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The Preservation of a German Identity and the Emergence of a European Consciousness in Madame Palatine's French Correspondence


Madame Palatine (Liselotte von der Pfalz, 1652-1722), the second wife of Philippe d'Orléans and thus Louis XIV's sister-in-law, left behind her a voluminous correspondence famous for its directness and the insights it provides into the life at Versailles. This essay studies the ways in which the bilingual princess uses German and French in her letters. German remains for her an affective language, closely linked to her childhood; French on the other hand is the adopted language which permits her to disseminate across Europe a unique description of life at court. By deliberately promoting the ideal of naturalness in her letters, she reinforces what she perceives as the German side of her identity, in direct opposition to the refinement of Versailles and to the stereotypes of female writing during the French classical age. At the centre of a European network of correspondents, she thus transforms the language of Louis XIV into the medium of an unprecedented free exchange of ideas, information and opinions.

SvD, May 2009

  • Publications > Volumes WomenWriters > Crossroads of Languages > Ayme

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