Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Women of Versailles

Imbert de Saint-Amand - Women of Versailles (1874 & 1876?, English 1893) direct link (Court of Louis XIV) direct link (Last Years of Louis XV)
Open Library main page

Two connected books that get tied together in many records because it's only the subtitle that distinguishes them.  The best I can determine is that Court appeared in 1874 and Last Years in 1876 but that's not certain.

Saint-Amand (1834-1900) was a prolific writer on Famous Women of the French Court as the book's advertisement lists it.  Three each on Marie Antoinette, Empress Josephine and the Duchess of Berry with four on Empress Marie Louise plus some other assorted works.

This seemed like an interesting title though perhaps almost too much detail for most of us.  ("The Queen and the Dauphin were lodged, the one on the first story, the other on the ground-floor, in the south part of the old chateau of Louis XIII, that which has a view of the orangery and the Swiss lake." p37 Court)  Then again this is a fascinating period and two books are way less than Saint-Simon even if likely less well-written and less perceptive.  (One contemporary reviewer claimed Saint-Amand had no interest in anything but surfaces.)

The only substantial information about the author that I can find is a note to the Oxford World's Classic edition of Nostromo that dismissively says Saint-Amand was "minister of state under Napoleon III and a prodigiously prolific historical novelist who concocted a heady mix of sex and snobbery".  I'm not sure Saint-Amand wrote any novels (there's only a title or two in the Bibliothèque nationale's catalog that look possibly like fiction) and scanning these books don't see much sex - the snobbery is part of the point.  Saint-Amand doesn't even rate an entry in the French Wikipedia.