Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Shop


Featured:

Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Enlarge
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon (January 16, 1675March 2, 1755), French soldier, diplomatist and writer of memoirs, was born in Paris (Hôtel Selvois, 6 rue Taranne, today at 175 Bd. Saint-Germain). The dukedom-peerage granted to his father, Claude de Saint-Simon (1608-1693), is a central fact in his history.

Contents

Fame as a writer

It could be said that the actual events of Saint-Simon's life, long as it was and high as was his position, are neither numerous nor noteworthy. Yet he posthumously acquired great literary fame. He was an indefatigable writer, and he began very early to write down all the gossip he collected, all his interminable legal disputes of precedence, and a vast mass of unclassified matter. Most of his manuscripts came into the possession of the government, and it was long before their contents were fully published. Partly in the form of notes on Marquis de Dangeau's Journal, partly in that of original and independent memoirs, partly in scattered and multifarious tracts, he had committed to paper an immense amount of matter.

Saint-Simon's memoirs display a striking voice. On the one hand, he is petty, unjust to private enemies and to those who espoused public parties with which he did not agree, and an omnivorous gossip. Yet he shows a great skill for narrative and for character-drawing. He has been compared to Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, and to historians such as Livy. He is at the same time not a writer who can be "sampled" easily, inasmuch as his most characteristic passages sometimes occur in the midst of long stretches of quite uninteresting matter. His vocabulary was extreme and inventive; among other words he is supposed to provide the first use of "intellectual" as a noun.

A few critical studies of him, especially those of Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, are the basis of much that has been written about him. His most famous passages, such as the account of the death of the dauphin, or of the Bed of Justice where his enemy, Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, duc du Maine, was degraded, do not give a fair idea of his talent. These are his gallery pieces, his great "engines," as French art slang calls them. Much more noteworthy as well as more frequent are the sudden touches which he gives. The bishops are "cuistres violets" (purple pedants); M. de Caumartin "porte sous son manteau toute la faculté que M. de Villeroy étale sur son baudrier" (holds under his cloak all the power that M. de Villeroy displays on his sheath); another politician has a "mine de chat fâché" (appearance of a disgruntled cat). In short, the interest of the Memoirs is in the novel and adroit use of word and phrase.

He had a decisive influence on writers like Tolstoy, Barbey d' Aurevilly, Flaubert, Valle-Inclán, Proust, Mujica Láinez, and many others.

Bibliography

Extensive publication of Saint-Simon's Memoirs did not proceed until the 1820s. The first and greatest critical edition was in the Grands écrivains de la France series. The most accessible modern edition consists of nine volumes in the Bibliothèque de la Pléïade.

English-language translations of the Memoirs

There are a number of English-language translations of selections of the Memoirs:

  • Memoirs on the Reign of Louis XIV, and the Regency. Abridged by Bayle St. John. London: Chapman, 1857.
  • The Memoirs of the Duke of Saint-Simon on the reign of Louis XIV, and the Regency. 2nd edition. 3 volumes. Translated by Bayle St. John. London: Swan, Sonnenschein, Lowrey, 1888.
  • Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon on the Times of Louis XIV and the Regency. Translated and abridged by Katharine Prescott Wormeley. Boston: Hardy, Pratt, 1902.
  • Louis XIV at Versailles: A Selection from the Memoirs of the duc de Saint-Simon. Translated and edited by Desmond Flower. London: Cassell, 1954.
  • The Age of Magnificence: The Memoirs of the Duke de Saint-Simon. Edited and translated by Sanche de Gramont. New York: Putnam, 1963.
  • Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon. Edited by W.H. Lewis. Translated by Bayle St. John. London: B.T. Batsford, 1964.
  • Historical Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon, volume 1 1691-1709. Edited and translated by Lucy Norton. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1967.
  • Historical Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon, volume 2 1710-1715. Edited and translated by Lucy Norton. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1968.
  • Historical Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon, volume 3 1715-1723. Edited and translated by Lucy Norton. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1972.
  • Saint-Simon at Versailles. Edited and translated by Lucy Norton. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1980. Includes selections which are omitted from the three longer volumes, which together include about 40% of the whole work.

Studies of the Memoirs (in English)

  • Auerbach, Erich. Mimesis. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953. Chapter 16 "The Interrupted Supper"
  • Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel. Saint-Simon and the Court of Louis XIV. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. ISBN 0226473201
  • De Ley, Herbert. Saint-Simon Memorialist. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools