J. Christopher Herold vigorously tells the story of the fierce Madame de Stael, revealing her courageous opposition to Napoleon, her whirlwind affairs with the great intellectuals of her day, and her idealistic rebellion against all that was cynical, tyrannical, and passionless. Germaine de Stael's father was Jacques Necker, the finance minister to Louis XVI, and her mother ran an influential literary-political salon in Paris. Always precocious, at nineteen Germaine married the Swedish ambassador to France, Eric Magnus Baron de Stael-Holstein, and in 1785 took over her mother's salon with great success. Germaine and de Stael lived most of their married life apart. She had many brilliant lovers. Talleyrand was the first, Narbonne, the minister of war, another; Benjamin Constant was her most significant and long-lasting one. She published several political and literary essays, including "A Treatise on the Influence of the Passions upon the Happiness of Individuals and of Nations," which became one of the most important documents of European Romanticism. Her bold philosophical ideas, particularly those in "On Literature," caused feverish commotion in France and were quickly noticed by Napoleon, who saw her salon as a rallying point for the opposition. He eventually exiled her from France. This winner of the 1959 National Book Award is "excellent ... detailed, full of color, movement, great names, and lively incident" -- The New York Times "Mr. Herold's full-bodied biographyis clear-eyed, intelligent, and written with abundant wit and zest." -- The Atlantic Monthly
Hey - that's a good idea!
She was the daughter of the great Finance Minister of Louis XVI, Jacques Necker, who did his best to save France from the abyss of economic collapse - and failed. Thus she enjoyed a front row seat for the French Revolution - in all its glory and horror. Her first husband was a Swedish diplomat who was a friend of Marie Antoinette; among her lovers were the incomparable diplomat Talleyrand, the influential economist Sisimondi, and the inflamed romantic novelist Benjamin Constant. And her second husband was a dashing French cavalryman half her age.