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Apology for the Woman Writing
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Apology for the Woman Writing

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  51 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Marie de Gournay was eighteen when she read, and was overwhelmed by, the essays of the French philosopher Montaigne. She had to be revived with hellebore. When she finally met Montaigne, she stabbed herself with a hairpin until the blood ran in order to show her devotion. He made her his adopted daughter for the two months they knew each other. He died four years later, af...more
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published by Virago Press (UK) (first published 2008)
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This is one of those historical novels that makes you want to research the main characters' lives to see how realistically the author has rendered them. Dinski is certainly unsparing of Marie le Jars de Gournay. Such much so, that I wondered if de Gournay was really that arrogant/unstable or if her writing was really that bad. I will definitely have to read her feminist works, which are supposed to be her best. I also wondered if the author exaggerated the amount of ridicule de Gournay received...more
I was attracted to this on the strength of the author’s non-fiction writing in the LRB and elsewhere, and on the basis that it’s sort of about Montaigne, who is another writer I also enjoy. I say ‘sort of’ because it’s actually a fictional portrait of Marie de Gournay, who became famous in her day as the editor of and commentator on the works of that great writer. On first reading his essays she became hysterical, and when she finally met Montaigne she proved her dedication by repeatedly stabbin...more
Here was a historical novel with the difference. The story is about the French noblewoman who instead of following the traditional life became obsessed with reading, self-educated herself in Latin and Greek and got involved with the famous French philosopher Montaigne, who adopted her as a spiritual child and let her edit his essays after his death. As I understood Marie de Gourney was a real person who lived in the 17th century in France and dedicated her life to writing. It was an interesting...more
This is a historical novel based on the life of Marie de Gournay, a 16th century writer and the editor (and protector of) Michel de Montaigne's Essays. She's a strange woman and this is something of a strange novel. Diski is a fine writer, and there were many passages I loved, in particular Marie's intoxication with books, and with the work of Montaigne in particular. Overall, however, the novel failed to engage me.
A charming book. Interesting if you like Michele Montaigne. Handles the nuansces of relationships very well.
I admire her for being able to write an interesting historical novel about less-than-admirable people.
Ruth Pellegrini
Funny, sad and cringingly embarrassing in places! Really enjoyed this one.
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Jenny Diski is a British writer.
She has published eight novels, two essay collections essays and three travel memoirs. She was awarded the 2003 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award for Stranger on a Train: Daydreaming and Smoking around America With Interruptions.

More about Jenny Diski...
Stranger on a Train Skating To Antarctica Nothing Natural On Trying To Keep Still The Sixties

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