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Selected Letters

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  322 ratings  ·  30 reviews
One of the world's greatest correspondents, Madame de Sevigne (1626-96) paints an extraordinarily vivid picture of France at the time of Louis XIV, in eloquent letters written throughout her life to family and friends. A significant figure in French society and literary circles, whose close friends included Madame de La Fayette and La Rochefoucauld, she reflected on both s ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 30th 1982 by Penguin Classics (first published 1725)
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3.84  · 
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Oh, these were utterly delightful, and I wish I had more of them. (Also, I would like to be able to read them in French someday.) They're a simply marvellous mix of court gossip, political news, and family matters, in a fluid and vivacious style, often very funny.

I laughed especially over the bit where her son discloses a recent problem with impotence: "He had found a favourable opportunity, and yet, dare I say it? His little gee-gee stopped short at Lerida. It was an extraordinary thing; the d
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: renaissance, france
Madame de Sévigné était la sœur de Bussy-Rabutin, l'amie de madame de Lafayette et de La Rochefoucault, et des milieux frondeurs. Cette correspondance contient principalement les échanges qu'elle eut avec sa fille, qu'elle aimait passionnément, mais dont elle fut séparée lorsque cette dernière partit en Provence suivre son mari, le compte de Grignan. On y trouve une foule de marques touchante d'affection inquiètes et tendres d'une mère pour sa fille, écrites avec autant de grâce que de naturel, ...more
I am not going to rate this because without sufficient notes it is very hard to read and judge. There must be many more astute and clever observations than I was able to catch. The first half seemed not much more normal family news, with the exception of the trial of Foucquet. Her maturity and wider range of commentary make the second half better, but still difficult to penetrate for someone unfamiliar with detailed French history. I was hoping to understand why Proust has Marcel's grandmother s ...more
Philippe Malzieu
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I come to buy the house of her grand-daughter Pauline de Simiane beside Grignan. I thus read again with attention its letters in a beautiful edition XIX°. She talks about the house in a letter.
The letters of Mrs. de Sévigné are an old memory of high school. I remember of them as something of old and stiff.
I was pleased to read again them. I let myself carry by this admirable style. Splendid testimony of the Court of Louis XIV.
Perhaps I have the âge to appréciate them.
Apr 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read because she was a major influence on Proust via his mother. But it is also a hilarious and inciteful read in its own right. A gossip in the court, Madame's obsession with her daughter is impressive. Sevigne jumps from the page like Cellini.
Feb 01, 2009 marked it as to-read
Madame de Sevigne was referenced as a big influence on the Lennox sisters in the book Aristocrats. From what they had to say about her and her letter writing style, I'm interested.
J'ai lu une édition différente. C'est très intéressant de voir à quel point les lettres étaient importantes à cette époque. J'ai trouvé Mme de Sévigné bien obsédée avec sa fille. Mais bon, elle était aussi veuve à un jeune âge, et les lettres semblent être devenues le point focal de sa vie après cela. Ses lettres étaient à la fois, journal intime, miroir de la cour, conseils maternels et bien d'autres.
Feb 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sévigné, comme Proust le fera à son tour un jour, fait de l'art avec sa quotidianité; les lettres à sa fille, pleines de charm et d'esprit, deviennent un miroir magnifique de la vie dans la cour de Louis XIV.
May 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
I am reading this book in French to help me master the language, so it is a challenge to get through the whole book, but it is a beautiful diary even with grammatical confusion.
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic
Read at Bennington 1969 for Monsieur guy's class...very thoughtful and lively letters to her beloved daughter
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Un grand classique que j'aime beaucoup, des lettres pleines de charme et d'esprit.
Damien Travel
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Grignan’s castle, perched on top of the town and commanding the surrounding plain is one of Provence’s literary highlights. This is where the Marquise de Sévigné’s daughter, Madame de Grignan lived after being married with a Provencal gentleman. The letters from the mother to the daughter are one the most wonderful examples of the French epistolary art in the 17th century. The marquise paid some visits to her daughter but she dreaded the long journeys in the Rhone valley and preferred writing. H ...more
Aug 09, 2019 marked it as abandons  ·  review of another edition
Ça fait une éternité qu'il traîne sur ma table de nuit... Je l'abandonne officiellement...
Hannah Conner
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating letters from a courtier of King Louis XIV. Many of the people and events were unfamiliar to me, but the letters were still enjoyable and gave an interesting look into the time.
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a poorly annotated selection of some of the most endearing letters ever written. No, I didn't understand everything; some of the allusions are too obscure even for historians to decipher. But this is to be expected. These are personal letters, after all; and they're steeped in daily incidents and goings-on that sometimes have no other referent in printed materials. Most of the allusions, however, can be made out with some helpful footnotes (don't count on the Penguin edition for this...) ...more
Christina Manolescu
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Becomes a fascinating read, once you have immmersed yourself in this extravagant bygone world and become acquainted with the historical characters of the age of Louis XIV, many of whom Madame de Sévigné knew personally. Many passages in these letters are witness to the love of Madame S. for her absent daughter, the Comptesse de Grignan, a love which has been described by some as almost pathological in its intensity. Nevertheless, despite reports of jury trials and prison sentences in the Bastill ...more
Jan 17, 2008 rated it liked it
this is one of those collections i don't feel i have to read straight from the first cover to the last. my style with this book is to open it at a random page and just start reading. that being said, this is, in truth, the perpetual "current read". written in 17th century french, i can't understand it like i would a contemporary writing. while there are bits of formality and sophistication - some of her letters are beautifully written - there are also outdated idioms, words and turns of phrase i ...more
Sep 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Selected letters, written mostly to her daughter, by a wealthy and noble 17th century middle- aged French woman - what to they have to say to us 350 years later?
Plenty, they're like letters or e-mail you'd get today, full of interesting comments about pleasures (visiting, dinners, getting ready for important people) and disasters (executions, plots, her son never having any money) going on around her.
She died at age 70 in 1696, and in one of her last letters she remarks on the aging process.
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: letters, classics
Этот сборник писем придется по душе любителям эпохи Людовика XIV. Письма наполнены не только безграничной материнской любовью, но и описанием политических и общественных событий, которые представляют собой исторический интерес. Также у нас есть возможность проехать вместе с Мадам де Савенье по дорогам Прованса и Бретани, посетовать на дороги и переправу по реке. Но для того, чтобы получить полное удовольствие от прочтения, нужно было постоянно заглядывать в указатель имен, пока не запомнились вс ...more
Sólo leí algunas cartas así que no estoy en posición de calificar pero resumiendo: No me parecieron nada especial. Para apreciarlas hay que situarse en contexto, pero aún así no me sentí muy interesada y tardé bastante en leer lo que serían unas 100 páginas. Sin embargo no es que sean insoportables. Están bien, y sus anécdotas y observaciones sirven para hacerse una imagen de aquella época.
Mad. de Sevingé, me caíste bien; aunque tus cartas sean medio meh.
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book includes about 100 of over 1000 letters that she wrote in her lifetime. I enjoyed reading them even though I am not that familiar with the characters of 17th century France so sections were lost on me. Since all the letters are written from her or from others to her daughter, you only get a one sided view. Those who are interested in French history will like this book.

I will now have to read a biography on her to fill in the blanks.
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
J'avais déjà lu et apprécié auparavant un recueil de lettres de Mme de Sévigné, mais cette lecture plus approfondie, m'a quelque peu exaspérée, cet amour vif est déboussolant
J'ai eu plus de mal pour cette lecture, l'exaspération des sentiments m'est apparue plus clairement

D'autres chroniques sur Lesen,Leben sur Facebook
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, essays
Had to read for class...painfully boring. I am sure many historians have been able to garner information from her letters but this collection is like trying to read a 300 year old soap opera. A disappointment for me.
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Couldn't get through it... Madame de Sévigné definitely loves her daughter very very much, there's no escaping that! Although nice to read how the French upperclass lived during that time, stopped reading the letters about 1/3 of the book.
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Jun 15, 2012
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Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné (5 February 1626 – 17 April 1696) was a French aristocrat, remembered for her letter-writing. Most of her letters, celebrated for their wit and vividness, were addressed to her daughter. She is revered in France as one of the great icons of French literature.
“Az igazság azonban ott van a szívekben.” 2 likes
“Hát csókolom, drága kicsikém. Ha tud, szeressen továbbra is, ez az egyetlen dolog, amit kívánok magamnak, amitől megbékél a lelkem. Magának persze még sok mást is kívánok: egy szó, mint száz, minden maga körül forog, magától, magáért, maga által van.” 2 likes
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