Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Madame de Graffigny

'You will jump with joy at the date of this letter, and you will say, 'Ah! mon Dieu! she is finally at Cirey.'
- letter Mme de Graffigny to a young friend, on her arrival at Cirey, December 1738

Madame de Graffigny was a middle-aged woman who lived at Luneville, the provincial court of Stanislas, the last Duke of Lorraine. She was a real-life Madame Bovary who long dreamed of a more elegant way of life, divorced her husband and, penniless, managed to get herself invited to Cirey where she joined Voltaire and Emile du Chatelet.

She is remembered for her letters recounting her stay collected in Besterman's edition of Voltaire's correspondence and paraphrases in Frank Hamel's, An Eighteenth-Century Marquise: A Study of Emilie du Ch√Ętelet and Her Times (London, 1910).

Read David Bodanis's review.

Read The Life of Voltaire by Stephen G. Tallentyre.

Madame de Graffigny wrote Letters from a Peruvian Woman, a satirical description of the conditions of French women seen through the eyes of an outsider Zilia, an Incan princess - captured, rescued, and then educated in French culture, who talks about language, literature, philosophy, education, and child rearing.

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