One of the most important French writers of the XVII Century was Madeleine de Scudéry, often simply known as Mademoiselle de Scudéry. She was a learned and accomplished woman, born on November, 15th 1607 at Le Havre, Normandy, from the Captain of the port. Both he and her mother died when she and her brother […]
One of the most important French writers of the XVII Century was Madeleine de Scudéry, often simply known as Mademoiselle de Scudéry.
She was a learned and accomplished woman, born on November, 15th 1607 at Le Havre, Normandy, from the Captain of the port. Both he and her mother died when she and her brother were young, and they both were placed in the care of an uncle who made sure that Madeleine received a complete education: she studied agriculture, medicine, cooking, Spanish, and Italian, on top of writing, spelling, drawing, dancing, painting, and needlework.
She wrote several novels in which historical and mythical figures were just the lens through which she often spoke of people within her own society.
Les Femmes Illustres, composed in 1642, is written in the form of letters, from famous mythical heroines to other heroines or, more often, to the men who caused their downfall and death.
I’ve been looking into it a lot, recently, in trying to tie back a few knots of things I’ve been writing. My notes became a 50-pages illustrated thing, and I’ve decided to publish them in parts, here on the blog. We’ve been having only technology-related articles, lately, and we know what too much work did to Jack.
Les Femmes Illustres is divided into volumes and chapters, each chapter a woman and the letter she’s writing to a prominent character in her life. The title echoes Boccaccio’s De Mulieribus Claris, and we meet some of the same women in both works. I’ve only gotten through the first volume, which contains 19 letters:
- Artemise a Isocrate;
- Mariamne à Herodes;
- Cleopatre à Marc-Antoine;
- Sifigambis à Alexandre;
- Sophonisbe à Massinissa;
- Zenoble à ses filles;
- Porcie à Volumnius;
- Berenice à Titus;
- Panthée à Cyrus;
- Amalasonthe à Theodar;
- Lucrece à Colatin;
- Volumnia à Virgille;
- Athenais à Theodose;
- Pelucheria au Patriarche de Constantinople;
- Calphurnie à Lepide;
- Livie à Mecene;
- Cloelia à Persenna;
- Octavie à Auguste;
- Agripine au peuple Romain;
- Sapho à Erinne.
Once a day, including today, we’ll be a few articles short to cover a good deal of October, which incidentally is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we’ll see that there’s a lot of that, in these stories.
For now, I’ll leave you with the opening quote from the book. See you tomorrow with Artemisia II of Caria.
Que la mort vaut mieux que la servitude
Que l’Honneur est préférable à l’Amour.
Que l’on doit se confirmer pour la personne aimée
Que la vie Champêtre est préférable à celles de Villes.
Que l’Amour ne doit point mourir avec l’amante.
Que l’Amour ne doit aller que indiquant Tombeau.
Que la Beauté n’est pas un bien.
Que la Beauté n’est pas un bien.
Que le Malheur n’a point de bornes que la Mort.
Que l’Amour vient de la feule inclination.
Que les Tombeaux doivent être inviolables.
Qu’on peut être Esclave et Maîtresse,
Qu’on ne doit point faillir par exemple.
Que qui n’a point ex de mal ne connaît pas le plaisir.
Que l’Amour conjugale doit surpasser toutes les autres.
Que l’absence est pire que la mort.
Que la gaine ne doit point aller au-delà du Tombeau.
Ques les apparences sont trompeuses,
Que la mort est plus faucheuse en la personne aimée qu’en soi-même.
Que tout est permis en l’Amour comme en la Guerre.