Friday, September 6, 2013

The Letters of Madame de Sévigné (1626-1696)

"Nouveau Choix des Lettres de Madame de Sévigné" (1846)  

The library holds several editions of Madame de Sévigné's letters, both  in the original French and in  English translation. The image shows the frontispiece (a portrait of the author), and title page of a selection of the letters intended for use in schools, and published in Tours in 1846. At the other end of the editorial spectrum, we hold a six-volume edition published in Paris in 1843, with notes and commentary.

"Letters from the Marchioness De Sévigné to her Daughter"
 The most interesting translation we have is shown above. It is a selection of the letters printed in Dublin in 1768. The title page assures us that the translation is "from the French of the last Paris edition", but, as was frequently the case in this period, the translator is not named. Also in our collection is a Dictionary of Madame de Sévigné, compiled by Edward Fitzgerald, who recorded his interest in "writing out for my own use a Dictionary of the Dramatis Personae figuring in the Corrrespondence".  His work was edited by his great-niece Mary Eleanor Fitzgerald Kerrich, and  published in two volumes in 1914.

There are also some key essays about Madame de Sévigné included as prefaces to both French and English editions. A selection from the correspondence published by Garnier Frères in Paris in 1886 has an essay by the critic Sainte-Beuve. And Somerset Maugham writes the introduction to a selection translated by Violet Hamersley and published in London in 1955.

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