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ENG150Y1 - Princesse de Cleves - Lecture Notes.docx

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William Robins

ENG150Y1 – LECTURE NOTES Monday, February 25, 2013 Princess of Cleves – Lecture 1  The confusing first pages of the novel reflects princess of cleves’ confusion  Two purposes: historical details, and interpretations  Novel was an immediate success  People of its time debated its merits  The princess is young 15-16 years old  Taking chivalric romance genre as a template but moves away from it  Gives women a plot line  The genre is presented as unsatisfying way for the princess to understand  Novel becomes more compelling and psychologically impelling  Worries about privacy and public status reflect our time with the social media  The novel is during a time when women are accepted into the culture of education and the like  Madame de Lafayette elevates the status of the women writer  Novels weth often criticized as forms of entertainment for women during the time  By the 19 century, it became the main mode of literature  Was common for women to publish their work anonymously or use a man’s name  The publication history itself demonstrates the fascination of secrecy as a theme in the novel  It’s a historical novel  The writer refers to the old tradition of the salon, where people were discuss history, debates about things such as plays and the like  This tradition emulates the welcoming of women into this literary communication Incorporation of women in the literary communication: - Writer does this by focusing on the circles and how they work which introduce the royal women such as the Queen o Francois 1 is henry 2’s father o H2 is married to Catherine de medici who is the queen o H2’s son – francois 2 marries Marie stuart who is the reine dauphine o H2’s sister is marguerite o H2\S daughter is Elisabeth o There is a peace treaty that is sealed through marriage, marguerite’s and elisabeth’s with the duke of savoy and the king of spain respectively o This shows that private passion and public relations are connected o The king’s mistress is mme de valentinois (diane) o H2 loves her o The real power lies within her o Kings are controlled by the women, shown when francois 1 dies and MDV controls his son who also has an affair with her - There is fascination with queen Elisabeth and the notion of an unmarried woman o Reine dauphine tells the story of anne boelyn o She refers to marguerite who later becomes queen in Navarre which is an allusion to an early female writer of lafayette’s time o Therefore the writer pays homage to women writers - Shown through the relationship between princess of cleves and her mother o They discuss about women’s reputations, how affairs always end bad, never trust men o They discuss about the history of MDV which shows the anxieties o Using past history of affairs to learn lessons and serves as a guide on how women are to behave o Using this as moral justification for gossip and telling stories A cycle of moral education that the princess goes through via the stories of other women: - Creates a sense of community - Embedded narratives o Stories set within a primary narrative = tales told by characters that digress the main narrative or inset texts of various kinds o Relations of an embedded narrative to the primary narrative  Action = contributes to the development of the plot (ex: when reine de dauphine tells the princess of cleves that her lover is giving up his pursuit of queen Elisabeth)  Explanation = offers an explanation of the diegetic level  Resemblance = provides an analogy or contrast to the primary narrative o M.Bal = the mirror text serves as directions for use: the embedded story contains a suggestion of how the text should be read  This novel focuses on the work of a woman  It is here where the female heroine as the main protagonist  She is still defined by love and the object of desire by 2 men (love triangle)  But the focus on the novel is not necessary on the desire of the men, but what is happening in the thoughts of the princess  Her private life / interiority becomes the focus  This novel is so famous because of its psychological exploration of the life of the characters  Novel is obsessed with tracing the thoughts of individuals  During Louis 14’s time, monarchy was an absolute one; people of the court had to live with Louis, the people presented themselves as witty o Atmosphere of courtly manners but within that outer layer lies an inner one that
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