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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First French Novel
The first French novel speaks of intrigue, marital and carnal love, innocence, good and evil, human strengths and weaknesses, life and death. In short, Madame de Lafayette, the author of the first French novel, touched upon many of the psychological states and human emotions that the novel, as a literary genre, would ceaselessly continue to describe for over 300 years...
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Charming 17th century French love story
Said to be the earliest French novel, this is a charming story of a virtuous married woman - the Princess de Cleves - at the 17th century French court of Henry II. She is wooed by the Prince de Nemours, the most charming man at court and remains faithful in body to her husband whilst falling in love with Nemours. Desperate to get away from temptation she confesses to her...
Published on 24 Nov. 2008 by Brownbear101


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First French Novel, 13 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Princesse De Cleves (Classics) (Paperback)
The first French novel speaks of intrigue, marital and carnal love, innocence, good and evil, human strengths and weaknesses, life and death. In short, Madame de Lafayette, the author of the first French novel, touched upon many of the psychological states and human emotions that the novel, as a literary genre, would ceaselessly continue to describe for over 300 years. The Robin Buss translation in Penguin Classics is one of the best I've read. For those who can't read La Princess de Cleves in the original ,this translation is as good as it gets.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love and intrique at the court of Henri II, 12 May 2010
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This review is from: The Princesse De Cleves (Classics) (Paperback)
Mme de Lafayette wrote this during the reign of Louis XIV but the novel is set in the court of Henri II when his queen is Catherine de Medici, the young Mary Queen of Scots is his daughter-in-law and Diana de Poitiers was his mistress. As a courtier herself, Mme de Lafayette knew intimately the intriques and gossip that went on at court and she conveys that magnificently.

The young and very beautiful Madame de Cleves comes to court, is married rapidly to a man whom she admires and respects but cannot love, and falls in love herself with the Duke de Nemours, who feels the same for her. But tied by her sense of morality and the stories she has been told by her mother and others about the insincerity of court love, she restrains her passions and turns away from love.

This is a vivid, and exquisitely written novel that turns on the small emotions of love, duty and passion lived out in a public court where everyone is watching everyone else, and no-one's secrets remain hidden. Excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Most acute insights into the psychology of love, 29 Oct. 2014
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A timeless tale of love, jealousy, torn loyalties, duty and intrigue, 'The Princess of Cleves' is as acute in its psychological insights as any 20th- or 21st-century novel. A masterpiece of French literature, it incurred the wrath of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who once complained that reading the novel had made him "suffer". Le pauvre!
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Charming 17th century French love story, 24 Nov. 2008
This review is from: The Princesse De Cleves (Classics) (Paperback)
Said to be the earliest French novel, this is a charming story of a virtuous married woman - the Princess de Cleves - at the 17th century French court of Henry II. She is wooed by the Prince de Nemours, the most charming man at court and remains faithful in body to her husband whilst falling in love with Nemours. Desperate to get away from temptation she confesses to her husband so that he will permit her to retire to the country but he erupts with fierce jealousy that ultimately leads to the ruin of their marriage and his death. Although theoretically free now to marry Nemours, the Princess retires instead to a nunnery to live out her life.

This is a terrific restrained love story and Lafayette brilliantly plays the power of the lovers' emotions against their understanding of the conventions of society and their place in it. The second half of the book is very tender and draws the reader into the unfolding tragedy. However, the first part, setting up the scene, is very densely written and assumes a knowledge of the court, its characters and manners that a modern reader struggles with. I had to re-read much of this material in order to follow who was who and how it all fitted together. Some of this is simply background of the nature of gossip and does not directly relate to the matter at hand, although it does provide wonderful colour. I found the book a slow read even though it is a very short and I often had to put it down to take stock.

Overall, it is more of historical interest than ideal for a modern reader, what it really deserves is a contemporary retelling because the story at the heart of the book is genuinely human.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Translation?, 18 Sept. 2012
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This edition has been well prepared for kindle devices, but the translation is so out-dated that it hinders understanding. Only a few pages in "He had three sons very accomplished;" ?? "il avait trois fils parfaitement bien faits".
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The Princesse De Cleves (Classics)
The Princesse De Cleves (Classics) by Madame Lafayette (Paperback - 30 April 1992)
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