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Archive for the ‘Books & Films’ Category

the-banquet-ziyi-poster

Black Swan, Hamlet, The Banquet

Yes, another post about film, but these are after all the last days before the Oscars. I have been thinking again about Black Swan, and been reminded of Shakespeare’s most famous lines: A tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury Signifying nothing. And, as often, thinking of the Bard made me think about […]

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The-Kings-Speech-movie-poster

The King’s Speech: Jane Austen, Winston Churchill, the airbrush and the Vaseline

Warning: this is not a proper film review, just a few thoughts on Jane Austen and on the ethics of historical fiction. For one thing, I must say that found watching The King’s Speech wonderfully satisfying, as a sort of anti-Black Swan experience. A careful, unobstrusive direction, the compelling story of a man overcoming the […]

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Marie-Therese-Charlotte-Madame-Royale

An interview of Elena Maria Vidal, author of Madame Royale

CD: Welcome back to Versailles and More, Elena, and thank you for kindly agreeing to discuss your book, Madame Royale, for our readers. The novel begins during Madame Royale’s exile in England. This works very well from a dramatic standpoint, and selfishly, I was delighted to see your book begin where and when mine ended. […]

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Madame_Royale_cover

Madame Royale, a novel by Elena Maria Vidal

The French Restoration (1814-1830) is an era woefully neglected by historical novelists. Fortunately, Elena Maria Vidal helps fill this void with her Madame Royale. Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte de France, Duchesse d’Angoulême, was the eldest child of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, and later the last Queen of France, albeit for a few minutes, until her husband’s abdication on […]

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catherine-deneuve-peau-d-ane

Love cake recipe, courtesy of Peau d’Ane

Peau d’Ane, Donkey Skin, is my favorite Perrault fairy tale, and a full post here on this powerful story of lust, incest, love and morality is long overdue. In the meantime, Valentine’s Day gives me this opportunity to link to this excerpt of the wonderful musical adaptation by Jacques Demy, starring Catherine Deneuve as the […]

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Black Swan: odd bird

For the longest time I couldn’t visit the New York Times website without an ad for Black Swan popping up to the right of the article I was reading. Irritating, but it worked. I was intrigued by all the hooplah and finally saw the film. Thanks for the publicity barrage, everyone must have heard the story, […]

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Martine Carol as Lola Montes

Lola Montes, by Max Ophüls (restored 1955 version)

I saw this film the other night on French television. Oh, I had watched it before, but now I was discovering the recently (2008) restored version, which conforms closely to the vision of director Max Ophüls. This film has a tortured history. It was an complete commercial flop upon its release, and was then mangled, […]

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Jane-Austen-Persuasion-manuscript

Breaking news: Jane Austen was human!

It has made the rounds of the major media worlwide (see the BBC, for instance.) Even Le Monde mentions it, and yet Jane Austen is not a household name in France. In 21st century parlance, the story has become “viral.” So yes, Professor Kathryn Sutherland, of Oxford University, reveals that Jane revised her manuscripts, as […]

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Princesse de Montpensier Melanie Thierry

The Princess de Montpensier, by Madame de Lafayette (and now Bertrand Tavernier)

Madame de Lafayette’s most famous work is -righty- the Princess de Clèves, mais she also wrote memoirs and short stories. One of them, the Princess de Montpensier, is available online in English as well as the beautiful, original 17th century French version. Montpensier does not show the same mastery as Clèves, written 16 years years […]

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Edith-Wharton

Kerfol, and other Edith Wharton ghost stories

I discovered these thanks to the discussions we had at two of my Yahoo lists, Eighteenth Century Worlds and Women Writers Through The Ages. I began with Mr. Jones and was fascinated by it. The multiple layers, the historical depth (the backstory takes place in the late 18th and early 19th centuries), the sense of […]

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