Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman

Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman


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Life at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette has long captivated readers, drawn by accounts of the intrigues and pageantry that came 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, her 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.
"Certainly no one can arise unmoved from the reading of this powerful work." -- The New Republic
"Excellent biography." -- The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802139092
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 07/28/2002
Series: Grove Great Lives Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 476
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

A Child Marriage3
Secret of the Alcove20
Debut at Versailles32
Fight for a Word42
Conquest of Paris59
The King Is Dead, Long Live the King!68
Portrait of a Royal Couple76
Queen of the Rococo89
The New Society116
A Fraternal Visit125
The Queen Becomes Unpopular144
A Thunderclap in the Rococo Theatre156
The Diamond Necklace170
Trial and Sentence187
The People and the Queen Awaken200
The Decisive Summer208
Friends Desert217
The Friend Appears226
Was He or Was He Not?237
The Last Night in Versailles248
The Hearse of the Monarchy258
Preparations for Escaps288
The Flight to Varennes298
The Night in Varennes308
Return to Paris314
Reciprocal Deception323
The Friend's Last Appearance332
Flight into War342
Last Cries350
The Tenth of August356
The Temple367
Marie Antoinette Alone381
Final Solitude389
The Conciergerie401
A Last Endeavour408
The Supreme Infamy416
Preliminary Examination427
On Trial before the Revolutionary Tribunal434
Drive to the Scaffold448
The Keening455
Chronological Table462

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Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
visotoo More than 1 year ago
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".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.