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The Princesse de Clèves

3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  6,245 Ratings  ·  285 Reviews
This new translation of The Princesse de Clèves also includes two shorter works also attributed to Mme de Lafayette, The Princesse de Montpensier and The Comtesse de Tende.
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 288 pages
Published November 11th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published March 1678)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Debbie Zapata
Apr 09, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The idea here was to read this and another short book by the same author for a Literary Birthday Challenge. This book sounded so interesting: the court of Henry The Second of France, with all the intrigue and goings-on that nobility do so well. Enter our young heroine, Mademoiselle de Chartres, whose mother wants to arrange a proper match for her.

Okay so far, but it took paragraphs and paragraphs of names and titles to get to this point. I thought about quitting after needing to go over this sen
...more
Jesse
Sep 19, 2009 Jesse rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half is rough going--every sentence seems to namedrop at least two members of the French aristocracy, and it is impossible to keep track of who is being mentioned for the first time, and who has already been referred to six lines back. But there comes a point where the narrative suddenly clears and it becomes obvious how this rather tortured excursion through the labyrinthine French royal court not only serves to set the stage, but emphasizes the countless dangers and social traps the ...more
Madeline
Mar 20, 2010 Madeline rated it really liked it
I read this book in French, and as a result of this missed a lot of the smaller details of this book because despite taking French for seven years now I still can't really read it. But I got the main idea, and what I understood I really liked. The book's actually pretty exciting - there's lots of court intrigue, tournaments, plot digressions involving the misplacement of a Very Important Letter (on that note, isn't it amazing how many older books like this have plot points that revolve around Ve ...more
Julie
Jan 15, 2016 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un véritable coup de coeur. La description du sentiment amoureux, les descriptions des personnes, les intrigues de la cour de France, j'ai adoré ! L'abnégation de la la princesse, la constance de son mari, et l'amour du duc forcent le respect :)
Anastasia
Mar 26, 2016 Anastasia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madame de la Fayette è perfida, perfida!

Vi siete letti (volevo dire "lette", ma poi ho pensato all'eventualità di maschietti appassionati ai romanzi rosa, non si sa mai) tutti i romanzi della Austen e delle Bronte, e non sapete più dove andare a pescare cibo per la vostra fame di classici rosa? Non cercate tanto una lettura sensazionale, ma più una lettura degna dei nomi qua sopra? Optate per Madame de la Fayette, considerate anche lei, che poverina, ai giorni nostri non se la caga più nessuno.
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Mel
No one is more surprised than me at how much I liked this book because this is not my kind of book at all. But the writing was so addicting and the storyline was so interesting.

Around The Year in 52 Books Challenge #8 - A classic with less than 200 pages
Marie-aimée
Nov 27, 2011 Marie-aimée rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, fr, novels, drama, romance
Superbe roman d'amour : un débat intérieur sur la conduite morale de la princesse de Clèves procède à un véritable examen de conscience. Madame de La Fayette garde des éléments de la tradition romanesque courtoise et précieuse. Mais c'est la "conclusion" du roman que je préfère : la princesse de Clèves aspire à une idéalisation de l'amour qui ne peut s'arrêter d'exister qu'à son paroxysme.
Yann
A la cour d'Henri II, une jeune noble est rongée par des scrupules que lui inspirent l'empire d'une passion pour le beau Nemours, dont elle sait quelle est aimée, alors qu'elle est mariée à M de Cleves qui l'aime tout autant, tandis qu'elle n'éprouve pour lui que du respect. L'honneur guide toutes les conduites en ces temps, et prévenue des suites ennuyantes qui pourraient s'abattre sur elle si elle cédait aux appels de son cœur, elle combat cet amour en dissimulant ses sentiments et en fuyant l ...more
MJ Nicholls
A little too far back into French literary history for me. This is one of the earliest French “novels,” inasmuch as it tells historical events with inaccuracies. These inaccuracies form the “fiction” part of what is ostensibly an historical account of events at court over a century earlier. Madame de LaFayette might not even be the author/chronicler of this tale! What intrigue! What potential for interpretation! The prose is what one might call “prehensile” and the story what one might call “shi ...more
Vladana Perlić
Oct 29, 2015 Vladana Perlić rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pour-la-fac
Šta je čast u poređenju s ljubavlju žene? Šta je dužnost u poređenju sa držanjem novorođenog sina u naručju... ili uspomenom na bratovljev smeh? Vetar i reči. Vetar i reči. Mi smo samo ljudi, i bogovi su nas stvorili za ljubav. To je naša velika slava, i naša velika nesreća.
- Igra prestola, Džordž R. R. Martin

Budući da je moj stav takav, možete samo zamisliti kako mi je bilo frustrirajuće da čitam kraj ove knjige. Gospođa de Klev je izuzetno inteligentan i pronicljiv lik, naročito ako uzmete
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Dorothea
Apr 29, 2012 Dorothea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, romance
N.B.: I have never studied French literature and in fact was completely unaware of this work's existence until a week and a half ago. So, although I am going to praise the work of Terence Cave in translating, introducing, and annotating La princesse de Clèves, please don't believe a word I say!

I'm going to come back and put in a paragraph here about how there was one sentence in Daniel Pennac's The Rights of the Reader that made me want to read this book right away. But I want to quote that sent
...more
Bob
May 23, 2010 Bob rated it really liked it
Aside from its significance in literary history (the first example of the modern psychological novel), this book provides some useful background reading for Proust. The constellation of royal and noble families in which the Baron de Charlus, in particular, is always elucidating his position, is shown here at its apex of dominance.
The plot itself includes a few devices that were probably already hackneyed in 1678 (overhearing a crucial conversation while hiding in some bower), but includes quite
...more
Wealhtheow
Jul 12, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Héloïse
Un peu déçue par cet oeuvre dont j'avais entendu beaucoup de bien. J'ai aimé l'écriture de La Fayette mais c'est tout. J'ai trouvé l'histoire du triangle amoureux, de la complexité des sentiments et des enjeux socio-politique de l'époque absolument pas passionnants dans ce roman. Je me suis un peu ennuyée et pas du tout attachée au personnage.
Gina
Nov 07, 2015 Gina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rereads
In style and subject matter, this book reminded me of a Jane Austen novel, with all the social scandal, hidden feelings, arranged marriages, and more. Only instead of the wacky hijinks and misunderstandings surrounding poor English girls with little dowry, it's the wacky hijinks and misunderstandings surrounding the French court during Henri II's reign.

I did rather enjoy the book, despite its sad ending, lengthy bits of dialogue between lengthy bits of description and back stories, and the first
...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Paris, France sometime in the 17th century. There's the king, the queen and the rest of the nobility, one of whom is the very young, stunningly beautiful Mme de Cleves who is married to M. de Cleves (who loves her but whom she has no passion for). Then there's the playboy Duc de Nemours, described as "nature's masterpiece" and "the most handsome and the most nobly built man in the world."

"Infidelity" could qualify as a modern title for this book. Or maybe "Gossips." The main plot and the sub-plo
...more
Justin Evans
Jul 02, 2013 Justin Evans rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The nice thing about reading early specimens of what later become modes or genres is watching the problems that people will keep dealing with come up and be solved with elegant simplicity. So here, Lafayette wants to distance her stories from the romance tradition, without getting rid of all the fun stuff about the romance tradition (e.g., the idea of chivalric love and the turmoil it causes). She does it very easily, by turning to history. Her characters are for the most part historical figures ...more
Nicole Hale
Feb 14, 2013 Nicole Hale rated it really liked it
I've had this book sitting on my shelf since a college Humanities course, and it tickled my fancy for a heavier holiday read. Once I began reading the introduction and some of the analytic essays, I discovered that this book is an acclaimed French classic, considered one of the forerunners of the novel genre. I really need to brush up on my French literature.

The story is about Mademoiselle de Chartres, a newcomer to the French court. She quickly becomes the Princess de Cleves when she marries Mo
...more
Núria
Dec 27, 2008 Núria rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: idealistas que han fracasado en sus ideales
¿Una novela histórica escrita el siglo XVII ambientada en la corte francesa del siglo XVI? Créedme, ante esta premisa yo era más escéptica que nadie. El elogio de "la primera novela moderna" es un elogio que pesa como una losa. La empecé más por curiosidad intelectual que por un verdadero interés personal. Y me ha sorprendido. Me ha sorprendido gratamente. Me ha sorprendido lo mucho que me ha llegado a gustar. Lo bien que me lo he pasado. Se puede leer como una novela histórica que retrata el am ...more
Wealhtheow
Apr 05, 2013 Wealhtheow rated it did not like it
Shelves: historical
I can easily see why someone would enjoy this--court politics! beautiful clothes! rakish love interest! verbal fencing!--but I found it hard reading. Everyone seems to have a nickname, a full name, several titles, etc, and they're referred to each indiscriminately. Plus, I have a hard time with any novel that assumes that just thinking about another person is The Worst Adultery Ever, so the ending (view spoiler) ...more
Lisa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alicia Kachmar
Feb 02, 2008 Alicia Kachmar rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is quite possibly the saddest, yet most true, "love story" every written. While the book is steeped in 16th century history (and written in the 17th century), some of the tragic realities of love, the inevitable fading of passion, and the complexity of relationships are just as relevant today. I somewhat agree with the profound argument for unrequited love being the most preferable and pure kind.
Stela
Jun 11, 2014 Stela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Il y a quelque chose de très touchant, presque romantique (et non, ce n’est pas une contradiction en termes) dans cet idéal humain à qui songeaient les classiques avec leur « honnête homme » qui parvenait toujours à maîtriser ses passions à l’aide de sa raison. Il dérive, ce quelque chose, de l’opposition entre l’apparente sérénité qu’ils convoitaient en proclamant la suprématie de la raison, et la violence des passions qu’ils s’efforçaient d’apprivoiser et de cacher, opposition qui a donné nais
...more
Les Livres Libèrent
L'intrigue est intéressante ainsi que les personnages mais je n'ai pas apprécié l'écriture de l'auteur. Il y a certains passage ennuyant et quelques longueur.
Keertana
Mar 15, 2016 Keertana rated it it was amazing
I read this book in French for class but, believe me, I thoroughly enjoyed it. La Princesse de Clèves is full of court intrigue and drama, all against the backdrop of Madame de LaFayette's purpose--a mockery of the court of Henri II in order to point to greater issues within the court of Louis XIV. More importantly, though, she perfectly underlines the trials and tribulations of being a woman in the French court--the double standards, the paradoxes--and all in such a subtle way. It's a tough bo ...more
Roberta
Jun 01, 2015 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francesi, 1001
Leggerlo è stato un piacere. Il manierismo proprio di questa storia settecentesca è come un arazzo.
La principessa di Clèves si sposa per dovere, come imposto dalle convenzioni e dai ranghi dell'epoca. L'amore è un'altra cosa e, una volta introdotta alla corte, lo incontra. La coreografia con cui lui cerca lei e lei lo evita è elegantissima, così come lo sono i dialoghi e le relazioni delle persone che li circondano. Se avete guardato Lady Oscar o La stella della Senna potete avere un'idea.
Non cr
...more
Annemariem
Jun 17, 2014 Annemariem rated it really liked it
This is one of the first European novels ever written. It describes life at the French court and is historically correct, even though the main character - The Princess of Cleves - is fictional. The book was probably written by Madame Lafayette, an insider at court.

This title turned up on the '1001 books you must read before you die'-list by Peter Ackroyd. I'm steadily reading my way through the list even though I have no intention of dying just yet, so started on this one. Boy, was I in for a s
...more
Amandine
Sep 18, 2011 Amandine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 17e-siècle
Pour une raison que je ne m’explique pas, j’avais jusqu’à présent un blocage avec ce roman et pas la moindre envie de le lire. Les circonstances m’ont finalement poussée à dépasser ce refus que je ne m’explique pas plus une fois ma lecture terminée. Je n’en garderai pas un souvenir inoubliable, mais elle fut néanmoins agréable.

J’ai d’abord eu du mal à distinguer parmi tous les personnages qui était qui et comment ils étaient liés entre eux, mais une fois cette généalogie établie dans mon esprit
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Pierre Corneille
One of the iconic lines of this novel-"les passions peuvent me conduire, mais elles ne sauraient m'aveugler" (roughly: my sensibility might control my actions, but I can't claim to be ignorant of that fact)--describes, to me, the essence of this novel: the struggle between emotional (and physical) liberation in a society that prescribes "duty" as the highest probably the only serviceable virtue. It's the classic distinction that French authors of the 17th century made between "amour-passion" and ...more
Laura
Madame de Lafayette's classic tale of intrigue and love translated and freely dramatised by Jo Clifford.
Set in the 16th Century, the play follows the life of a beautiful young lady newly presented to Court. It's the reign of Henri II and Mary Queen of Scots is safely ensconced in France. It's a time of dangerous liaisons when one step out of line could ruin a woman and her family.
Quickly married off, the naïve Princess finds herself admired and taunted by those around her. And, whilst they gossi
...more
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Christened Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, she was born in Paris to a family of minor but wealthy nobility. At 16, de la Vergne became the maid of honor to Queen Anne of Austria and began also to acquire a literary education from Gilles Ménage, who gave her lessons in Italian and Latin. Ménage would lead her to join the fashionable salons of Madame de Rambouillet and Madeleine de Scudéry. Her ...more
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“If you judge by appearances in this place,' said Mme de Chartres, 'you will often be deceived, because what appears to be the case hardly ever is.” 7 likes
“There are those to whom we dare give no sign of the love that we feel for them, except in things that do not touch them directly; and, though one dares not show them that they are loved, one would at least like them to see that one does not wish to be loved by anyone else. One would hope them to know that there is no beauty, whatever her rank in society, whom one would not look upon with indifference, and that there is no crown that one would wish to purchase at the price of not seeing them again.” 5 likes
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