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Madame de Villedieu, a Woman on Her Own

Madame de Villedieu, a Woman on Her Own

(p.1) Madame de Villedieu, a Woman on Her Own
Memoirs of the Life of Henriette-Sylvie De Molière : A Novel
University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the life of Marie-Catherine Desjardins, known as Madame de Villedieu, a prolific writer who not only played an important role in the evolution of the early modern novel in France, but also wrote poetry and plays. Her pseudo-autobiographical novel, Memoirs of the Life of Henriette-Sylvie de Molière, offers readers an unconventional and enterprising woman protagonist. The novel is innovative in its presentation of a love story that does not end with the marriage of hero and heroine. Through her protagonist's use of disguise, Villedieu explores gender roles, and in portraying a woman who is herself writing her life story, she calls into question the way in which women's writing was read in early modern Europe. Known principally as a love poet at this point in her career, Desjardins turned her attention to the theater, and in 1662 one of the principal theatrical troupes in Paris produced her tragicomedy Manlius.

Keywords:   Marie-Catherine Desjardins, Madame de Villedieu, novel, France, gender roles, Europe, tragicomedy, Manlius, women's writing

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