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Constance de Salm, Her Influence and Her Circle in the Aftermath of the French Revolution

«A Mind of No Common Order»


Ellen McNiven Hine

Largely forgotten during the second half of the nineteenth century and throughout most of the twentieth century, Constance de Salm (Constance-Marie de Théis, Mme Pipelet de Leury, later Princess de Salm-Reifferscheid-Dyck,) finally attracted the attention of such scholars as Elizabeth Colwill, Geneviève Fraisse, Huguette Krief, and Christine Planté in the early twenty-first century. However, there has to date been no comprehensive study of her published works, her vast correspondence, and the importance of her cultural exchanges. In this book, Ellen McNiven Hine contributes to the recent upsurge of interest in the literature of this particularly turbulent period in French history. This book considers not only her literary aspirations and claim to fame but also such topics as her contribution to the scientific culture of the period, the extent of the political involvement of a «non-activist» woman, her challenge to what she saw as inequitable provisions in the Civil Code, her championing of women’s progress in literature and the arts, and the role that networking and patronage played in her personal and professional life. Moreover, the study highlights the similarities and differences between her life, writing, and influence and those of other postrevolutionary women such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Germaine de Staël, Margaret Somerville, and Louise Colet.
Constance de Salm uses a variety of genres to address issues of particular importance to women, such as equal access to educational opportunities, the cost to women’s health of reproduction, and lack of economic resources for single and widowed women. She displays a surprising modernity in her awareness of the difficulty of resolving relationship, career, and motherhood problems that continue to plague women in the twenty-first century and points to a future in which women will have access to educational and employment opportunities.


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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS IX INTRODUCTION 1 PART I 1. A LIFE IN CONTEXT: Setting the Historical Stage 13 Life Story 18 Personal Tragedy 20 2. SAPHO 25 Madame De Staël 35 3. THE EARLY YEARS: Championing the Women’s Cause 47 Mary Wollstonecraft 57 4. THE ACCIDENTAL EULOGIST, OR THE SCIENTISTS’ FRIEND: In Praise 68 of the Astronomer Lalande Mary Somerville 86 Hine fm_T3.qxd 11/28/2011 1:12 PM Page vii PART II 5. NETWORKING AND PATRONAGE: CORRESPONDENT AND 101 SALONNIERE EXTRAORDINAIRE: Correspondence: A. Networking and Professional Development 102 B. Correspondence and the Woman Question 110 Salon: The Weekly Meetings of Her ‘Fidèles’ 115 6. RUSTICATION: BANISHMENT TO THE COUNTRY AND 126 THE ‘SIMPLE LIFE’: Urban Is to Rustic as Paris Is to Dyck PART III 7. AN EMPIRE WON AND LOST: THE NAPOLEONIC YEARS AND BEYOND: 141 The Political Interests of a ‘Non-Activist’ Woman Rapport Sur Un Ouvrage De Théremin 152 Opinion D’une Femme Sur Les Femmes 154 8. THE RESTORATION YEARS 163 Louise Colet 170 PART IV 9. TAKING STOCK: REMINISCENCES AND PREDICTIONS: Mes Soixante Ans 181 Looking Back: A. An Astute Observer of The Passing Scene 185 B. Solidarity and Sisterhood 190 C. Character and Self-Creation 193 Looking Forward: Fame, ‘Genius,’ and Legacy 200 CONCLUSION 217 References to unpublished letters in the collection of the Musée 229 Du Vieux Toulon Works By Constance-Marie De Théis, Mme Pipelet De Leury, 235 Princesse De Salm-Reifferscheid-Dyck Bibliography 237 Index 247 viii contents Hine fm_T3.qxd 11/28/2011 1:...

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