By Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans Montpensier, Duchesse De Montpensier
In the bold letters provided during this bilingual variation, Montpensier condemns the alliance process of marriage, providing as an alternative to chanced on a republic that she could govern, "a nook of the realm during which . . . ladies are their very own mistresses," and the place marriage or even courtship will be outlawed. Her pastoral utopia would offer therapy and vocational education for the terrible, and the entire houses could have libraries and experiences, in order that each one lady may have a "room of her personal" within which to write down books.
Joan DeJean's vigorous creation and available translation of Montpensier's letters—four formerly unpublished—allow us exceptional entry to the brave voice of this remarkable woman.
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Extra resources for Against marriage : the correspondence of la Grande Mademoiselle
3:453, P. 42:490, B. 2:146). Thus was born Montpensier’s utopian vision for a community in which women would be mistresses of their fates and their property. The ﬁrst letter is dated May 14, two and a half weeks before the royal nuptials, but also less than two weeks shy of Montpensier’s thirty-third birthday. Surely everyone present at Saint-Jean-de-Luz realized that her value as marital commodity was rapidly dwindling. Certainly, by this point Montpensier had come to think of marriage as an institution that was most often highly disadvantageous to women.
From the beginning, Montpensier was an eyewitness to the unfolding of the Fronde, the civil war that polarized French society until 1653. The Fronde was an unusually complicated uprising, during which various factions, all of which were allegedly united in their opposition—if not always speciﬁcally to the Crown, at least to royal authority in the person of the king’s representative, Prime Minister Mazarin—sometimes reinforced but more often undermined one another’s efforts. Certainly, the different factions never managed to work together in the way that would have been necessary for their cause to be successful.
On the use of the pastoral, particularly in seventeenth-century England, to camouﬂage dangerous political messages, see Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution (New York: Viking, 1978). See Raymond Williams on the early modern revival of the pastoral tradition and for a fascinating reading of the wide range of meanings assigned by different authors to rural life, in The Country and the City (London: Chatto and Windus, 1973). 11 A few years later, in the sixth volume of her next novel, Clélie, histoire romaine, published in 1658, Scudéry tells the story of “illustrious recluses” (“illustres solitaires”) who, tired of “all the world’s vanity,” have decided to create their own “small world” within “the large one” in order to be able to live in peace.
Against marriage : the correspondence of la Grande Mademoiselle by Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans Montpensier, Duchesse De Montpensier