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The Princesse de Clèves

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  7,103 Ratings  ·  319 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 1678)
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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
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 over this sen
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
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
Jan 10, 2016 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 :)
Υπάρχουν βιβλία των οποίων η ιστορική αξία είναι σημαντικότερη από την λογοτεχνική, τουλάχιστον για τον σύγχρονο αναγνώστη. Σε αυτήν την κατηγορία θεωρώ ότι ανήκει και αυτό εδώ το έργο που καθώς εκδόθηκε στα 1678 είναι από τα πρώτα μυθιστορήματα. Πέρα από αυτό όμως τίποτα.

Είναι ένα ιστορικό αισθηματικό μυθιστόρημα. Η δράση διαδραματίζεται κατά τα τελευταία χρόνια της βασιλείας του Ερρίκου Β' της Γαλλίας και λίγο μετά. Στην αυλή του Ερρίκου (1547-1559) όλοι συνωμοτούν και χοροπηδούν χαρωπά (συχνά
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 ended up confus
Nov 01, 2011 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.
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il y a quelque chose de 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 naissance ...more
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
Nov 13, 2011 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.
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 sent
Vladana Perlić
Sep 15, 2015 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
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 quite
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.
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.
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 she marries Mo
Nov 10, 2008 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
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
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, and the first
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
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics, french
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.
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
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 fortunat
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, french, france
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 respects but ca
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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.” 8 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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