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Corinne, or Italy

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  447 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Corrine, or Italy, is both the story of a love affair between Oswald, Lord Nelvil, and a beautiful poetess, and an homage to the landscape, literature and art of Italy. Stael, the subject of recent feminist rediscovery, weaves discreet political allusion into her romance, and upon its publication Napoleon renewed her order of exile. Sylvia Raphel's new translation preserve ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published May 15th 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1807)
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Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For Fionnuala, who keeps reminding me of the books that formed me in the prehistoric times of my enthusiastic youth!

Corinne is the eternal question of self-defined development in a restrictive environment. It can be read as an early attempt at female creative emancipation, or as a universal story of finding and expressing a powerful self in a dull collective.

It can be read as a love story with a beautiful setting - the object of love being art.

It can be read as a period piece showing a way of l
Apr 26, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Father, let this cup be taken from me?!'

(view spoiler)

Corinne (or Italy) , like her ‘sister’ work, Clarissa (the History of a Young Woman of Quality) , is a work on the side of feeling, tinged with aesthetic philosophy, of study of the
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Madame de Stael's second novel Corinne (1806), which takes place mostly in Italy but also in Scotland, infuriated Napoleon because Stael dared to ignore France and suggest that French writers had something to learn from the artistic milieu of Italy and from an intellectually superior heroine. The Emperor had already banned Stael from Paris for her first novel, Delphine (1802), which dared advocate divorce (forbidden under the Code Napoleon). When Corinne came out, he banned the author from all ...more
The very basic story line is Corinne who is the consummate artist, intellectual and the toast of Rome goes on an extended "date" with Lord Nelvil the indecisive whom Corinne feels understands her and is her equal. This date is a tour which covers several Italian cities. In the meantime they go to a few parties and fall in love.

Corinne, or Italy is both a romance and a collection of nostalgic ideas about the history of Italy's art, architecture, mythology, history, philosophy, religion, music, a
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

My story of Corinne begins with my college experience of Literary Women, by Ellen Moers, and her dedication of an entire section to DeStael's book, entitled Performing Heroinism: The Myth of Corinne. I've finally, through the miracle of online publishing, been able to see for myself that which was so rigorously discussed in her book.

As a researcher, Moers found Madame DeStael's early-19th-century book to be an essential contribution to the history of western Europe's early female authors. She c
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new2me
Despite the idea behind this novel seeming to be interesting, I simply couldn't make myself really care about the characters to invest much effort with this one. A story of Oswald, choosing the safe choice of submissive, malleable less passionate woman over the sensitive, creative, energy consuming independent thinking woman who he really loves. Too much emotion and not enough real living for my tastes. ...more
Richard Seltzer
Jan 26, 2022 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The French is easy to read, but there is no story. It's all sizzle.
I was curious because Madame de Stael was admired and alluded to by authors I admire.
I was disappointed because after setting the stage for love affair between a wealthy melancholy Englishman and a brilliant and talented Italian woman, the author delivers what amounts to little more than a travelogue of Rome.
Jun 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Tragic tale of a genius whose brilliance expires when she's forsaken for a hot blonde.

*shakes fist at men*

Corrine's correct about the English. Their culture is a coffin.
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Gorgeous, sumptuous, dripping with equal parts irony and Romanticism. I wish I'd had this book to console me during my first breakup. ...more
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romanticism
Potential readers beware: the first 200-300 pages of Corinne are basically just a long travel guide to Italy, and particularly Rome. If you enjoy reading about all the antiquities of that fabled land, you may enjoy the long descriptions of columns and ruins and paintings and sculptures. But I think most readers find these pages pretty boring.

If you persist through, them, though, you will happen upon one of the most remarkable novels of the nineteenth century. Corinne, the heroine, is a woman of
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, reviews
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura McNeal
The Eat, Pray, Love of the Regency period. Go to Italy, it says, to be warm, to be healed, to fall in love. Fortunately, one of the people to whom it said that was Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who read it in 1832, when she was a 26-year-old invalid whose only true intellectual companion was an old blind Greek scholar who treated her so badly that he needs to be played by John Malkovich. To him she wrote, "I have read Corinne for the third time and admire it more than ever . . . it deserves to be ...more
Franziska Grech
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually give 5 stars to a book unless it speaks to me and has something remarkable about it. And this book gave me both. Madame de Stael's writing can go to different lengths. From portraying with extreme the character's inner turmoil to describing a monument or place with extreme detail in such a way that even your emotions towards the monument are evoked. Moreover her beauty in her writing also lies in her great wisdom of life, inserting passages in her story of great moral thought so ...more
Corinne McNab
I bought this book purely out of vanity (My name is on the cover). I tried to read it, but nearly dislocated my jaw yawning. If anything, this was great for my insomnia. Maybe I'll pick it up again when I'm a little bit older, more of an intellectual, or just plan out of anything else to read.

Nicki Markus
Sep 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-classics
Corinne was an interesting book in that it could be read in many ways: as a tragic love story, a feminist treatise, or a travel guide to Italy and Italian art. Sections of the text were given over to the characters visiting famous sites in Italian towns, including art galleries, and long descriptions were provided of what they saw, which was fascinating for me, since it interests me, but it would probably be a little dull for readers without such interest. The story itself took a while to get go ...more
Muaz Jalil
Too melodramatic for my taste. Corrine apparently is femme-pays of Italy. It is semi autobiographical and Lord Nelvil is Constant, who had a long running affair with Germaine. Madame Stael's lifestory is really interesting and so may be next I will read her letters and Adolphe by Constant. ...more
Anna Varna
Very impressed and touched by this book. I read it in Greek translation. I think that the most important thing about it is how a woman of the early 19th century managed to write a novel where the protagonist is such an extraordinary woman. The only other examples I know of that era, are the English novels of Austen and the Brontes and their heroines, no matter how powerful they are, do not enjoy even the least of freedom Corinna does.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A book I would dearly have liked to edit--it would have been much better if it lost about half its length. I grew tired of waiting for the heroine to stop complaining about her lost love and die already (and the hero to stop fainting). However, I did read it for my research and not necessarily for entertainment.
Shannon Stults
FINALLY!!!! I don't know when the last time it was that it took me over a month to read a book. Not a major fan of this book. The characters got on my nerves, the story was slow and the plot almost inexistant in the first half of the novel. I had to read this one for my 19th cent British lit class, and will probably never read it again! ...more
I think the book would have easily gained another star if only Lord Nelvil would shut up and wander off into a quiet corner to die. What Corinne ever saw in him escapes me.

Still, this is a very good example of an 18th/early 19th century novel and I happen to really like that sort of thing so three stars.
Oct 06, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-reads
Blurgh. I honestly can't think of a single thing that I liked about this book. So slow as to be almost painful and the characters were ridiculous to a fault. Never have I wanted to throw a book against the wall so many times. ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Madame de Staël’s novel "Corinne, or Italy" (1807) is the story of a larger-than-life woman, an almost mythical creature that an entire people have raised as their national genius. The self-evident symbiosis between the two juxtaposed elements of the book’s title results in a definite gendered vision of Italy. “Look at her, she is the image of our beautiful Italy,” a noble theatrically presents Corinne the first time Lord Nelvil and the readers meet her. Corinne, with her raven hair and lively e ...more
Nov 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really did not like this book at first. It was assigned in an English seminar, and I could not deal with half of the content since it was basically a lecture on Ancient Rome. I get enough of that in my other courses. I will happily pass.


The last half of the book made up for a lot. The level of drama, despair and declarations of death is simply impeccable. I have never seen a love triangle be depicted as heart-wrenching as this one. There is no way you won't feel bad for Corinne d
Coleman Ridge
Mar 28, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book shows a particular kind of human excellence and the problems it is likely to cause. This is a very old literary project, going right back to Odysseus' many-mindedness ​and Antigone's scruples. In this case, the excellence is enthusiasm: big emotions driving continual intellectual activity, which in turn leads to more big emotions. Corrine models this virtue, and is a charming fount of talk and thought, much given to lecturing and performance, but lectures and performances deserving of ...more
Oct 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Corinne's short "History of Corinne" (Book XIV, Chapters I to IV) should be required reading in courses examining the early literary origins of the nineteenth century crusade for women's rights as rooted in the Enlightenment and the greater possibilities for educated ladies in continental Europe prior to the Napoleonic era.

After all, this was written by the brilliantly intellectual salonnière feared by Napoleon himself, who insulted her in a ballroom by replying to her question that the most wo
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
A walking tour through Italy interspersed with a tragic love story.

Favourite Quotes:

...for nothing is sadder than not to be moved by what ought to move us. We think our soul has dried up, we fear we have lost the power of enthusiasm, without which the faculty of thinking would serve only to give a distaste for life.

It made me think of Christmas as an adult.

should I desert [Lucile] when her mother is dying, when she will have no one but me to console her? Oh Corinne, you are so brilliant, so soug
Isobel Cook
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
A good read and at points very moving, but the long descriptions of Italian architecture and culture can get a little tedious. The character of Corrine is really interesting both as a Romantic and proto-Feminist type figure. The novel feels very modern in its depiction of the struggle she faces in reconciling her talent and desire for glory, with her passionate love for a man who views a wife's role as entirely domestic. Having said that, the plot and dialogue sometimes feel a bit melodramatic. ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matteo Simoncelli
Mar 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
A love letter to Italy and her culture, one of the manifestoes of the transition from the Neoclassical to the Romantic Age, in terms of Ideology, Aesthetics, Criticism, Morals. Mme de Staël also inquires into the emergence of Nationalities, the nature of Genius and the female condition at the dawn of the Napoleonic Era
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Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein (22 April 1766 – 14 July 1817), commonly known as Madame de Staël, was a French woman of letters of Swiss origin whose lifetime overlapped with the events of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era. She was one of Napoleon's principal opponents. Celebrated for her conversational eloquence, she participated actively in the political and intellectual life ...more

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