.4% Well-Read

I just finished the Princess of Cleves, which was one of those 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die. I picked it because it is supposed to be the first European Novel, published in 1678, and it was available on DailyLit.

While I’m sure that back in 1678, this was a welcome and popular read, I can’t say that it’s held up to the test of time. The writing isn’t particularly brilliant and the plot of court intrigued and doomed love among nobles was tedious.

Perhaps important to read if you were studying the history of the Novel, but simply as a book to enjoy, there is nothing to recommend it.

.4% Well-Read

2 thoughts on “.4% Well-Read

  1. Mike Bevel says:

    I just posted to my own blog about “The Princess of Cleves” — and your post here showed up as a possible “further reading” option. I’m sorry you didn’t like it very much. I just read it and found it…okay, tedious in places, yeah; but I also found it heartbreaking, and once I stopped thinking about it as a 21st-century reader, and started thinking about what Lafayette was saying about love (her argument seems to be that the only perfect love is unrequited; that all other attempts at love are simply mercenary, as in the case of Diane de Poitiers and Henry II, or dishonest, as in the case of…oh…what’s her name. Tournon? The lady who said she’d marry one guy while really wanting to marry the other guy? Anyway: that.) I found it sort of iconoclastic and much more interesting than I thought it was going to be when I was slogging through all of the Court characters at the beginning.

    Anyway, drop me a line about the book if you feel up to it at all.


  2. cransell says:

    I guess that was also part of my dislike – what Lafayette was saying about love. I don’t think that the only perfect love is unrequited. In fact, I would say that unrequited love is by definition imperfect or at least incomplete – but I do think that that belief is reflective of that time (and earlier), especially among the nobility. Look at all those knights dying for the love of their “lady”.


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