«A Mind of No Common Order»
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.
6. RUSTICATION: BANISHMENT TO THECOUNTRY AND THE‘SIMPLELIFE’: Urban Is to Rustic as Paris Is to Dyck 126
While Constance de Salm was accustomed throughout the forty years of her second marriage to spend a good part of the year at her husband’s château at Dyck, near Neuss, the fact that her daughter’s death occurred there was one more reason for her visits to become less and less frequent. Although she appreciated the imposing structure and the magnificent view, she felt much less at home in Dyck than in Paris, and much less emotional connection to Germany than to France. Over time her complaints about life in the country became more and more vociferous, and the tragedy of her daughter’s death was the final straw. Dyck represented isolation from her usual society, loneliness, and homesickness. Indeed, she not only felt like a foreigner, she was a foreigner, ever since 1815, when the Rhineland became part of Prussia. There is no question that at a time when French culture was imbued with Rousseauist conviction about the artificiality of urban society, the superiority of the countryside and the ‘natural’ attractions of the simple life, Constance was unequivocal in her preference for the city and all that it represented.1 She makes this clear in the Pensées where she describes the kind of life one is com- pelled to live in the country as consisting of letters, visits, memories, and the witnessing of daily insignificant events, as a way to ward off boredom, conclud- ing with the observation that only a simpleton, an eccentric, or a pig-headed · 6 · RUSTICATION Banishment...
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