Book//mark – The Princesse de Clèves | Madame de La Fayette (1678)

Book//mark - The Princesse de Clèves | Madame de La Fayette (1678)

La Princesse de Clèves is a French novel which was published anonymously in March 1678. It is regarded by many as the beginning of  the modern tradition of the psychological novel, and as a great classic work. Its author is generally held to be Madame de La Fayette.


“Ambition and gallantry were the heart and soul of the court, preoccupying men and women equally. There were so many different factions and parties, and the women played so great a role in them, that love was always allied to politics and politics to love.”

“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.”

“He foresaw great obstructions on the part of the Duke of Nevers his father: the Duke
was strictly attached to the Duchess of Valentinois, and the Viscount de Chartres was her
enemy, which was a sufficient reason to hinder the Duke from consenting to the marriage
of his son, with a niece of the Viscount’s.”

“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.”

”You are on the brink of the precipice: you will need to make an immense effort against
your own inclinations to hold back. Think of your duty to your husband, think of
your duty to yourself, and consider that you will lose the reputation you have gained
and which I so much desired for you.”

“My thoughts are violent and uncertain, and I am not able to control them; I no longer
think myself worthy of you, nor do I think you are worthy of me; I adore you, I hate
you, I offend you, I ask your pardon, I admire you, I blush for my admiration: in
a word, I have nothing of tranquillity or reason left about me:”

Madame de La Fayette, The Princesse de Clèves, 1678

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