By Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans Montpensier, Duchesse De Montpensier
In the bold letters provided during this bilingual variation, Montpensier condemns the alliance method of marriage, offering in its place to stumbled 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 remedy and vocational education for the terrible, and all of the houses might have libraries and reviews, in order that each one girl might have a "room of her personal" during which to jot down books.
Joan DeJean's full of life creation and obtainable translation of Montpensier's letters—four formerly unpublished—allow us unparalleled entry to the brave voice of this impressive woman.
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Extra info for Against marriage : the correspondence of la Grande Mademoiselle
19 20 La Grande Mademoiselle To reinforce her point that this is no longer the immediate post-Fronde era, Montpensier carefully dates two key letters, a decision that no longer seems noteworthy today but was just that in her day. The vast majority of the letters that have survived from the ﬁrst half of the seventeenth century are not dated; the years in which Montpensier began her correspondence mark the moment when dating letters began to be standard practice. That custom was part of a major shift in epistolary practice, away from what are known as public letters—missives intended from the start for publication, as part of letter manuals, as rhetorical exercises, or as contributions to a polemic (many political tracts printed during the Fronde took the form of letters, for example)—in the direction of the more private circulation of letters that we now take for granted.
16 In the end, both realized that spatial independence, the possibility of a place where “women are their own mistresses,” was of the essence if women were to leave a permanent legacy. When she reﬂected on this correspondence in her memoirs, Montpensier concluded that “if both sides of the correspondence were gathered together, there would be enough to ﬁll a small volume” (C. 3:453, P. 42:490, B. 2:147). Nearly three and a half centuries later, this thinly veiled request to make fully public her dreams for all that women might accomplish if they were allowed to rule over “a corner of the world” is at last being answered.
This time lag is in no way sur- La Grande Mademoiselle By the end of her four years of political exile, Montpensier had become the woman we ﬁnd in her correspondence with Françoise Bertaut de Motteville: someone who had thought a great deal about whether it was essential to live at her society’s political and cultural nerve center, someone who had come to understand that it was important to her own sense of self not only to witness the unfolding of history, but also to bear witness to this process in writing.
Against marriage : the correspondence of la Grande Mademoiselle by Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans Montpensier, Duchesse De Montpensier