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Louis XIV to French Revolution - suggestions?

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Catherine Delors
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Postby Catherine Delors » Sun February 14th, 2010, 6:24 pm

Yes, I did read Zweig's bio of Fouche for the research on For the King. But frankly, as much as I personally dislike Fouche, the degree of venom in there made me uneasy. For instance at the end Zweig was obviously rubbing his hands with glee at the infidelity of Fouche's second wife (not proven by any stretch). Zweig is carried away by his prejudices, as he was in his Marie-Antoinette.

I will look for more objective English language bios of Fouche. In French I read the recent one by Tulard, uninspired and uninspiring but more objective than Zweig. There are a lot of excellent older ones, also in French.

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Miss Moppet
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Postby Miss Moppet » Sun February 14th, 2010, 7:42 pm

"annis" wrote:
I seem to remember that "To Dance With Kings" covers several generations during the period Miss M is interested in, but it's many years since I've read any of Laker's books. I've seen mention of an author called Joan Sanders who apparently wrote some HF back in the '60s and '70s, but can't see much around. There is a listing on eBay for one called "The Marquis" (1963) --'France, Louis XIV' is all the detail it provides.

Edit: A bit more about the Joan Sanders books from The Amazon forum where I spotted them
--"Baneful Sorceries" (about the Affaire des Poisons), "La Petite" (Louise de la Valliere) and "The Marquis" (about Madame de Montespan's husband).


I have read To Dance With Kings, just forgot about it. It covers a very long time period - from about 1660 to 1789 - and although RL had clearly done a lot of research, there were numerous little things which just weren't right and irritated me. That is the drawback of reading fiction set in a period you know a lot about! Other than that I would have enjoyed it so I don't want to put anyone else off reading it.

Hadn't heard of the Joan Sanders titles, thank you. :)

ETA: The last time I met Fouche in fiction was in Juliette Benzoni's Marianne series. He played some sort of nefarious role in the heroine's troubles, can't remember exactly what!

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Catherine Delors
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Postby Catherine Delors » Sun February 14th, 2010, 7:48 pm

Ah, Miss Moppet, Fouche is such a reliable villain that he can always be trusted to play a nefarious role in ANY historical novel. ;) I have read several Benzonis, just not these ones.

As we say in French "on ne prete qu'aux riches", one only lends money to the rich...

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Miss Moppet
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Postby Miss Moppet » Sun February 14th, 2010, 8:34 pm

"Catherine Delors" wrote:Zweig is carried away by his prejudices, as he was in his Marie-Antoinette.


Zweig was one of the first MA biographies I read, not understanding at the time (I was about 13) how strongly influenced he was by Freudian theory and how much (in the 1930s) this was a new way of looking at historical figures. I thought Simone Bertiere has some interesting commentary on his biography in Marie Antoinette l'insoumise - she pinpoints his weaknesses but does give him credit for taking MA studies in a new direction.

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Catherine Delors
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Postby Catherine Delors » Sun February 14th, 2010, 9:26 pm

Oh, I still consider Zweig worthwhile (more his Marie-Antoinette than his Fouche) but he must be read in light of the more recent bios. Bertiere is my favorite. I like her common sense, she shows a lot of empathy without sentimentalizing her subject. Have you read her other bios of the Queens of France? All very good.

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Miss Moppet
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Postby Miss Moppet » Mon February 15th, 2010, 5:06 pm

"Catherine Delors" wrote:Oh, I still consider Zweig worthwhile (more his Marie-Antoinette than his Fouche) but he must be read in light of the more recent bios. Bertiere is my favorite. I like her common sense, she shows a lot of empathy without sentimentalizing her subject. Have you read her other bios of the Queens of France? All very good.


I've read all of them except the second one. I agree, they are superb and a major contribution to the field of queenship. I wish English translations were available so I could recommend them more often!

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Catherine Delors
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Postby Catherine Delors » Mon February 15th, 2010, 5:30 pm

Very true! I can't understand why at least Bertiere's Marie-Antoinette hasn't been translated. It was a best-seller in France.

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Miss Moppet
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Postby Miss Moppet » Mon February 15th, 2010, 10:01 pm

"Catherine Delors" wrote:Very true! I can't understand why at least Bertiere's Marie-Antoinette hasn't been translated. It was a best-seller in France.


I wonder if it would have been translated if it hadn't come out around the same time as Antonia Fraser's MA biography? I like the AF bio, but it doesn't have the insights the Bertiere does and it does annoy me to see MA: The Journey translated into French and MA l'insoumise not translated into English!

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Catherine Delors
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Postby Catherine Delors » Mon February 15th, 2010, 10:21 pm

Me too! I gather you read French fluently?

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Miss Moppet
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Postby Miss Moppet » Mon February 15th, 2010, 11:06 pm

"Catherine Delors" wrote:Me too! I gather you read French fluently?


Yes, I have to for work as my specialism is 17th and 18th century France so I couldn't really get by without French. I got interested in French history while I was still at school and fortunately, my school specialised in languages (often not that well taught in the UK). But it took a lot of extra reading above and beyond what the course required to really read fluently. One of the first French history books I read was Jean Chalon's Chere Marie Antoinette - I had to plough through with a dictionary looking up almost every other word, but it was worth it as I found it much easier after that and it opened up many sources for me which I couldn't otherwise have read.

I try to read a certain number of novels in French every year, either classics or contemporary fiction. This year I'm teaching a summer school on French 18th century decorative arts so I want to focus on 18th century novels. I was at the library today and brought home Les liaisons dangereuses, La Nouvelle Heloise and Les egarements du coeur et de l'esprit. Liaisons is a re-read but the other two have been on my TBR list for years.


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