November 22, 2006

La Princesse de Clèves

The Princess of Cleves by Mme de La Fayette (1634-1693) is regarded as the first modern novel of the french literature. The story takes place in the 16th century, at the Court of Henry the Second. Miss de Chartres, sixteen years old, keep her mind in front of tributes her beauty generates. She marries the Prince of Cleves who touched her by his constancy and love. Shortly after, The Princess of Clèves is introduced to the Duke of Nemours who disturbs her quiet lifestyle... The narration, beyond the Court's glitter, puts in first place the psychological dimension of the characters.

The fact that Marie Laurencin, painter of womanhood, illustrated this book is not an accident. Her distinctive style, made of caring and refined colors, with a purpose more settled on undertone than expressiveness, matches perfectly with this self-restrained love story. The ten etchings, among them the frontispiece, resonate harmoniously with the text of Mme de La Fayette.

Currently at Loliee's Bookshop :
La princesse de Clèves, Paris, Robert Laffont, 1947, in-4, loose leaves, chemise and cover from the publisher. Printed at 300 copies on vélin pur fil du Marais.
Copy containing also a complete set of the etchings in colors by Marie Laurencin.