French / Switzerland
Madame de Staël prend sa plume. L’histoire de Germaine de Staël
(Madame de Staël seizes the quill. The story of Germaine de Staël)
Dommen, Caroline (text)
Godon, Ingrid (illus.)
Genève: La Joie de lire, 2015. – 54 p.
(Series: Traces d’histoire)
France | History 18th - 19th century | Staël, Madame de | Biography
White Ravens issue: 2016
Reading age: 7+
Who was Madame de Staël (1766-1817)? Monarchist or moderate supporter of the French Revolution? A traveling exiled Swiss woman, a European before her time, or just a Parisian? An admirer of Napoleon or his sharpest opponent? While this unusual emancipated bourgeois woman did consent to an arranged marriage to a bankrupt Swedish nobleman, she then led – to the great chagrin of her husband – an “open marriage” with changing lovers and a growing number of children from different fathers. Her best known essay, “De l’Allemagne” (1810/1813), continues to have an impact today. Its highly idealizing portrayals created a mystifying picture of Germany that held influence well beyond France and the 19th century. This interesting short biography by Bridget and Caroline Dommen from the series “Traces d’histoire” gets to the bottom of some facets of this fascinating whirlwind and also investigates certain contradictions.