From the author of the acclaimed Queen of Fashiona brilliant look at the glittering world of turn-of-the-century Paris through the first in-depth study of the three women Proust used to create his supreme fictional character, the Duchesse de Guermantes.
Geneviève Halévy Bizet Straus; Laure de Sade, Comtesse de Adhéaume de Chevigné; and Élisabeth de Riquet de Caraman-Chimay, the Comtesse Greffulhethese were the three superstars of fin-de-siècle Parisian high society who, as Caroline Weber says, "transformed themselves, and were transformed by those around them, into living legends: paragons of elegance, nobility, and style." All well but unhappily married, these women sought freedom and fulfillment by reinventing themselves, between the 1870s and 1890s, as icons. At their fabled salons, they inspired the creativity of several generations of writers, visual artists, composers, designers, and journalists. Against a rich historical backdrop, Weber takes the reader into these women's daily lives of masked balls, hunts, dinners, court visits, nights at the opera or theater. But we see as well the loneliness, rigid social rules, and loveless, arranged marriages that constricted these women's lives. Proust, as a twenty-year-old law student in 1892, would worship them from afar, and later meet them and create his celebrated composite character for The Remembrance of Things Past.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.80(d)|
About the Author
CAROLINE WEBER is a professor of French and Comparative Literature at Barnard College, Columbia University; she has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton. She is the author of Queen of Fashion: What Marie-Antoinette Wore to the Revolution (2006) She has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Financial Times, London Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, and New York magazine. She lives in New York City.
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Table of Contents
Overture: Like a Swan 1
1 Rara Avis (June 2, 1885) 21
Leitmotif: Pretty Birds 45
2 My Don Giovanni, My Faust 46
3 The Kingdom of Shadows 83
Habanera: Oiseaux Rebelles 117
4 Bohemia's Child 118
5 The Fall and the Rise 159
6 Good for the Goose 187
Improvisation: Trills and Feathers 202
7 The Art of Being Seen 203
Bagatelle: Birdsong 242
8 Prince Charming 243
9 Paris High and Low 267
10 A Modern-Day Aramis 288
Chorale: Lovebirds 309
11 The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet 310
12 Lame Ducks 329
Variations: Caged Birds 349
13 Kisses Never Given 350
14 Fodder for Sonnets 386
15 Birds of Paradise 403
16 The Picture of Mme Bizet 415
Cadenza: Painters, Writers, Parrots, Prophets 439
17 Elegance for Beginners 440
18 Our Heart 454
Pavane: Pair-Bonding 473
19 In Which Proust Is Disappointed 474
Lament: Oiseaux Tristes 479
20 Dead Love, Still Undying 481
21 The Replacements 508
22 Goddesses and Monsters 518
23 So Long as the Gesture Is Beautiful 532
24 Sovereigns of Transitory Things (May 30, 1894) 546
Rondo: The Real King of Birds, Or Vive Le Roitelet 571
Coda: Swan Song 572
Appendix A Author's Note 577
Appendix B Timeline of Political Régime Changes in France, 1792-1870 579
Appendix C Proust as Social Columnist 581
Works Consulted 669
Illustration Credits 699