Sun King ever written. Thoroughly recommended!
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