The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette

The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette

by Chantal Thomas
     
 

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In The Wicked Queen, Chantal Thomas presents the history of the mythification of one of the most infamous queens in all history, whose execution still fascinates us today. Almost as soon as Marie-Antoinette, archduchess of Austria, was brought to France as the bride of Louis XVI in 1771, she was smothered in images. In a monarchy increasingly under assault, the…  See more details below

Overview

In The Wicked Queen, Chantal Thomas presents the history of the mythification of one of the most infamous queens in all history, whose execution still fascinates us today. Almost as soon as Marie-Antoinette, archduchess of Austria, was brought to France as the bride of Louis XVI in 1771, she was smothered in images. In a monarchy increasingly under assault, the charm and horror of her feminine body and her political power as a foreign intruder turned Marie-Antoinette into an alien other. Marie-Antoinette's mythification, argues Thomas, must be interpreted as the misogynist demonization of women's power and authority in revolutionary France.

In a series of pamphlets written from the 1770s until her death in 1793, Marie-Antoinette is portrayed as a spendthrift, a libertine, an orgiastic lesbian, and a poisoner and infant murderess. In her analyses of these pamphlets, seven of which appear here in translation for the first time, Thomas reconstructs how the mounting hallucinatory and libelous discourse culminated in the inevitable destruction of what had become the counterrevolutionary symbol par excellence. The Wicked Queen exposes the elaborate process by which the myth of Marie-Antoinette emerged as a crucial element in the successful staging of the French Revolution.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Ignore the subtitle at your peril! This is strictly a study of the portrayal of Marie-Antoinette in contemporary propaganda pamphlets, particularly those emphasizing her supposed sexual proclivities. This unique approach produces some thought-provoking points. Whether the subject warrants a book-length study is, however, questionable. Thomas, the author of two studies of libertinage published in France, argues that these pamphlets do not reflect the reality of the queen's conduct. This is self-evident in our sophisticated age and was probably fairly apparent even in the 18th century. The book is filled out with digressions, a useful chronology of Marie-Antoinette's life, an annotated cast of characters, and reprints of seven of the pamphlets. The tone is uneven, mixing obscure sociological jargon with the crudest street language. Recommended only for the largest academic or research libraries collecting in French history or propaganda.--Jean E.S. Storrs, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780942299397
Publisher:
Zone Books
Publication date:
05/14/1999
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Chantal Thomas is a researcher at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. She is the author of Marquis de Sade: L'Oeil de la lettre (1978) and Casanova: Un Voyage libertin (1985).

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