An innovative and daring writer and conversationalist, Germaine de Stael (1766-1817) was an anomaly in an era when men dominated the literary world. Among her works are two major novels, Delphine (1802) and Corinne (1807), both popular internationalMoreAn innovative and daring writer and conversationalist, Germaine de Stael (1766-1817) was an anomaly in an era when men dominated the literary world.
Among her works are two major novels, Delphine (1802) and Corinne (1807), both popular international successes at the time of their publication. Stael achieved her greatest prominence, however, as a moral and political essayist, and was banished by Napoleon in 1803 for her outspoken commentary. Her exile inspired Germany (1813), a discourse on the countrys people, institutions, and culture. Germany is considered a seminal cross-cultural work of the early 19th century, for it introduced Germany and its arts and literature to the West and exerted a capital influence on the French romantic movement.
A child of the Enlightenment, Stael epitomized the European culture that bridged neoclassicism to romanticism.Stael increasingly has become a subject for revision and reevaluation. In this excellent new study Gretchen Rous Besser analyzes with great clarity the life, works, and contributions of Germaine de Stael. Comprehensive in scope, it details the evolution of Staels career, including the two novels, her important political, historical, and theoretical works, and her lesser fictional and dramatic writings.
Besser offers detailed explications of Delphine and Corinne, which she situates in their sociopolitical climate, and demonstrates how Stael attempted to come to grips with womens social condition. Besser also considers Stael as a defender of political liberties, examining the composition and reception of Considerations on the French Revolution (1818) and Ten Years in Exile (1820), both significant texts published posthumously.
Throughout, Besser concentrates on Stael as a cultural intermediary, exploring in depth the significance of Germany and the role Stael played as hostess to the leading minds of Europe while exiled at Coppet, her Swiss estate, during the later years of her life.Although several works have been published on Stael in recent years, they have tended to focus on a single aspect of Staels work, particularly the novels, or have analyzed her work from a specific ideological point of view. Bessers examination, in contrast, is a thorough consideration of the whole of Staels life and work.
With its clear prose and well-balanced presentation, it is sure to become the definitive study of Germaine de Stael.