Benedetta Craveri is a professor of French literature at the University of Tuscia, Viterbo, and the Istituto Universitario Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples. She regularly contributes to The New York Review of Books and to the cultural pages of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Her books include Madame du Deffand and Her World, La Vie privée du Maréchal de Richelieu, and Amanti e regine: Il potere delle donne. She is married to a French diplomat.


Fly High & Fall

Madame de Maintenon; seventeenth-century enamel miniature by Jean Petitot the Elder

The Secret Wife of Louis XIV: Françoise d'Aubigné, Madame de Maintenon

by Veronica Buckley
At Versailles during the night of October 9, 1683, three months after the death of his wife, Maria Teresa of Spain, Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre, married Mme de Maintenon, the former governess of his children by his recently discarded mistress, the marquise de Montespan. The marriage was …

A Very Grand Girl

La Grande Mademoiselle at the Court of France, 1627–1693

by Vincent J. Pitts

Against Marriage: The Correspondence of La Grande Mademoiselle Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans

edited and translated from the French by Joan DeJean
Only three living members of the royal family in seventeenth-century France were given the title “Grand,” a word that historians would later apply to the entire age, the Grand Siècle. Two of the three were men. Louis XIV, known as Louis Le Grand, was the supreme embodiment of absolute monarchy.


L'Art de la conversation

edited by Jacqueline Hellegouarc'h, with a preface by Marc Fumaroli

'De l'air galant' et autres Conversations (1653-1686): Pour une étude de l'archive galante

by Madeleine de Scudéry, edited by Delphine Denis
“I have traveled much, and devoted much study to human beings individually and collectively, but I have only found real sociability among the French: for they alone know how to joke; and fine, sub-tle joking, enlivening conversation is what makes up the charm of society.” —The Memoirs of Casanova …

Venice: Going for Glory

The Death of the Child Valerio Marcello

by Margaret L. King

The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-Century Venice

by Margaret F. Rosenthal
The central character in Margaret King’s book is a high official of the Venetian Republic who passed himself off as a military commander. The subject of Margaret Rosenthal’s book is a beautiful Venetian courtesan who wanted to be thought of as virtuous and cultured. Separated by a century, the lives …

The Lost Art

Cartesian Women: Versions and Subversions of Rational Discourse in the Old Regime

by Erica Harth

Watteau's Painted Conversations: Art, Literature, and Talk in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century France

by Mary Vidal
In his Discours de la méthode (1637) Descartes said that he chose to write in French rather than in Latin in order to reach “those who employ nothing but their pure natural reason.” We are justified in supposing that among such readers the philosopher included women, since they were not …

Conqueror of Paris

A Woman, a Man, and Two Kingdoms: The Story of Madame d'Epinay and the Abbæ Galiani

by Francis Steegmuller

Ferdinando Galiani, Louise d'Epinay Correspondance Vol. I (1769–1770)

by (The Correspondance will comprise five volumes to appear annually.), edited by Georges Dulac and Daniel Maggetti
In 1766 the Paris of the Enlightenment welcomed the Milanese political philosopher Cesare Beccaria with both reverence and curiosity. All the philosophes were anxious to meet the author of Of Crimes and Punishments (1764), his celebrated treatise on judicial law that condemned torture and the death penalty. All the same, …

Women in Retreat

Storia delle donne in Occidente: Dal Rinascimento all'età moderna (A History of Women in the West: From the Renaissance to the Modern Era)

edited by Arlette Farge, edited by Natalie Zemon Davis

Letteratura per il popolo in Francia (1600–1750) (Literature for the French People, 1600–1750)

by Giovanni Dotoli
The first known female nude painting of the Renaissance, a work of 1540 by Jean Cousin, confronts visitors to the Louvre with supreme indifference. Seenin profile, like an ancient cameo, with her gaze fixed on some object invisibleto us, the beautiful young woman lounging on her right side with her …