Memoirs of Marguerite de Valois — Volume 2 [Court memoir series]

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Produced by David Widger. He participated in numerous military expeditions on the Burgundian and the English sides during the years Agincourt, the crusade against Prague in , the siege of Calais, and others. But this same introduction reveals the complexity of this largely polyphonic form of speech. Bertrand VI, Count of Auvergne [] IX, p. Reserved for La Tulipe Noire, by Unknown.

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Page and Company Page and Company, Court Memoir Series. Complete in one volume. Bright red boards with full cover gilt borders and titling. Cover is still bright but some modest sooiling from shelf wear. Spine is faded but gilt titling and design still clear. The Memoirs tell how Marguerite became prudent, how she learned to apply the virtue that she had observed - a virtue that required an ability both to act and to reflect on these actions, that obliged her to consider the role the role played by time, and that articulated internal life to external behavior.

In the process, she questioned the possibility of faithfully representing individuals through writing and, going further, called into doubt the Neo-Platonic model positing a correspondence between interior and exterior, a model upon which the Valois monarchy relied. The problem of representation occurs as a fundamental motif in of these memoirs which place the question of self-representation in the context of the codes of political and social representation.

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The Valois understood their exercise of power within a Neo-Platonic framework in which politics was an imitation of cosmic harmony. To rule was at once a public relations exercise and a dream, one which the events from the s until the end of the century proved to be cruelly ill-founded.

The reality of human action was grounded in pragmatic approach that derived, at best, from Aristotle and, at worst, from Machiavelli himself, or even from a French reception of Machiavelli that had twisted his thought into a polemical weapon for use against Catherine and her children. In the Memoirs , Marguerite offers the self-portrait of someone shaped by experience and by a learning process that led her to uncouple appearances from reality.

In the process, she paradoxically discovered within herself the dualities that writing allowed her to express. They interrogate the correspondence between being and appearance and question the unity of being over time. The Neo-Platonic notion of representation, according to which a beautiful appearance corresponds to an unchanging nature, does not convey the truth of being. The Memoirs paint a portrait of their author engaged in a kind of apprenticeship, which allows her little by little to recognise the prudence of the political players around her, but which also permits her to partially adopt this virtue, if not politically, at least insofar as it enriches into her literary style.

The claim to truth, which governs the book, conflicts with the complex relationship between interiority and exteriority. The Memoirs are not content to record facts and observable data; they map out the internal space in which decisions are made and feelings are born, and they seek in various ways to describe the relationship between these two spheres. This experience is fundamental to the pragmatics of politics, but it is also more universal, and in this sense shapes identity.

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Furthermore, Protestantism questioned the link between religion and forms of observance. Beginning with the depiction of childhood, each section deals with one or another aspect of this question. The next episode p. The episode that follows p. On the other hand, it has a very definite historical significance The description concludes with her recalling a storm that put an end to the party. Marguerite depicts it in this way:. It thus reaffirms the power of the celebration organized by the Valois, all the while underlining the vanity involved.

According to historians, the range of details recalled by Marguerite reflects her understanding of the political stakes involved in these spectacles The subtle opposition between nature and Fortune links this episode to those that precede it, as well as to the incipit. The text thus takes its place as part of a narrative in which each section involves the problem of representation.

In three movements, Marguerite shows the prudence displayed by Catherine and Henri in their use of words, the feelings of each member of the family and the instrumental function that the family as a whole is forced to fulfill.

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Marguerite plays on the different registers of representation in order to show how these registers dictate behavior and how she herself learns little by little to recognise them and no longer simply to endure their effects. The series of episodes leading up to the wedding and the Saint Bartholomew massacre heighten these effects. She follows in the footsteps of Commynes, who drew pragmatic and moral lessons from his observation of history. The interpretative model she proposes is similar to certain modern analyses of the French court as a sphere of representation and of the political use of representation as an instrument of domination, notably those of Norbert Elias 27 and Louis Marin Each episode turns the court into a sphere of display where the great and the good are no longer divine incarnations referred to by the rhetorical device of antonomasia and featured in court parties 31 , but rather actors in a tragi-comedy.

Torn between two models of masculinity as a young child, she was rejected by her brother who considered her at best a reflection of his own worth and an instrument to be used. It makes manifest a repressed subjectivity, far removed from the facade constructed for the purposes of court life. The Queen of Navarre could then speak and assume the choice of this marriage that had been imposed upon her.

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The framing of the narrative and the arrangement of its motifs offer an anthropological and political perspective that shows how difficult it is for the individuals to construct themselves in a world where taking on an identity amounts to disappearing. Over the course of these episodes, the Memoirs tell of a growing gap between inward being and the world and the emergence of a subjectivity suspicious of appearances. Reading allows us to discover the Good and to recognise God within ourselves.

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Marguerite explains of how her captivity in the Louvre converted her to reading, which permitted her to detach herself from a universe of deception in order to learn about the world in books and to recognise the innermost self, the home of knowledge and devotion. One episode in particular seems to represent this phenomenon through another mise en abyme.

Marguerite depicts herself with Catherine, who is questioning her about the escape of her brother:. She experiences the powers of language and its capacity to shape the individual in her relationship to others.

Here, Marguerite underscores the disjunction between appearances and inner feelings:.