They make house calls…



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Flowers and Fruit, 1899 - Louis Valtat
Flowers and Fruit par Louis Valtat, 1899 (

I apologize for not posting more frequently. First, someone is reading my posts as I write them. He or she may have the best intentions. Still, I have always worked alone. Although I have read and continue to read books and articles on Molière and insert quotations in learned articles, I usually present a significantly personal analysis of Molière.

It seems, however, that I may henceforth publish shorter posts. Last Wednesday, I tried to do some online banking. However, the company has created a new and safer version of its online tools. I followed the instructions, and a message appeared confirming that all was well. However, I could not log in.

So I phoned the company and waited for a few minutes until someone was available, but I started to cry when a young man answered. Technologies are a genuine obstacle, and technical problems may trigger a vulnerability. At any rate, within a few minutes, two large policemen were inside my apartment. I put on my mask, and we spoke.

I mentioned that my cat had died on 29 November 2019 and that it would soon be a year since he died. Moreover, I had been inside my apartment since March, avoiding the coronavirus. As well, in the space of three years, I had failed to settle in my apartment. Finally, Sherbrooke is now a red zone. One cannot call a carpenter, until a degree of safety has been reached. Who would help during a pandemic?

One of the policemen suggested I adopt a cat, and one offered to remove a heavy box from the hallway. They were good persons. I thanked them because I felt much better. It had been an accident.

One returns to life as usual, a narrower life because of Covid-19, but life.

However, I reflected that in the days of the coronavirus, if a citizen of Sherbrooke, Quebec, feels distraught, his or her best help could be the police. They are available twenty-four hours a day and they make house calls.

Love to everyone 💕

Afficher l’image source
Anemones and Green Jug by Louis Valtat, ca. 1926 (courtesy Art Resource, NY)

© Micheline Walker
20 November 2020

Chronicling Covid-19 (7): The Plan



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I would invite you to reread the article I posted yesterday.

I have not changed my mind. I believe that we have to test people and let the healthy return to the workplace. Self-isolation alone will not keep us safe. Not if we can no longer work and earn a living. There is no overnight miracle, but testing may allow the economy to recover more quickly.

Testing is much easier than discovering a vaccine. As I mentioned yesterday, there is an American group who is working with doctors and scientists and would send the healthy back to a safe workplace. Testing would be needed.

A vaccine will be produced, but it may not be produced in the foreseeable future, luck being a factor. Who will come up with the brilliant idea that will allow a cure and also allow the world to be as it should be. We can now see the magnificent Himalayan range of mountains.

Leaders, doctors and scientists must work together, but expertise must inform decisions made by elected officials. Mr Trump is ready to send people back to work to save the economy. But we cannot allow people who test positive to return to work. They must still self-isolate, or the pandemic will continue.

A Triage: Testing

What I am suggesting is a triage that would separate the healthy from the sick and allow those who test negative to return to work. The sick would be treated, but the healthy would keep the economy alive. We have new tools: Skype, etc. Although humanity has been scourged for millennia, it has survived.

I have a healthy nephew whose employees are healthy, but they are not allowed to work. So why do we not test them? Testing was carried out in Germany quite successfully.

We cannot close the future down. We cannot let massive unemployment follow the pandemic. That is a grim scenario. Scientists would continue to search for a vaccine, but the economy would not crumble. Testing may be difficult to organize, but it has to be organized. There is no other way.

Expertise is what world leaders need. I do not wish to trivialize world leaders, but they need guidance from doctors, scientists and economists, which is leadership in the days of the novel coronavirus.

Streets would still be disinfected as well as the workplace, but we would ensure economic stability and lift the world’s morale. Can we truly justify the self-isolation of my nephew and his healthy employees?

I am not a medical doctor, a scientist, or an economist. I am quite simply civic-minded. If we test and test, we will find those who test negative. I’m scared, because this virus may be airborne. Hence cleaning the workplace. But why isolate people who would test negative and create a new nightmare.


The Creation
, Die Schöpfung, by Joseph Haydn


Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States.

© Micheline Walker
12 April 2020








Molière’s “L’Avare:” Doublings



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L’Avare by François Boucher (drawing) and Laurent Cars (engraving) (Photo credit: Pinterest)


  • Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BCE)
  • commedia dell’arte
  • French 17th-century misers: sources
  • Hellenic (ancient Greek) sources
  • French medieval farces and fabliaux
  • translations into English

As indicated in a previous post, Molière‘s L’Avare, The Miser, was first performed on 9 September 1668 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. It is a five-act play, in prose, inspired by Roman dramatist Plautus‘ (254 – 148 BCE) Aulularia, the Pot of Gold. As we have seen, it is also rooted in the commedia dell’arte as well as Italian comedies and tales, and in France’s own medieval farces and the largely scatological fabliaux.

However, Molière also drew his material from La Belle Plaideuse (1655), by François le Métel de Boisrobert, which features a father-as-usurer, and Jean Donneau de Visé‘s La Mère coquette (1665), where a father and son are in love with the same woman.[1]

L’Avare is one of Molière’s better-known comedies and it was translated into English by Thomas Shadwell (1772) and Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones. However, it was not a huge success in Molière’s own days. It has been speculated that Molière’s audience expected a play written in verse, the nobler alexandrine verse (12 feet or syllables), first used in the twelfth-century Roman d’Alexandre.


L’Avare (

The dramatis personæ is:

Harpagon, father to Cléante, in love with Mariane.
Cléante, Harpagon’s son, lover to Marianne.
Valère, son to Anselme, lover to Élise, and “intendant” to Harpagon
Anselme / Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, father to Valère and Mariane, and 
Master Simon, broker.
Master Jacques, cook and coachman to Harpagon.
La Flèche, valet to Cléante.
Brindavoine, and La Merluche, lackeys to Harpagon.
A Magistrate and his Clerk.
Élise, daughter to Harpagon.
Mariane, daughter to Anselme.
Frosine, an intriguing woman.
Mistress Claude, servant to Harpagon.

The scene is at Paris, in Harpagon’s house.

Act One

We will be focusing on the manner in which the young couples featured in the Miser, L’Avare, manage to overcome the obstacle to their marriage. Short of a miracle, they are condemned to do as their father’s greed dictates. All the elements of L’Avare’s plot are introduced in the first act of the play, which reflects the Græco-Roman origins of comedy and tragedy. As a five-act play, Molière’s L’Avare is a ‘grande comédie,’ not a farce (Molière wrote both), and its plot is the archetypal struggle, also called the agôn, between, on the one hand, the alazṓn of Greek comedy, or the blocking character, and, on the other hand, the eirôn, the young couple and their supporters: valets, maids, zanni. In other words, it is a traditional blondin-berne-barbon plot. The young couples will succeed in marrying.

A Comedy of Manners and A Comedy of Intrigue

  • doublings: two young couples and two fathers
  • Harpagon is the father of Élise and Cléante
  • Anselme is Valère and Mariane’s father, which we do not know until the fifth act (V. v) of the comedy

L’Avare is both a comedy of manners, a form we inherited mostly from Greek dramatist Menander, and a comédie d’intrigue, a comedy where the plot prevails. As the portrayal of a miser, L’Avare is a comedy of manners (see the full text in Wikisource and eBook #6923). Harpagon’s greed constitutes the obstacle to the marriage of Cléante (Harpagon) and Mariane as well as the marriage of Valère and Élise (Harpagon).

Cléante gambles and wins, which allows him to buy elegant clothes and court Mariane, but he does not have sufficient money to marry and must therefore go to a moneylender. Ironically, the moneylender happens to be Harpagon himself who demands no less than the now metaphorical “pound of flesh” (Shylock) as repayment. The moneylender episode—act two, scene two (II. i) [II. 2]—shows to what extent Harpagon’s greed is an obstacle to the marriage of our young couples. The plot advances in that Cléante cannot obtain a loan that might enable his marriage. Another “trick” must be devised. However, plot and manners (greed) are inextricably woven.

Obstacles to Two Marriages

  • “genre” art
  • a family tyrant

The action takes place in Harpagon’s house in Paris and can be described as genre arta depiction of ordinary people engaged in ordinary activities. Will G Moore has remarked that Molière’s characters

“[a]re concerned with everyday life; the stuff of which it was made was by tradition the doings of ordinary people in ordinary surroundings.”[2]

L’Avare is a five-act comedy, but it is written in prose, not verse, and Harpagon, our blocking character, is an enriched bourgeois. Although he does not feed his horse properly, he owns a carriage and he has servants. As depicted by François Boucher, the interior of his house is rather elegant. However, he is extremely greedy and he behaves as though he owned his children. He is a domestic tyrant. In act one, Harpagon states that he has arranged for his children to marry, but has not consulted them. Cléante will marry a “certain widow,” our tyrant has just heard of, and Élise will be “given” to Mr. Anselme, a gentleman who will not request the customary dowry, or “sans dot

Quant à ton frère, je lui destine une certaine veuve dont ce matin on m’est venu parler; et, pour toi, je te donne au seigneur Anselme. (Harpagon to Élise, [I. iv])
[As to your brother, I have thought for him of a certain widow, of whom I heard this morning; and you I shall give to Mr. Anselme. [1. 6] [eBook #6923]

Élise does not know Mr Anselme and refuses to marry him, threatening to commit suicide. As for Harpagon, he plans to marry Mariane, who loves his son (Cléante). For Harpagon, Mr Anselme is a perfect choice because Élise will marry at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. iv FR) (I. 6 EN) 

Harpagon’s Rigidity

Valère will attempt to save Élise from a marriage to a person other than himself. Valère, Harpagon’s “intendant,” begs Harpagon to free Élise. However, the objections he presents are followed by Harpagon’s “sans dot” (without a dowry). Molière’s blocking characters are inflexible or rigid. This rigidity is the feature Henri Bergson (18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941) attached to the comical or comedic in his Laughter. Valère’s objections having been rebuked by a litany of “sans dot,” he is literally speechless. He simply repeats what the Harpagon, the miser, has told him:

Lorsqu’on s’offre de prendre une fille sans dot, on ne doit point regarder plus avant. Tout est renfermé là-dedans, et sans dot tient lieu de beauté, de jeunesse, de naissance, d’honneur, de sagesse, et de probité. (Valère à Harpagon, I. v)
[When a man offers to marry a girl without a dowry, we ought to look no farther. Everything is comprised in that, and “without dowry” compensates for want of beauty, youth, birth, honour, wisdom, and probity.] (I. 10[eBook #6923]

But there is some hope. As the story goes, Valère’s father, Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, is believed to have drowned when he and his family (his wife, Valère and Mariane) were fleeing Naples. It appears, however, that Dom Thomas has survived and that he is a man of means. Valère was looking for him when he met Élise. At her request, he decided to stay near her and made himself Harpagon’s “intendant,” but someone else is looking for Valère’s father.

Mais enfin, si je puis, comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. J’en attends des nouvelles avec impatience, et j’en irai chercher moi-même, si elles tardent à venir. (I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us. I am expecting news of them with great impatience; but if none comes I will go in search of them myself.] [I.1]

The curtain will then fall on an anagnorisis  (V. v) [V. 5], a recognition scene. However, when Anselme enters Harpagon’s house and hears that there is opposition to the contract he has come to sign, he tells Harpagon that he will not coerce a woman into a mariage, which frees Élise. He also remarks that he will not “lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself,” thereby allowing Mariane, his daughter, to marry Cléante, Harpagon’s son, rather than Harpagon.

Ce n’est pas mon dessein de me faire épouser par force, et de rien prétendre à un cœur qui se serait donné ; mais pour vos intérêts, je suis prêt à les embrasser ainsi que les miens propres. (Anselme to Harpagon [V. v])
[It is not my intention to force anybody to marry me, and to lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself; but as far as your interests are concerned, I am ready to espouse them as if they were my own.] (V. 5) [eBook #6923]

Anselme seems a fine gentleman whom the anagnorisis (V. v) [V. 5], the dénouement (see Dramatic Structure, Wikipedia), will identify as Valère and Mariane’s father. A greedy Harpagon has chosen Anselme as the perfect groom because Anselme would marry Élise without requesting the customary dowry, or at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. v) [I. 5]


Qu’il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger. (III. i)

A Comedy of Intrigue

  • a plot or intrigue
  • a chiasmus (a mirror image in a sentence)
  • a quiproquo (a misunderstanding)
  • the doubling of the father figure (mirror image)

Harpagon’s greed is enormous, so students are taught that Molière concentrates on manners rather than the plot. He does, but in L’Avare, although the plot is mainly episodic, manners and plot (intrigue) are inextricably linked. For instance, when Harpagon is having a meal prepared to celebrate the marriage(s) that are to take place that very day, Harpagon hears Valère say that il faut manger pour vivre and not vivre pour manger, that one should eat to live and not live to eat, Harpagon so loves Valère’s witty chiasmus, that he wants these words engraved in gold and placed above his fireplace. (III. i) [III. 1] It is unlikely that Harpagon would use gold to celebrate greed, but it is true to character and comical. A meal often ends comedies and may solemnize a wedding.

Moreover, it is a quiproquo, a comical misunderstanding which, in L’Avare, leads to the anagnorisis. When Harpagon realizes his cassette has disappeared and may have been stolen, he loses his composure and accuses Valère, at the instigation of Maître Jacques. Maître Jacques resents the trust Harpagon has placed in Valère. If he could, Harpagon would have Valère drawn and quartered. Valère has not stolen Harpagon’s cassette, but he and Élise have signed a promise to marry another. Valère has ‘robbed’ Harpagon, but it is Élise he has taken, not a cassette. (V. iii & iv) [V. 3 & 4] [eBook #6923]

Anselme first steps foot on the stage as the battle rages. Given Élise’s promise, he cannot and would not marry her. However, Valère stands accused of a theft and wants to tell his story. The anagnorisis has now begun. To give himself credibility, Valère says that he is the son of Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, which Anselme hesitates to believe because he is a friend of Dom Those and, to his knowledge, all members of Dom Thomas’ family drowned as they were trying to flee Naples, which is not the case.Valère says that he was rescued by Pedro, a servant, and later adopted by the captain of the ship he and Pedro were allowed to board. He can prove his identity. As he speaks, Mariane realizes that Valère is her brother.

For their part, Mariane and her mother were also saved, but their helpers were corsaires, pirates, who enslaved them. Following ten years of enslavement, they were released and they returned to Naples where they could not find Dom Thomas d’Alburcy. They therefore picked up a small inheritance in Genoa and moved to Paris. Mariane’s mother is Valère’s  mother and Dom Thomas d’Alburcy’s wife. As he watches this scene, Dom Thomas learns that no member of his family died leaving Naples. He has just found his children and his wife. He would not stand in the way of Valère and Mariane’s marriage who wish to marry Harpagon’s children. Le sieur Anselme knows le sieur Harpagon.

Le Ciel, mes enfants, ne me redonne point à vous, pour être contraire à vos vœux. Seigneur Harpagon, vous jugez bien que le choix d’une jeune personne tombera sur le fils plutôt que sur le père. Allons, ne vous faites point dire ce qu’il n’est point nécessaire d’entendre, et consentez ainsi que moi à ce double hyménée. (V. v)

[Heaven, my dear children, has not restored you to me that I might oppose your wishes. Mr. Harpagon, you must be aware that the choice of a young girl is more likely to fall upon the son than upon the father. Come, now, do not force people to say to you what is unnecessary, and consent, as I do, to this double marriage.] [V. 5] [eBook #6923]


Molière’s L’Avare has an intrigue which resembles the intrigue of most comedies. A young couple wishes to marry, but a blocking character, or alazṓnprevents their marriage. However, Molière has doubled the young couple who are a brother and sister wishing to marry a brother and a sister, so Molière has therefore doubled the father figure which happens during the anagnorisis. As Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, Anselme is the eirôn who allows the young couples to marry.

The anagnorisis, the recognition scene, does not take place unannounced. As mentioned earlier, as he despairs,Valère tells Élise that he hopes to find his father who may still be alive. Act one (I. i) [I. 1] has prepared the reader or spectator:

Mais enfin, si je puis comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. (Valère à Élise, I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us.] [I. 1] [eBook #6923]


Der Geizigue, Harpagon & La Flèche by August Wilhelm Iffland, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In L’Avare, Molière does not use a deus ex machina. He simply introduces a second father figure who will allow the young couples to marry and will pay all costs. L’Avare‘s young couple are in fact very resourceful, but one cannot marry without money. Mariane (Dom Thomas) recoils at wishing Harpagon’s death, feelings that are reciprocated by Cléante (Harpagon).

Mon Dieu, Frosine, c’est une étrange affaire, lorsque pour être heureuse, il faut souhaiter ou attendre le trépas de quelqu’un, et la mort ne suit pas tous les projets que nous faisons. (Mariane à Frosine, III. iv)
[Oh, Frosine! What a strange state of things that, in order to be happy, we must look forward to the death of another. Yet death will not fall in with all the projects we make.] [III. 8] [eBook #6923]

Que veux-tu que j’y fasse ? Voilà où les jeunes gens sont réduits par la maudite avarice des pères ; et on s’étonne après cela que les fils souhaitent qu’ils meurent. (II. i)
[What would you have me do? It is to this that young men are reduced by the accursed avarice of their fathers; and people are astonished after that, that sons long for their death.] [II. 1] [eBook #6923]

When his father falls, accidentally, Cléante is worried:

Qu’est-ce, mon père, vous êtes-vous fait mal ? (III. ix)
[What’s the matter, father? Have you hurt yourself?] [III. 14] [eBook #6923]

Critic Northrop Frye states that “[t]he tendency of comedy is to include as many people as possible in its final society: the blocking characters are more often reconciled or converted than simply repudiated.”[3]

As for Harpagon, although he may he has been tyrannical, when Dom Thomas and the young couples leave to bring good news to Dom Thomas’ wife, Harpagon is off to see his dear cassette. His cassette, a casket, his vital to Harpagon.

Et moi, voir ma chère cassette. (I. vi)
[And I to see my dear casket.][1. 6] [eBook #6923]


I have already suggested that Molière uses doubling and fusion of functions.[4] Harpagon is a miser and will remain a miser ready to sacrifice his children. It is a sad reflection on humanity but perhaps less sad than the intervention of a deus ex machina. Dom Thomas d’Alburcy is a  major member of the play’s society, the intervention of a second father figure allows the happy ending the play demands. An anagnorisis may not be as dazzling a dénouement as the intervention of a deus ex machina, the prince in Tartuffe and a godlike figure in Dom Juan, but all’s well that ends well. 

Love to everyone



Commedia dell’arte


Sources and Resources

The Miser is a Wikisource eBook (Charles Heron Wall, translator)
The Miser is an Internet Archive publication EN
The Miser is a Project Gutenberg publication [eBook #6923] EN
The Miser, Henri Fielding is an eText EN
L’Avare is a publication FR
Molière21 is a research group
Le Salon littéraire FR
The Miser is a LibriVox text publication (YouTube)
Laughter, Henri Bergson is an Internet Archive publication EN

[1] L’Avare in Maurice Rat, Œuvres complètes de Molière (Paris : Éditions Gallimard, coll. La Pléiade, 1956), p. 968.
[2] Will  G. Moore, Molière, a New Criticism (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1968 [1949], pp. 69-70.
[3] Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1957]), p. 165.
[4] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « Le Misanthrope, ou la comédie éclatée, » in David Trott & Nicole Boursier, eds. L’Âge du théâtre en France (Edmonton, Alberta: Academic Printing and Publishing, 1988 ), 53 – 63. (papers from a conference held in Toronto, May 14 – 16, 1987) ISBN 0-920980-30-9 — PQ527.A33 1988

The Miser


L’Avare by Jean Degrassi, 1955 (

© Micheline Walker
1 December 2016

La Princesse de Clèves, 7


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Henry II mortally wounded by Count of Montgomery in a tournament of the rue de Saint-Antoine, 30 June 1559. On the occasion of double marriage between Élisabeth of France with Philippe II of Spain and between Marguerite of France, Henry II’s sister, and the Duke de Savoie. HII: King of France from 1547 to his death. 1519 – 1559. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)
The 1st Earl of Montgomery (

The Predictions

I did not intend to write more than six posts on La Princesse de Clèves and wrote at the end of post 5 that post 6 would be my final post on a very complex novel. I have erased that brief sentence. When my posts are long, they are cropped.

We are therefore looking at the predictions episode (Part Two). It was included in a post that was shortened.

Henri II told courtiers that an astrologer predicted he would be killed in a duel. Kings do not engage in duels, so this prophecy was dismissed. However, given that Nostradamus was at the court of Henri II in 1555 when his book of prophecies was published, the astrologer is Nostradamus and the prophecy relevant. Henri II did not die in a duel, but he was fatally injured jousting. His opponent Gabriel de Lorges, the 1st Earl of Montgomery (Montgommery in French), the captain of the King’s Scots Guard, threw a lance that penetrated the King’s right eye. A splinter entered the King’s brain. Nothing could be done to save his life. However, Ambroise Paré, Henri II’s doctor is featured in Alexandre Dumas père‘s Les Deux Diane, The Two Dianas, one of whom is Diane de Poitiers, Henri II’s mistress.

Henri II was in a festive mood, so grandeur and magnificence would characterize his celebration of the forthcoming marriages. Both were marriages of state negotiated when the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis was signed, on 3 April 1559, or ensuring the end of a 65-year conflict. Élisabeth de France was to marry Philip II of Spain, and Marguerite, Duchesse de Berry, Elisabeth’s aunt, was to wed Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy. Earlier in her life, Marguerite nearly married Philip II.

The King of France could not be saved, but he was conscious for several days after sustaining his fatal injury. So, fearing that Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy would renege on marrying his sister, Marguerite de Valois, Duchesse de Berry, the dying King ordered that the wedding take place as soon as possible. Marguerite married Emmanuel Philibert on 9 July 1559 and the venue was Saint-Paul Church, not Notre-Dame de Paris. Henri II died the following day, on 10 July 1559, and his death was a terrible loss.

Henri II was forty years old when he died. The new king, however, was fifteen-year-old François II who had recently married Marie Stuart, the Queen-Dauphine. Marie Stuart was raised at the court of France because her marriage was arranged during early chilhood. François II died of a middle-ear infection and an abscess in the brain on 5 December 1560, having reigned since 10 July 1559. Ambroise Paré could not cure him. Marie was disconsolate. She and François had been friends from the moment they met.

Predictions tend to confirm predestination. They suggest that one has no power over one’s destiny. Madame de La Fayette’s novel has been associated with Jansenism. The Princess of Clèves tries to control l’amour fatal by staying away from court. As for the Prince, he is so jealous that he hires a gentleman to follow the Duc de Nemours to a house they had recently built at Coulommiers. (Part Four) The gentleman sees the Duc enter the garden two evenings in a row. He sees the Princess in a pavilion. She is looking at a portrait of a battle in which he fought. She caresses a cane, which so moves him that he sheds a few tears. Was eroticism ever this subtle? Sensing a presence, she enters the house. He visits the following night, but all is dark.

The Prince de Clèves will not listen to the gentleman’s full report, but he believes the Princesse. The Duc de Nemours went to the garden, paradise, at Coulommiers. She sensed a presence and left the Pavilion where she stood, but the Duc de Nemours did not enter the house. She did not spend two nights with the Duc de Nemours. The Prince de Clèves believes his wife, which comforts him. But he lets himself die. Jealousy kills him.

The Prince may feel jealousy. As for Madame the Clèves, the letter (Part Three) made her believe she was betrayed, and she grieved, but was it jealousy? She did not know with whom the Duke had “galanteries” and during the aveu episode (her confession), she refuses to reveal the name of the person she loves. The Duc de Nemours could be harmed by her jealous husband and harming the Duc de Nemours would confirm jealousy, as we know it, and may be otherwise catastrophic. In the letter episode, Madame de Clèves feels betrayed. Her mother was right:

Si vous jugez sur les apparences en ce lieu−ci, répondit madame de Chartres, vous serez souvent trompée : ce qui paraît n’est presque jamais la vérité.
(eBooksgratuits, p. 15)
[If you judge from appearances in a court, replied madam de Chartres, you will often be deceived; truth and appearances seldom go together.]
(Wikisource [15]) (Part One)

Moreover, the Princess loves a man in whose eyes une galanterie is not illicit. The Princess was not brought up as an aristocrat. The discrepancy between their Weltanschauung, or world view, differs tragically. Would that she had met him before marrying the Prince of Cleves:

Pourquoi faut−il, s’écria−t−elle, que je vous puisse accuser de la mort de monsieur de Clèves ? Que n’ai−je commencé à vous connaître depuis que je suis libre, ou pourquoi ne vous ai−je pas connu devant que d’être engagée ? Pourquoi la destinée nous sépare−t−elle par un obstacle si invincible ?
(eBooksgratuits, p. 79)
[Why was it, cries she, that I can charge you with monsieur de Cleves’s death? Why did not my first acquaintance with you begin since I have been at liberty? or why did not I know you before I was engaged? Why does Fate separate us by such invincible obstacles?]
(Wikisource [79]) (Part Four)

Henri II Jousting (


There is so much more to tell, but I believe I must end this post. When Charles IX ascended the throne, he was ten-years old. So Catherine de’ Medici and the very Catholic Guise were at the helm. The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre took place in 1572. Marguerite and the King of Navarre had just married. Marguerite, la reine Margot, protected her husband, the future Henri IV, King of Navarre and France.

Henri II forgave the Earl of Montgomery, but Catherine didn’t. He was executed on another charge on 26 June 1574.


Love to everyone 💕

Portait de Marguerite de France, Duchesse de Berry par François Clouet (Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
19 January 2021

La Princesse de Clèves, 6


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Portrait d’Élisabeth de France, peinture à l’huile d’Antonio Moromusée du Louvre, seconde moitié du XVIe siècle (Photo credit: Wikipedia).
Portrait of Philip II by Titian, c. 1550 (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

Above is a portrait of Élisabeth de Valois, or Élisabeth de France (1545-1568). She was the first daughter born to Henri II of France and Catherine de’ Medici. It had been arranged for her to marry the King of Spain’s son: Carlos. However, the Prince’s father, Philip II, would not sign the long-awaited Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis unless he could marry Élisabeth. She was 14 and died during pregnancy at the age of 23. She had shared a bedroom with Mary Queen of Scots, Marie Stuart, since childhood. Marie Stuart, who married Francis II of France, was brought up in France and is referred to as the Queen-Dauphin. She would be Queen of France after Henri II sustained a serious injury in a tournament. He died on 10 July 1559. Ambroise Paré could not save him.

After constant entreaties, the Princess confesses that she is in love with another man. This scene is called l’aveu, the confession. But she will not say whom she loves. The Prince of Clèves is a bit of a villain. He is increasingly jealous. Madame de Clèves is an aristocrat but she was brought up by a virtuous mother away from the court, or the world. She will not enter into a liaison. Her only defence is to avoid seeing the Duc de Nemours. The Prince de Clèves opposes her wish. He will not accept absences, unless they are short.

La Princesse de Clèves is a realistic novel. In no way can it be associated with lengthy romances such as Honoré d’Urfée‘s L’Astrée, a pastoral, or other anciens romans. Her novel is a petit roman. She was influenced by Marguerite de Navarre’s L’Heptaméron,[1] but her novel is otherwise a roman fondateur, a foundind novel. (See La Princesse de Clèves, Wikipedia). The novel is currently read as a series. It is preceded by La Princesse de Montpensier and followed by La Comtesse de Tende. For the last few years, La Princesse de Montpensier has attracted considerable attention. It is a Franco-German film by Bertrand Tavernier, released in 2010.  

Madame de Clèves’s God is Lucien Goldman’s Dieu Caché, a Hidden God. But Goldman focusses on Blaise Pascal, Jean Racine, and Jansenism.

I apologize for publishing these posts slowly. I reread the novel three times. I am older and life keeps teaching me lessons. As well, my memory is now rather poor. So, I must convert to short posts or end my career as a blogger. The above is not my complete post, but nearly so.


Sources and Resources

La Princesse de Clèves is a Librivox and Internet Archive Publication FR.
La Princesse de Clèves is an Publication FR.
The Princess of Cleves is a Wikisource Publication EN.
La Princesse de Clèves is a Wikisource Publication FR.
La Princesse de Clèves is Gutenberg’s [eBook # 18797] FR.
La Princesse de Clèves is Gutenberg’s [eBook # 467] EN.
La Princesse de Clèves is a Librivox and Internet Archive Publication.

[1] Ellen J. Hunter-Chapco, Theory and Practice of the Petit Roman in France (1656-1683): Segrais, Du Plaisir, Madame de La Fayette, A Bibliographical Guide (Regina: University of Regina, 1977), p. 14 and elsewhere.

Love to everyone 💕

Henri II de France (Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
15 January 2021

La Princesse de Clèves, 5


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La Princesse de Clèves (Gallimard)

Main Characters

  • the Princess of Clèves.
  • Madame de Chartres, the Princess’s mother.
  • the Prince of Clèves, the Princess’s husband.
  • the Duke of Nemours, the man who falls in love with the Princess, illicit love.
  • the Vidame de Chartres who lies to Catherine de Médicis, the Queen.
  • Marie Stuart, the Princess’s friend and the future Queen of France.

Before her death, Madame de Chartres warns her daughter. Appearances are deceptive. This could be looked upon as a lieu commun, a common assumption. In his Pensées, Blaise Pascal also warns that we may be the victims of a deceitful environment. In other words, court is not as it appears. Diane de Poitiers, Duchesse de Valentinois, Henri II’s mistress had been his father’s mistress. For the Princesse de Clèves, these dramas are very real. She and the Duc de Nemours have fallen in love. She knows therefore what kind of sentiments the Prince of Clèves expected of his wife.

Elle vit alors que les sentiments qu’elle avait pour lui étaient ceux que monsieur de Clèves lui avait tant demandés ; elle trouva combien il était honteux de les avoir pour un autre que pour un mari qui les méritait. (ebooks, p 20)
[…she then found, that the sentiments she had for him were such as the Prince of Cleves had required of her; she perceived how shameful it was to entertain them for another man, and not for a husband that deserved them …] Wikisource [32-33])

As we enter Part Two, the Prince of Clèves tells his wife about his friend Sancerre who fell in love with a widowed woman, whose feelings started to change. She had fallen in love with another man, Etouteville (Estouteville). This tale is a long digression on the topic of disloyalty and the pain that ensues. However, we must skip the details and return to La Princesse de Clèves’ main narrative. Madame de Clèves has returned to court, only to learn from the Queen Dauphin that the Duke of Nemours is in love, that he has not told anyone the name of the person he loves, but that his love is so powerful that he has lost interest in marrying Elizabeth of England.

Mais ce que j’ai le plus d’envie de vous apprendre, ajouta−t−elle, c’est qu’il est certain que monsieur de Nemours est passionnément amoureux, et que ses amis les plus intimes, non seulement ne sont point dans sa confidence, mais qu’ils ne peuvent deviner qui est la personne qu’il aime. Cependant cet amour est assez fort pour lui faire négliger ou abandonner, pour mieux dire, les espérances d’une couronne. (eBooksgratuits, p.28)
[she related to her a great many extraordinary things; but what I have the greatest desire to inform you of, added she, is that it is certain the duke de Nemours is passionately in love; and that his most intimate friends are not only not entrusted in it, but can’t so much as guess who the person is he is in love with; nevertheless this passion of his is so strong as to make him neglect, or to speak more properly, abandon the hopes of a crown. (Wikisource [48])

Her husband has spoken, so Madame de Clèves remains at Court, a prey to dangers. Court is hell because she is the woman the Duke loves to the point of losing interest in Elizabeth I of England. By the Duke’s standards, Madame de Clèves may be at fault. But what would life be if she gave in? Allow me to quote my former classmate and colleague, Dr Ellen Hunter-Chapco.

Madame de La Fayette invite son public lecteur à une remise en question du rôle de la femme mariée tel
tel qu’élaboré dans la littérature prescriptive des années 1630 et 1640, et, aussi, à une réflexion sur le décalage entre le statut officiel du mariage et les attentes des femmes de son époque.
[Madame de La Fayette invites her readers to reassess the role of the ill-wedded woman as it develops in the prescriptive literature of the 1630s and 1640s, and, also, to reflect on the discrepancy between the official status of marriage and the expectations of the women of her time.] [1]

See footnote [1]

The Letter

I must end this post. I will discuss l’aveu (the confession) in another post. Moreover, I have left out the tale of Ann Boylen, Elizabeth I of England’s mother. It is a digression and it is not. The letter episode is central. The Queen-Dauphin gives the Princess a letter which, reportedly, fell out of the Duke’s pocket after un jeu de paume, tennis. The letter has been written by a woman who has been betrayed. The grief that arises in the Princess’ mind is the worst of torment.

Jamais affliction n’a été si piquante et si vive : il lui semblait que ce qui faisait l’aigreur de cette affliction était ce qui s’était passé dans cette journée, et que, si monsieur de Nemours n’eût point eu lieu de croire qu’elle l’aimait, elle ne se fût pas souciée qu’il en eût aimé une autre. Mais elle se trompait elle−même ; et ce mal qu’elle trouvait si insupportable était la jalousie avec toutes les horreurs dont elle peut être accompagnée. Elle voyait par cette lettre que monsieur de Nemours avait une galanterie depuis longtemps. (eBooksgratuits, p.38)
[Never was affliction so cutting as hers; she imputed the piercingness of it to what had happened that day; and believed that if the duke de Nemours had not had ground to believe she loved him, she should not have cared whether he loved another or not: but she deceived herself; and this evil which she found so insupportable was jealousy, with all the horrors it can be accompanied with. This letter discovered to her a piece of gallantry the duke de Nemours had been long engaged in.] (Wikisource [68])

The following morning, the Duke goes to see the Princess. The letter did not fall out of his pocket. The letter was written to the Vidame de Chartres who has come to him because the Queen, Catherine de’ Medici, would like him to be her confidant if he is not engaged in a galanterie, an affair. Earlier, he has lied to the Queen.

C’est parce que je vous parle sincèrement, Madame, lui répondis−je, que je n’ai rien à vous dire ; et je jure à Votre Majesté, avec tout le respect que je lui dois, que je n’ai d’attachement pour aucune femme de la cour. (eBooksgratuits, p. 41)
[It is, madam, answered I, because I deal sincerely, that I have nothing more to say; and I swear to your majesty, with all the respect I owe you, that I have no engagement with any woman of the court.] (Wikisource [75])

Madame de Clèves will not speak with the Duke. She thinks that she has been betrayed. Consequently, the Duke of Nemours asks the Prince de Clèves to lead him to Madame de Clèves’ room. The Princess is so broken that she can barely believe the Duke is not the recipient of this letter. She has experienced jealousy and, by the same token, she has discovered that she loved. She and the Duke must rewrite the letter, so no one recognizes the handwriting. These are happy moments, but they cannot last.

[1] Homo narrativus – La cour et le cabinet : l’espace-femme dans La Princesse de Montpensier, La Princesse de Clèves et La Comtesse de Tende de Madame de La Fayette – Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée

Madame de La Fayette,
gravure de 1840 d’après Desrochers.

© Micheline Walker
12 January 2021

Dear Friends,

La Princesse de Clèves (Gallimard)

I finished part five of the Princess de Clèves yesterday afternoon. I was told to use the Classic Editor but was also told to use the Block Editor.

My post did not look as do my other posts. The height of letters was too short. It looked awful.

I decide to rebuild the post using my Word backup, but I lost a quotation. Monsieur de Nemours tells a prediction to Madame de Clèves. Something went wrong in Word. I went back to the novel, but could not find my quotation.

After several hours, I turned off the computer. The post is in the trash, including a new post I was building to replace the original post.

I think WordPress is telling me to write very short posts. Moreover, my computer is unstable and given the pandemic, it cannot be repaired.

We are in confinement and we must observe a curfew. Life ends at 8 pm or 20 hours.

I am truly sorry.

Love to everyone. 💕

Madame de La Fayette

© Micheline Walker
13 January 2021

La Princesse de Clèves, 4


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Madame de La Fayette,
gravure de 1840 d’après Desrochers.

We know the immediate historical background of the Princesse de Clèves, and I have suggested intertextuality. Marguerite de Navarre’s L’Heptaméron features intrigues and disloyalty at court. But the discourse on love takes us back to the ancient Roman poet Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, and it may have antecedents such as extremely distant fairytales. These will be refined in seventeenth-century French salons. Charles Perrault’s Tales of Mother Goose are “re-told” tales.

However, let us return to our narrative. The Princess of Cleves and the Duc de Nemours have fallen in love. It is the coup de foudre, or love at first sight, à première vue. In Jansenist France, this is l’amour fatal, as fatal as Tristan’s love for Iseult and Iseult’s love for Tristan, but without recourse to a magical potion. They have seen one another and fallen in love. But the Princess of Clèves has married and she has been taught loyalty to one’s husband. A liaison with the Duc de Nemours would be illicit. Therefore, she must suppress and hide her feelings, which is not possible.

The Mareschal de St. André’s Second Ball

The mareschal de St. André’s will host a second ball which the Princess is expected to attend. However, after hearing that the Duc de Nemours would not want his mistress to attend a ball he is not hosting, she feigns illness not to attend the ball. She has betrayed herself.  

Vous voilà si belle, lui dit madame la dauphine, que je ne saurais croire que vous ayez été malade. Je pense que monsieur le prince de Condé, en vous contant l’avis de Nemours sur le bal, vous a persuadée que vous feriez une faveur au maréchal de Saint-André d’aller chez lui que vous feriez une faveur au maréchal de Saint-André d’aller chez lui, et que c’est ce qui vous a empêchée d’y venir. Madame de Clèves rougit de ce que madame la dauphine devinait si juste, et de ce qu’elle disait devant monsieur de Nemours ce qu’elle avait deviné. (ebooks, p. 19)
[You look so pretty, says the Queen-Dauphin to her, that I can’t believe you have been ill; I think the Prince of Conde when he told us the duke de Nemours’s opinion of the ball, persuaded you, that to go there would be doing a favour to the mareschal de St. André, and that that’s the reason which hindered you from going, Madam de Cleves blushed, both because the [Q]ueen-[D]auphin (Marie Stuart), had conjectured right, and because she spoke her conjecture in the presence of the Duke de Nemours.] (Wikisource [31])

Madame de Chartres has accompanied her daughter and vows that the Princess was genuinely ill, but le Duc de Nemours is not convinced. Madame de Clèves has behaved the way he wants his mistress to behave. Besides, Madame de Clèves blushes in the presence of the Duc. As she is dying, Madame de Chartres tells the Princess of Clèves that she is “sur le bord du précipice” (ebooks, p. 21), “on the brink of a precipice.” (Wikisource [35-36])

Mademoiselle de Chartres is so beautiful that when she arrives at court she appears as in the word “apparition.”

Il parut alors une beauté à la cour, qui attira les yeux de tout le monde, et l’on doit croire que c’était un beauté parfaite, puisqu’elle donna de l’admiration dans un lieu où l’on était si accoutumé à voir de belles personnes. Elle était de la même maison que le vidame de Chartres, et une des plus grandes héritières de France.
(ebooksgratuits, p. 7)
[There appeared at this time a lady at Court, who drew the eyes of the whole world; and one may imagine she was a perfect beauty, to gain admiration in a place where there were so many fine women; she was of the same family with the Viscount of Chartres, and one of the greatest heiresses of France, (…)]
(Wikisource [8])

As for the Duc de Nemours, he is described as “perfection” itself. Therefore, a worried Madame de Chartres tells her daughter that he Duke of Nemours is incapable of falling in love.

Elle se mit un jour à parler de lui ; elle lui en dit du bien, et y mêla beaucoup de louanges empoisonnées sur la sagesse qu’il avait d’être incapable de devenir amoureux, et sur ce qu’il ne se faisait qu’un plaisir, et non pas un attachement sérieux du commerce des femmes. (ebooksgratuits, p. 20)
[One day she set herself to talk about him, and a great deal of good she said of him, but mixed with it abundance of sham praises, as the prudence he showed in never falling in love, and how wise he was to make the affair of women and love an amusement instead of a serious business.] (Wikisource [32])

The Death of Madame de Chartres

After her mother dies, the princess of Clèves leaves court. Given that she is mourning her mother, her absence is motivated. The Prince of Clèves returns to “faire sa cour,” but should his wife delay her return to Paris, suspicion would arise. Many of the denizens of Henri II’s court may discover why the Duc de Nemours no longer behaves as he did. The Duke is expected to marry Elizabeth Ist of England, and the time has come for him to meet Elizabeth in person or face her scorn. The Court speculates that he is in love, but no one can tell whom he so loves that he would lose interest in marriage to Elizabeth. Marie Stuart, the Queen-Dauphin, cannot wait to tell her friend, the princesse de Clèves.

No, the Queen-Dauphin cannot wait:

Dès le même soir qu’elle fut arrivée, madame la dauphine la vint voir, et après lui avoir témoigné la part qu’elle avait prise à son affliction, elle lui dit que, pour la détourner de ces tristes pensées, elle voulait l’instruire de tout ce qui s’était passé à la cour en son absence ; elle lui conta ensuite plusieurs choses particulières. — Mais ce que j’ai le plus d’envie de vous apprendre, ajouta−t−elle, c’est qu’il est certain que monsieur de Nemours est passionnément amoureux, et que ses amis les plus intimes, non seulement ne sont point dans sa confidence, mais qu’ils ne peuvent deviner qui est la personne qu’il aime. Cependant cet amour est assez fort pour lui faire négliger ou abandonner, pour mieux dire, les espérances d’une couronne. (ebooks, p. 29)
[The evening of her arrival the queen-dauphin made her a visit, and after having condoled with her, told her that in order to divert her from melancholy thoughts, she would let her know all that had passed at court in her absence; upon which she related to her a great many extraordinary things; but what I have the greatest desire to inform you of, added she, is that it is certain the duke de Nemours is passionately in love; and that his most intimate friends are not only not entrusted in it, but can’t so much as guess who the person is he is in love with; nevertheless this passion of his is so strong as to make him neglect, or to speak more properly, abandon the hopes of a crown.] (Wikisource [48])

L’Amour fatal: Two Moral Compasses

Madame de Clèves is perturbed. Who is this woman who would make the Duke de Nemours abandon his marriage with Elizabeth 1st of England? If she, the Princess of Cleves, is the cause of such changes in the Duc de Nemours, he is “in love,” l’amour fatal. But although she is powerless, she feels guilty. She has been raised by a virtuous mother, but at court liaisons are acceptable. Princes and princesses marry to perpetuate a lineage. Therefore, they may have liaisons. However, Madame de Clèves has been taught virtue. When she hears that the Duc de Nemours is no longer interested in marrying Elizabeth 1st of England, which is a huge sacrifice, the Princess feels extremely distressed. The Duc de Nemours has fallen in love and it is l’amour fatal, Tendre-sur-Inclination. The seventeenth century in France was largely Jansenist. One cannot choose; one is chosen: predestination. The Princess and the Prince are powerless.


Sources and Resources

La Princesse de Clèves is a Librivox and Internet Archive Publication FR.
La Princesse de Clèves is an Publication FR
The Princess of Cleves is a Wikisource publication EN.
La Princesse de Clèves is a Wikisource publication FR.
La Princesse de Clèves is Gutenberg’s [eBook # 18797] FR.
La Princesse de Clèves is Gutenberg’s [eBook # 467] EN.
La Princesse de Clèves is a Librivox and Internet Archive Publication.

Love to everyone 💕

Elizabeth I of England (

© Micheline Walker
8 January 2021
revised 12 January 2021

Chronicling Covid-19, 2021


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Un bar aux Folies Bergère d’Édouard Manet (Courtaud Institute) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This painting by Edouard Manet is so intriguing. Where is the gentleman looking at the young woman?

However, this picture fits my topic. This post was written yesterday and it is about Covid-19. It’s incredible, but Covid remains a major threat. Yesterday, there were 2,641 new cases in the province of Quebec, revealing that some people celebrated Christmas and the New Year. One couldn’t. However, there was no demonstration against sanitary measures. Somehow, that is not the sort of thing Canadians do.

I pity the people of Washington, DC. There was a huge pro-Trump rally, which means that a thousand or thousands of people were infected. I believe they wanted life to be normal, which has been Mr. Trump’s attitude. Life is not normal and the pandemic will not end if strong measures are not taken. We must accept that there is a pandemic and stay safe. What choice do we have? I’m glad I live in Canada.

Despite the new lockdown, efforts are being made to keep street people safe. As I told you, I didn’t vote for Monsieur Legault, but I admire the way he is dealing with the pandemic. However, after ten months, Quebec still sits at the top of the list of Canadian victims, followed closely by Ontario. Many are working from home, and many are considering instituting a universal basic income. As for retired persons, it seems that pension funds are not decreasing. I keep thinking that poverty is at my door, but that is not the case.

Love to everyone and a very Happy New Year. 💕

Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe d’Édouard Manet (Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
7 January 2021

About Marguerite de Navarre


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Madame de La Fayette (labibliothèquedesev.wordpress)

I taught La Princesse de Clèves (The Princess of Cleves) year after year for several decades and told my students who the characters were, including their ancestry. It was easy then, but eighteen years later, it is no longer so easy. I remember the main names, but a few names confused me. Some characters have several titles and some characters have the same title. These are hereditary, so it is a matter of lineage.

The Prince of Cleves’ father is the Duke of Nevers, but he remains a Clèves (See List of Counts of Dukes of Vendôme, Wikipedia.) Clèves/Kleve is a comté (county) in Germany. Le Chevalier de Guise, the Prince de Clèves’ rival, has a brother who is Cardinal of Lorraine, but Cardinal de Lorraine is a title. He remains a Guise. Individuals, mostly aristocrats, can have several titles. Moreover, a Marguerite de Navarre may follow a Marguerite de Navarre. Navarre is a title.

Were it not for the two Marguerites, finding a legitimate heir to the throne of France after the death of Henri III would be difficult. Henri II and Catherine de’ Medici had three sons who reigned, but no heir was born to these three sons. However, because Marguerite de Valois-Vendôme was a Queen consort of Navarre, Henri III of Navarre has Bourbon ancestry. He is the son of Antoine de BourbonDuke of Vendôme and Jeanne d’Albret, the Queen of Navarre. He was baptised a Catholic and raised as a Huguenot. (See Henri IV of France, Wikipedia.) His ancestor was François de Bourbon-Vendôme. (See List of Counts of Dukes of Vendôme, Wikipedia.) Therefore, Henri III of Navarre can ascend the throne of France as Henri IV of France, when Henri III, King of France and Poland, is murdered without issue.

Portrait of Marguerite d’Angoulême by Jean Clouet, ca. 1527
Portrait of Princess Margaret of Valois by François Clouet, 16th century. Margaret was considered in her time beautiful, cultured, refined and flirtatious: for this, she was called the “pearl of the Valois.” (Wikipedia)

Marguerite de Navarre: l’Heptaméron & La Reine Margot

We have two Marguerites de Navarre, but there may be more. Our first Marguerite de Navarre (1492–1549) is Marguerite de Valois-Angoulême, François 1er‘s sister. This Marguerite de Navarre is the author of an collection of 72 novellas (unfinished) entitled the Heptaméron. She found her inspiration in Giovanni Boccaccio‘s Decameron (1313–1375), a compendium of novellas told by young people who have fled the plague. The Decameron exerted influence on Madame de La Fayette. Both l’Heptaméron and La Princesse de Clèves describe intrigues at the Court of France.

Our second Marguerite de Navarre (1553-1615), also born a Valois or Marguerite de France, is Alexandre Dumas père‘s La Reine Margot, but it is unlikely that she was as depraved as Dumas depicted her. This Marguerite is the daughter of Henri II and Catherine de’ Medici. She married Henri III of Navarre, whom she did not love and who became Henri IV, King of Navarre and France. He converted to Catholicism. He is remembered for saying that Paris was well worth a Mass: Paris vaut bien une messe. Marguerite de France had a brother named Henri III de France. He was King of France and Poland and was assassinated by Jacques Clément, a “Catholic fanatic,” in 1589 (see Henri III of France, Wikipedia). Henri II and Catherine de’ Medici had three sons who reigned but there was a second François. He was their last child. He died in 1585, four years before Henri III, King of France, was murdered. Marguerite de Valois protected her husband during the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

So, there are two Marguerite de Navarre, both of whom were initially Marguerite de France, of the House of Valois. “France” is the name given to the children of the King of France. Marguerite de France, the second Marguerite, could not have children, so her marriage to Henri IV was annulled in 1599. She then lived in Paris and befriended Henri IV and his wife, Marie de’ Medici. She lived comfortably and had a castle built. Marguerite liked entertaining artists and writers.

As for La Princesse de Clèves‘ characters, despite the multitude named or mentioned in Madame de La Fayette’s novel, few are truly important, although all play a role. The Princesse de Clèves has “digressions” that mirror the main narrative, which, to a certain extent, is a frame story.

La Carte de Tendre, attributed to engraver François Chauveau
  • The princess of Clèves is the former Mademoiselle de Chartres,
  • The prince of Clèves is the Princess’ husband, whom she marries because he is “moins répugnant,” less repulsive, than other men.
  • The Duke of Nemours is the man the Princesse of Clèves truly loves: inclination. This kind of love is the central river in Mademoiselle de Scudéry‘s Carte de Tendre, Tendre-sur-Inclination. The map of love shows two other rivers: Tendre-sur-Estime and Tendre-sur-Reconnaissance. The Prince de Clèves dies of grief but the Princesse de Clèves will not marry le Duc de Nemours. She fears that if he has nothing to wish for, his love will die.
  • The Vidame de Chartres is the recipient of the letter that falls out of the Duke of Nemours’ pocket.
  • Mary Queen of Scots, Marie Stuart, is Queen Dauphine and Queen of France as wife of François II of France.

We will continue to discuss La Princesse de Clèves. but central to its intrigue are her confession (l’aveu) and a letter that falls out of the Duc de Nemours’ pocket after un jeu de paume, today’s tennis. The Princess of Cleves thinks the Duc de Nemours, whom she loves with a passion, is unfaithful. After reading the letter, she feels so betrayed and jealous that love and jealousy become inextricably linked in her mind.


Arcangelo Corelli‘s Christmas Concerto

© Micheline Walker
1 January 2021

Dutch Winter Scenes


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A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle by Hendrick Avercamp (1608-9)
Photograph: Corbis
The Guardian. UK

Covid will not relent and too many are in denial. On Christmas day, the Montreal police force was making sure regulations were observed. There is a vaccine, but vaccinating everyone will take a long time and the very humble will be the last to be protected. Moreover, there are individuals who will refuse the vaccine. I hope the citizens of the United States will receive their stimulus cheques as soon as possible. This money buys food and keeps a roof over people’s head. No government has the right to neglect its citizens. People pay taxes in order to be safe. It’s the social contract. Besides, if there is money to launch rockets, there is money to keep everyone fed and housed. We must also prepare for other catastrophic events. Losing one’s income is tragic.

Love to everyone 💕

Winter Scene by Avercamp
Noël allemand d’André Gagnon
Winter Scene by Averkamp

© Micheline Walker
29 December 2020

A Merry Christmas


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Bright red flower amaryllis. (iStock)

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas. Many of us will not celebrate as we do in healthy days. There will be fewer and smaller gatherings.

But Christmas is a both a day and a state of mind. We can celebrate privately.

You have brought me much joy. So I have taken you under my little wings to keep you safe and beloved.


The Twelve Days of Christmas (6 January 2016)

I wish you all much happiness.

Love to everyone 💕

L’Enfance du Christ d’Hector Berlioz
Bright red flower amaryllis. (iStock)

© Micheline Walker
24 December 2020