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Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman [Anglais] [Broché]

Stefan Zweig , Eden Paul

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8 mai 2013
They chopped off her head To tell the story of Marie Antoinette is to relive the great revolution. To assail the Monarchy, the revolution had to attack the Queen, and in the Queen, the woman. Thus Marie Antoinette, of inviolate virtue, kind heart, and heroic character, was sacrificed by the hordes in their determination to overthrow the Monarchy and send its Queen to the guillotine under the stigma of a prostitute, and guilty of every form of moral corruption and perversion. Somewhere between the two descriptions of the woman lies the truth. What kind of a woman was Marie Antoinette? The life of Marie is perhaps the most singular example of how destiny will sometimes pluck a mediocre woman from obscurity and thrust her into greatness. Marie was an average woman shrinking from adversity, loving peace, quiet and contentment. With diabolical cunning, history began by making her a spoiled darling, wearing a crown while she was still in her teens, endowed with charm, grace and wealth as a young wife, and dowered with a light heart that never troubled to ask the cost of her gifts. Then destiny, having raised her to the pinnacle, dragged her down again. She was torn from her 100-room palace and thrust into a common jail, was hurried from jail to scaffold, from golden coach to tumbril, from luxury to privation, from admiration to hatred and plunged into the abyss of despair. And in these fires of a hell on earth there was unknowingly wrought all the greatness of a long line of ancestors. Just before the mortal, transient frame perished, the immortal work of art was perfected. Marie Antoinette, the mediocrity, achieved greatness commensurate with her destiny.
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Impression à la demande .

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Biographie de l'auteur

Stefan Zweig (born November 28, 1881, Vienna, Austria – died February 22, 1942, Petrópolis, Brazil), was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer was one of the most successful and popular authors of the 20th Century. Although he wrote in German, his works were translated into English and several other languages. Zweig was a prolific writer. In the 1930s he was one of the most widely translated authors in the world. His extensive travels led him to India, Africa, North and Central America, and Russia. Zweig's friends included Maksim Gorky, Rainer Maria Rilke, Auguste Rodin, and Arturo Toscanini. Strangely, at the peak of his popularity and having just completed his autobiography while still working on four other books, Zweig committed suicide in Brazil with his new wife by them both taking poison. In 1939, he had married Charlotte Altmann, his secretary from 1933. She was twenty-seven years his junior. Zweig left a suicide note stating that he had done so because of the Nazi takeover of his country of Austria and because Europe was destroying itself with World War II that was taking place. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Impression à la demande .

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to the Empress: "The King has spoken in such a way that Your Majesty can regard the matter as settled." Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5  28 commentaires
32 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 surreal and magnificent 23 mai 2001
Par Pascal Tiscali - Publié sur
This book is the perfect introduction to the French revolution. It presents a 'visual guided tour' of the life and death of the tragic queen Marie Antoinette. Written in 1932 by the Viennese Jewish novelist and professional biographer Stephan Zweig, the book dips fairly deeply into psychoanalytical thinking, and sometimes the veneration given to Freudian ideas can seem questionable by today's standards. However, the scholarship is truly masterful, and draws on extensive research into the letters and diaries of the most minor characters, without sacrificing narrative style or readability. Zweig writes books that move swiftly, but are rich in detail, and could repay a second reading.

Married at fifteen, crowned queen at nineteen, and beheaded at thirty-seven, Marie Antoinette went from the heights of heedless frivolity into the depths of isolation and despair. Zweig argues that she converted the arrogance and narcissism of her early years as the "queen of rococo", into a brave and selfless defense of the aristocratic lost cause. Surrounded by the mounting violence and insanity of the revolution, which mirrored the earlier unreason of a decadent aristocracy, she was stripped of her power and prestige, but passionately refused to surrender her honor. In the end the force of her character vindicated the nobility which her years of frivolity had discredited. But it was too late, the damage had been done, and she more than any other was the symbol against which the revolution was fought.

Independent of the historical significance of the topic, this book is magnificently written, it moves at a rapid and exciting pace, and it contains many deep moral lessons. The Freudian prejudices of the author should be borne in mind, but in some ways they add to the phenomenal drama this book evokes.
33 internautes sur 36 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The story of a Woman 15 octobre 2001
Par E. Villarreal - Publié sur
Marie Antoinette... many things go through one's mind when thinking of that name. Many say she was cruel, pampered, and spoiled, and that she was the main couse of the French Revolution, yet, she was just a woman, a woman born a princess in the Austrian court, married to a French boy whom she had never met by the age of 15, crowned by 19, and beheaded by 35.
Life went by so fast by Marie Antoinette!!, and never gave her a chance to choose what she wanted out of it.
Stefan Zweig is a marvelous writer, and manages to gives us an intimate portrait of at times very hated, at others very loved and admired woman, an ordinary person who only wished for a normal life with her family, a little place of her own, where she didn't have to adjust and adapt to the many different rules impossed on her.
He describes the life of the French court as only he could, and you feel like you are part of the story, hearing about Versailles, Louvre, the revolution and the people involved, which makes this an excellent book to learn about history, about life in the French court, and about France's last great queen.
So, was she cruel, spoiled, and ignorant? read and decide for yourself....
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent biography 13 août 2009
Par Alberto M. Barral - Publié sur
This biography was the first well researched effort to present the life of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette in alignement to the facts and also adding psychological insight.
Prior to this effort all renditions tended to idiolize her as a martyr or deride her as the personification of all the evils of the old regime. She was neither of the two, but as correctly assesed here, a quite ordinary, uneducated woman that led an extraordinary life due to the historical components that surrounded her fate as a member of a ruling house.

Not just ordinary, she was also very naive and not at all intelligent, as when she arrived in France it took seven years for her to get pregnant and it would have taken more had her brother not pushed the husband into the operation that he desperately needed to be able to perform. This is an incredible contrast with a similar situation encountered, much earlier by Catherine de Medici when she married Henry II and did not get pregnant for several years, but Catherine was a Medici and she found a solution to that problem, and all the others that came with her long reign. It is not the youth and lack of experience that were as important as the willingness, the initiative that is missing from her character. This is also the reason that she was almost illiterate when she arrived in France, as shown by her primitive handwriting when she signed her marriage document. The book is particularly accurate in relating the transformation that occurred in this otherwise ordinary woman when the sufferings of the Revolution brought out a character of great depth and tragic dimension that completely stole the limelight from the Revolution with her tragic trial and execution. If the queen's life were made into an opera, the best arias would be reserved for the last act, because it is then that she truly meets her destiny. In a completely unexpected situation, the spendrift, capricious queen turned into a figure worthy of the best of Racine's tragic heroines, her strength of character, the nobility of her every move form the time of the assult to Versailles till her death, is a unique trajectory in a spiritual transformation that to this day has made her a fascinating, unforgettable character. This is most probably the reason that her character is so controversial to this day in France, for Marie Antoinette managed to be a perfect queen when it was least expected of her, and surprised herself, and history by completely humilating the Revolution without intending to do so. The sadistic cruelty, petit-bourgeois pettiness and abusive violence and hatred that characterized the Revolution is all too exposed in the record with her. We understand the people of France were hungry, downtrodden and frustrated by generations of complete neglect from their leaders, and we sympathise with their desire for freedom and improvement, but it is nevertheless hard to believe that the rabble, and the lowest denominator in decency so quickly dominated the movement and called all the shots from the very day of the assult to the Bastille in July 1789 when they proceeded to butcher the surrendering officers in charge, to Robespierre's execution in July 1794 were five long years of violence and terror.

As Zweig understands and explains so well in the last chapters, Marie Antoinette was not equipped to understand what had happened either intellectually or through education. She was therefore unfair to the Revolutionaries in the sense that she was unable to accept moderation and reform, which were motivated by a just cause of social improvement and wanted better for their country than the ruinous, inefficient and financially chaotic estate she and Louis XVI inherited from the real culprit if there was ever any, of the disaster, the indolent, selfish, egocentric and completely misguided Louis XV who was at least smart enough to realize and say, at the end of his (unfortunately) long, wasted life "After me, the Deluge". She saw the Revolution as a rebellion, a sign of the wrath of God perhaps for her past sins, but never as a social change that was overdue and necessary, she could not have understood, from her isolated and sheltered perspective, plus more importantly, it was not her job to do so, she married the king but was NOT the ruler herself, and aside from the myths created by the pamphlets, her husband did have a mind of his own and did not automatically do what she suggested or wanted.

As explained here, it was the natural incompetence of the king that prevented any chance of appropriate governing for the hard times they faced, even in a prosperous era he would have been an impediment as he never wanted, as it is clarified in the book, to be king in the first place. He was a quiet, good intentioned man that was happiest making clocks and locks. This image could have been an excellent one to transition the monarchy from the fairy tale nightmare of denial of Louis XV's reign into a modern constitutional state, and Marie Antoinette would have adored the role of simpler, homier queen, but this never happened. The king was too weak and unmotivated to do anything, or enough of anything, but what was worse, he blocked everyone who wanted to, from doing it also. France had in her past kings that were completely dominated by capable ministers: Louis XIII and Richilieu being the most obvious example, so the natural ambition that was very much present in both his brothers and the Duc D'Orleans were never utilized and eventually they turned against him, thus weakening the system further and providing the first primary impulse for the avalanche. The way he handled the famous affair of the necklace was perfect in showing all the deficiencies in his character. Readers may forget for example that at the time Talleyrand, the greatest diplomat of France, was already a bishop and could have been made a minister/advisor, there was no lack of talent around, but the king was attracted to mediocrity and consistently selected poor choices for all the important positions. Moreover, the lapse of time between 1774 and 1789 is long enough for SOME change to have ocurred but nothing was done till it was too late.

The passages that explain her relationship with Count Fersen and clarify the rumors about her suppossed lesbian affairs are excellent because we understand totally the intimate aspects of her life, how her friendships were maligned by a press avid for her destruction and defamation, because it served perfectly into their political motives. We also understand that this woman, after fulfilling her duty as a wife and queen, had to find an emotional support that her husband could never provide. It is also important to note that the entire episode of the escape to Varennes was excellently organized by Fersen, and almost met with success but for the king's lack of decision and strength of character. Even when they were detained he could have bullied the post master and gotten away, but it is a sad episode when inbreeding has produced a creature that can not even fight for survival, which is what we see instead.
The closing chapter on the trial and execution is a masterpiece of theatrical reconstruction, we can feel the oppressiveness of those horrible months between the king's execution and her own, particularly in recounting the painful separation from her son, then her total isolation at La Conciergerie. The magnificent last stand at her trial where the women present give her an ovation is all the proof we need as to why she has become an inmortal figure of history, but we also see it in the letter that she wrote to the king's sister, a letter which she never received, but that has survived as a testament to a new station in her life she herself never would have ambitioned or suspected, true greatness.
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Stands the test of time very well. 23 mai 2005
Par Nina M. Osier - Publié sur
Dating from 1933 in its first edition, this book is part biography and part psychological analysis of the great Austrian Empress Maria Theresa's daughter who died a hated Queen of France. While both its writing style and its ideas - particularly its author's assumptions about the fundamental nature of womanhood - may seem quaint to the 21st Century reader, it's still very well worth reading. Zweig refuses to rely upon a number of commonly used sources that he has reason to consider suspect, and he approaches his subject with genuine interest that's refreshingly uncontaminated by awe. The Archduchess Antoinette, the Dauphiness of France, the giddy young Queen to Louis XVI, the maturing mother of the Dauphin who would have become Louis XVII - Zweig captures them all, and then takes us with him through this woman's terrible final transformation into the prematurely white-haired "Widow Capet" who mounts the scaffold. He writes her life with frankness that's remarkable, truly, considering the era in which his work was originally published.
14 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An average woman in exceptional circumstances 2 août 2001
Par A. Wells - Publié sur
Zweig's biography is so fascinating, I can't believe it's been allowed to go out of print. He does a remarkable job of delineating a light-headed, pleasureseeking woman who was thrust into circumstances she couldn't have anticipated or coped with. Marie Antoinette becomes a real woman, not a figurehead or a scapegoat. No one could ask for anything less.
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