La Fayette Revisited

Erin Blakemore, “France’s Famous High School Exam Will Soon Feature Its First Woman Author,” Smithsonian 21 March 2017:

…But the novella isn’t La Fayette’s most famous work. That would be The Princess of Cleves, a dramatic novel that’s widely cited as France’s first historical novel. The book became a big deal in France again in 2009, when France’s then-president, Nicolas Sarkozy, mocked its inclusion on the civil service exam. As The Guardian‘s Andrew Gallix reported at the time, the president’s public hatred of the book turned it into a political symbol and short-lived bestseller.

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My article on The Princess of Cleves as a symbol of resistance to Sarkozy was published on The Guardian‘s website today. Here’s a short extract:

“Sarkozy’s personal vendetta — cloaked in anti-elitist demagoguery — has managed to turn The Princess of Cleves into an unlikely symbol of political resistance. In the eyes of many, it now exemplifies the sheer effusion of a culture that cannot be squared with this government’s vulgar mercantile ethos.”

To read the whole thing, please go here.