Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman

( 3 )

Overview

Life at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette has long captivated readers, drawn by accounts of the intrigues and pageantry that were to come to such a sudden and unexpected end. Stefan Zweig's Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman is a dramatic account of the guillotine's most famous victim, from the time when as a fourteen-year-old she took Versailles by storm, to her frustrations with her aloof husband, the passionate love affair with the Swedish Count von Fersen, and ultimately to the chaos...
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Overview

Life at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette has long captivated readers, drawn by accounts of the intrigues and pageantry that were to come to such a sudden and unexpected end. Stefan Zweig's Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman is a dramatic account of the guillotine's most famous victim, from the time when as a fourteen-year-old she took Versailles by storm, to her frustrations with her aloof husband, the passionate love affair with the Swedish Count von Fersen, and ultimately to the chaos of the French Revolution and the savagery of the Terror. An impassioned narrative, Zweig's biography focuses on the human emotions of the participants and victims of the French Revolution, making it both an engrossingly compelling read and a sweeping and informative history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802139092
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2002
  • Series: Grove Great Lives
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 476
  • Sales rank: 220,034
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.07 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Stefan Zweig
Stefan Zweig (1881—1942) spent his youth studying philosophy and the history of literature in Vienna and belonged to a pan-European cultural circle that included Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss. In 1934, under National Socialism, Zweig fled Austria for England, where he authored several novels, short stories, and biographies. In 1941 Zweig and his second wife traveled to Brazil, where they both committed suicide. NYRB Classics published his novels Chess Story and Beware of Pity.
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Table of Contents

Introduction xi
A Child Marriage 3
Secret of the Alcove 20
Debut at Versailles 32
Fight for a Word 42
Conquest of Paris 59
The King Is Dead, Long Live the King! 68
Portrait of a Royal Couple 76
Queen of the Rococo 89
Trianon 104
The New Society 116
A Fraternal Visit 125
Motherhood 136
The Queen Becomes Unpopular 144
A Thunderclap in the Rococo Theatre 156
The Diamond Necklace 170
Trial and Sentence 187
The People and the Queen Awaken 200
The Decisive Summer 208
Friends Desert 217
The Friend Appears 226
Was He or Was He Not? 237
The Last Night in Versailles 248
The Hearse of the Monarchy 258
Self-Awareness 266
Mirabeau 277
Preparations for Escaps 288
The Flight to Varennes 298
The Night in Varennes 308
Return to Paris 314
Reciprocal Deception 323
The Friend's Last Appearance 332
Flight into War 342
Last Cries 350
The Tenth of August 356
The Temple 367
Marie Antoinette Alone 381
Final Solitude 389
The Conciergerie 401
A Last Endeavour 408
The Supreme Infamy 416
Preliminary Examination 427
On Trial before the Revolutionary Tribunal 434
Drive to the Scaffold 448
The Keening 455
Chronological Table 462
Postface 466
Index 473
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 7, 2011

    Outstanding...

    This is an absolutely great read. What a pleasure to read a biography that is more substance than style. You become immersed in 18th century France and all the events surrounding the French Revolution. Certainly Marie Antoinette had her flaws but is also misunderstood to a great degree. Highly recommended, especially to those who don't know of her beyond "let them eat cake".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2006

    Stefan Zweig at his best

    This biography is a refreshing and well researched take on Queen Marie Antoinette. Zweig shows us first the woman then the queen. He is objective in his opinion about her, describing a young girl victim of political machinations and a decadent court, but also vain and superficial with no interest in using her position for anything of substance. We see her as a humiliated wife, unable to bear chldren at first because of a phisical defect in her husband. And then as a mother full of love for her children. The story surprises us with a very human display of the family. Zweig narrates well known moments of the french revolution with passion but also so objectibly you almost consider the possibility of a different outcome. The dignity with which the doomed Queen accepts her destiny is a well deserved tribute to this woman who has so often been caricaturised, we finally see her as a plain character in an extraordinay place in history. Zweig´s sense of irony gives the story a perspective that make´s it unique.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2005

    Stands the test of time very well.

    Dating from 1933 in its first edition, this book is part biography and part psychological analysis of the great Austrian Empress Maria Theresa's daughter who died a hated Queen of France. While both its writing style and its ideas - particularly its author's assumptions about the fundamental nature of womanhood - may seem quaint to the 21st Century reader, it's still very well worth reading. Zweig refuses to rely upon a number of commonly used sources that he has reason to consider suspect, and he approaches his subject with genuine interest that's refreshingly uncontaminated by awe. The Archduchess Antoinette, the Dauphiness of France, the giddy young Queen to Louis XVI, the maturing mother of the Dauphin who would have become Louis XVII - Zweig captures them all, and then takes us with him through this woman's terrible final transformation into the prematurely white-haired 'Widow Capet' who mounts the scaffold. He writes her life with frankness that's remarkable, truly, considering the era in which his work was originally published.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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