source: Mercier & Cie, via Auction.fr
Monday, November 21, 2016
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Today's Book: The Sylphe
Title: The Sylph
Author: Georgiana Cavendish (1757-1806)
Publication: The book was originally published anonymously under the title "The Young Lady" in 1778. The edition in Marie Antoinette's library is a French translation from 1784.
Notes: Told through letters, 'The Sylphe' is the story of a young woman named Julia Grenville, who marries an older, wealthy aristocrat and quickly finds herself disillusioned with her husband and her new life in high society. The novel was written by Georgiana Cavendish, the duchess of Devonshire, and there are many parallels between Julia in the novel and the real Georgiana. Regency History offers some insight into some of the more notable parallels.
Where you can read it: The 1779 English edition can be read at Project Gutenburg. The 1784 French translation is available at Google Books.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Today's Book: The History of Charlotte Summers, the Fortunate Parish Girl
Title: The History of Charlotte Summers, the Fortunate Parish Girl (French title: L'Orpheline angloise, ou Histoire de Charlotte Summers.)
Publication: The book was originally published in English in 1750, and translated into French the next year. The edition in Marie Antoinette's library is from 1781.
Notes: Tells the story of an orphaned girl named Charlotte Summers who is adopted by the generous Lady Bountiful, and finds her former hard knock life as an orphan turned around by her newfound family, newfound wealth and of course, her good nature--but not without some misadventures, of course!
The author of the novel is unknown. 'Charlotte Summers' is the first known imitation of Henry Fielding's popular novel Tom Jones, which may be why his sister Sarah Fielding was suspected of being the author. However, there is no definitive evidence proving Sarah Fielding was the true author.
Where you can read it: Available in English from Google Books: Volume I and Volume II
Monday, November 7, 2016
Today's Book: The Man of Feeling
Title: The Man of Feeling (French title: L'homme et la femme sensibles]
Author: Henry Mackenzie (1745-1831)
Publication: Originally published in 1771 anonymously. The French edition in Marie Antoinette's library is from 1775.
Notes: A fragmentary sentimental novel which details the life of a man named Harley who--being a 'man of feeling'--finds himself listening to the sad tales of those around them and doing what he can to alleviate their pain. His story is told through a series of vignettes in an incomplete manuscript with (contrived) missing chapters and pages, and is part of an overarching narrative which involves the manuscript of Harley's life being traded into the hands of a narrator.
The book was fairly well received in its day, but by the 19th century had become--like many other novels in the sentimentalism genre--a subject of ridicule. The 1886 edition of The Man of Feeling include an "Index of Tears," ('Chokings, &c., not counted') listing all of the times characters in the novel cry. The editor of this edition sarcastically notes: “The Man of Feeling” begins with imitation of Sterne, and proceeds in due course through so many tears that it is hardly to be called a dry book. As guide to persons of a calculating disposition who may read these pages I append an index to the Tears shed in “The Man of Feeling.”
In his 2009 edition of the novel, Brian Vickers noted that by this time the "repertory of sentimental effects ... has become a repertory of mirthful effects, perhaps to be read aloud in the Victorian parlour to an audience only needing to hear these categories of tears in order to trigger a rather different response."
Where you can read it: The 1886 English edition can be read at Project Gutenburg.
Thursday, November 3, 2016
From the Library of Marie Antoinette: Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World
Today's Book: Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World
Title: Evelina, or The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World (French Title: Evelina)
Author: Frances Burney (1754-1840)
Publication: First published in English in 1778; the 3 volume set in Marie Antoinette's library is from 1780.
The novel tells the story of Evelina, the legitimate but unacknowledged daughter of an English aristocrat who has been raised in seclusion until her 17th birthday because of her father's refusal to acknowledge her. Evelina travels to London but finds herself the source of ridicule when she makes amusing but thoroughly embarrassing social mistakes in front of her peers. As she struggles to come into her own while facing the trials and tribulations of London society, she meets a serious of both new and familiar faces who may help or hinder her on her way to a happy life.
The book was originally published anonymously by Burney due to the potential for backlash if she openly acknowledged her authorship. Burney went to great lengths to keep her authorship a secret from the general public, even going so far as to use fake identities and having her brother go in disguise to sign the publishing contract. It was a "private secret" among Burney's circle that she had written Evelina, but it was not until George Huddesford named her as the author in a footnote of a single line in his work 'Warley, a Satire' ("Or gain approbation from dear little Burney*? [* The Authoress of Evelina.]") that her name was publicly connected with the book. Whether Huddesford knowingly revealed the secret out of malice or simply breached etiquette without realizing it, Burney was not pleased--she referred to his work as a "vile poem" in a letter.
Where you can read it: You can read the original English edition on Project Gutenburg.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
The "brightest figure" gown is worn in the scene where Marie Antoinette makes her debut as the "brightest figure in the court," courtesy of the duc d'Orleans and his offer to support her and turn her fortunes around.
The gown is embroidered with intricate designs made with metallic thread, thousands of beads and jeweled flowers.
The color was described in a caption for Du Barry was a Lady as "pink moire taffeta."
The gown was featured in promotional shots for Du Barry Was a Lady, which featured costumes from the MGM film, but for unknown reasons the actual gown does not make an appearance in the movie itself. The gown was likely used in other films which reused the Marie Antoinette costumes, including Two Sisters from Boston, Scaramouche, and Ice Follies of 1939.
Its current condition and whereabouts are unknown.
Colorized publicity shot for Du Barry Was a Lady; colorization by Olga
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Today's Book: The Dangers of Coquetry
Title: The Dangers of Coquetry (French title: Les Dangers de la coquetterie)
Author: Amelia Opie (1769-1853)
Publication: Originally published in English in 1787; published in French (with a translated by Mme Marie-Armande Jeanne d'Humières) in 1787.
Notes: A novel about a young woman who turns to the dangerous art of coquetry, and finds herself attracted to an upright moral gentlemen who despises coquettish behavior.
This was Opie's first novel, written at the age of 18.
The London Review of 1790 contains an unique observation about Opie's depiction of the effects of coquetry, which most other contemporary reviewers did not pick up on from the work: "for while [the novel] attributes the most mischievous and dreadful consequences to a little innocent coquetry in the character of a wife, it [shows] them to have proceeded from an idle, ridiculous, and unfounded jealousy on part of her husband."
Where you can read it: Currently unavailable online. Broadview Press published a 2-volume book in 2003 which includes The Dangers of Coquetry and another of Opie's works, The Father and Daughter.