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The Princesse de Clèves

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  9,132 ratings  ·  454 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 (first published March 17th 1678)
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Average rating 3.43  · 
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 ·  9,132 ratings  ·  454 reviews

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Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics, english, arc
***Advance Review Copy generously provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Well, I have to say the moment I saw this book I thought that it would be about Anne of Cleves a.k.a. the luckiest wife of Henry VIII.

I never heard about the book The Princess of Clèves before, so, I was in for a surprise.

As for this comics, it was very well done. I liked the art, the muted colours which I felt fitted it very well. The storyline was simple, but I was interested in se
I knew very little about this book. Only that it was written in the seventeenth century, while set in the mid sixteenth century, and that former President Sarkozy of France felt that it was by itself holding back France from becoming a World leading super-power-mega-empire simply by clogging up the literature curriculum in schools (view spoiler). This last point was plainly a good enough reason for reading, if a h ...more
This classic of early French literature was published in 1678 anonymously, but was later attributed to Madame de LaFayette. It is set in 1558-59 France in the court of King Henry II. It's historical fiction and by most accounts it's fairly accurate in it's portrayal of the people and events of the era. It's the story of a young girl sent to court to find a husband, marries a prince then falls in love with a duke. The intrigues and little dramas that surround these events play out through the nov ...more
Sep 19, 2009 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 titul ...more
Debbie Zapata
Mar 10, 2015 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 o
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2010 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
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
God, what a heartbreaking novel. Even while I suspected where it would go, I held on to the hope that maybe it wouldn't go there. Ultimately it did and my poor heart could not take it. Move over Romeo and Juliet, the Duke of Nemours and the Princess of Clèves are the patron saints of star-crossed lovers.

The beginning is a chore to get through. The name dropping of the everyone in the French Court is supposed to give you a sense of place along with a cast of characters but it just end
Roman Clodia
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Mme de Lafayette wrote this during the reign of Louis XIV but the novel is set in the court of Henri II when his queen is Catherine de Medici, the young Mary Queen of Scots is his daughter-in-law and Diana de Poitiers was his mistress. As a courtier herself, Mme de Lafayette knew intimately the intrigues and gossip that went on at court and she conveys that magnificently.

The young and very beautiful Madame de Cleves comes to court, is married rapidly to a man whom she admires and res
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
Apr 29, 2012 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 sente
Nicole Hale
Dec 20, 2012 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 sh
La Princesse de Clèves
Madame de La Fayette (1634 – 1693)

This is considered the first modern love story in the setting of the royal court of Henry II,
16th century.
Madame de La Fayette born in 1634, knows the history and the rules at the royal court of Louis XIV by personal experience and composes her novel in a style that is considered ‘classic’, simple, credible, conservative and what is called ‘precious’.
A noble language.
For me, the first thirty pages, were quite
Justin Evans
Jul 02, 2013 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
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
Bedazzled by all the functional name-dropping and court-gossip, I can see through all the intrigues a very good psychological portrait of the main character. JM
May 23, 2010 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
Aug 28, 2007 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
Nen & Jen
☆ ☆ ☆
As someone unfamiliar with the original Princess of Cleves written by Madame de Lafayette, the introduction to this graphic novel was intense. There was a lot of information provided that was essential in understanding complex dynamics between characters. Luckily, a family tree is provided. Unluckily, I received an eARC (which I usually don’t mind) but it made going back and forth to the family tree quite cumbersome. If you’re familiar with the story however, it may not be an issue fo
I loved this book way too much! It reminded me of Le Lys dans la vallée which is one of my favourie books and I basically loved everything about it. It sure is short and only talks about love, yet it was enough for me. I feel so stupid for not reading it during high school when I had to but it's a gem!
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I think I said in another thread that I was not a particular fan of romance novels but that there must be one or two worth reading. The Princesse de Clèves I found to be one of them.

This is a true historical novel in that, though first published in 1678, describes the French court of about 100 years earlier. It starts out in a rather confusing way to describe many of the people - kings, queens, etc. - and their relationships and alliances. Frankly, I couldn't quite keep it straight, but fo
Sep 27, 2012 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, a
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, whils
Jul 30, 2007 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.
Michelle Miller (True Book Addict)
A quote from the Madame de La Fayette author page here on Goodreads: "... the work is often taken to be the first true French novel and a prototype of the early psychological novel." This was definitely an interesting depiction of the intrigues of the French court, and when I say intrigues, I mean the intrigues of love. Initially, a bit overwhelmed with the multitude of characters described in the novel, I was finally able to keep everyone straight, although with effort. Regarding it being an ea ...more
Feb 26, 2016 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
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: french, classics
The book is definitely worth reading, however one will find the descriptions of the characters repetitive. Three characteristics are always mentioned: merit, wit and the character will always be the most handsome or exceptionally handsome/beautiful. And the cover shows by how much the author have been exagerating about the beauty.

Nonetheless, it was rather pleasant that the book was not absurdly melodramatic.
Morgane Moncomble
2nd read of this baby and I still love it so much.
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, women, france, fiction
One of those typical French novels focusing on the 'bienséance' or virtue of a woman who is permanently confronted with attempted seduction by rather horny French noblemen. What makes this particular book somewhat interesting is that the princess of Clèves resorts to extreme measures and actually tells her husband that she is having affectionate feelings for another man. Of course, nowadays, this does not seem like a big step, but at the time, this simple fact alone was enough to send ripples of ...more
Feb 02, 2008 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.
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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
“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.” 16 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.” 8 likes
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