It is the first French novel and already modern--and particularly French--in its depth of psychological analysis, its purity of language and classical simplicity of plot. Set at the court of Henri II, it explores the tragic dilemma of the vivacious and beautiful Mme de Cleves, a woman offered happiness by her loving husband but compelled to reject it. Her love for the Duc de Nemours proves a passion more powerful than any desire for happiness.
Robin Buss in his introduction calls The Princesse de Cleves 'a romance against love�a "preliminary sketch" for Proust at least in its concept of love as inseparable from anguish'. His new translation catches the spirit and charm of the original.