Sunday, October 26, 2008


I've just finished reading Delphine, by Germaine de Stael. It's a French novel about a tragic love affair, and is about as melodramatic as one might expect from that description. But, luckily, melodrama is not all there is to it. I actually found the book surprisingly enjoyable and only a little annoying. There is lot of radicalism in this book. It is set during the early days of the French Revolution (i.e. before the Terror), and there' s a lot in it about women's rights and liberty. It is especially concerned with upholding the right of women to divorce. And there are a few interesting inset narratives about women's lives and the choices open to women (or the lack thereof). While there are a few men in the book, obviously, this books is overwhelmingly concerned with women, their relationships, and their friendships. I found Mme de Vernon particularly interesting.

Be warned, there is much contemplation of the nature of love, and lots and lots of swooning. The hero is a complete wet blanket who deserves some serious bitch-slapping at times. But, for all that, I found myself genuinely moved by parts of this book, and the ending is a bit unsettling, despite my earlier irritation at the actions of the hero, Leonce.

Interesting Germaine de Stael fact: she introduced Fanny Burney to the man who would become her husband, Alexandre D'Arblay.

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