Germaine de Staël

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Germaine de Staël
Madame de Staël.jpg
"Madame de Staël" by François Gérard (1810)
Born Anne-Louise Germaine Necker
(1766-04-22)22 April 1766
Paris, France
Died 14 July 1817(1817-07-14) (aged 51)
Paris, France
Cause of death Cerebral hemorrhage
Nationality French
Notable work Delphine, Corinne, De l'Allemagne
Spouse(s) Erik Magnus Staël von Holstein (m. 1786; d. 1802)
Albert Jean Michel de Rocca (m. 1811)
School Romanticism
Main interests
French nationalism, representative government and constitutionalism
Notable ideas
Literary salons

Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein (French: [stal]; née Necker; 22 April 1766 – 14 July 1817), commonly known as Madame de Staël, was a French woman of letters of Genevan origin whose lifetime overlapped with the events of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era. For many years she lived as an exile under the Reign of Terror and under Napoleonic persecution. Known as a witty and brilliant conversationalist, often dressed in flashy and revealing outfits, she participated actively in the political and intellectual life of her times. She was present at the first opening of the Estates General and at the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen,[1] and witnessed the departure of the royal family from Versailles. Her intellectual collaboration with Benjamin Constant between 1795 and 1811 made them one of the most celebrated intellectual couples of their time. They discovered sooner than others the tyrannical character and designs of Napoleon.[2] In 1814 one of her contemporaries observed that "there are three great powers struggling against Napoleon for the soul of Europe: England, Russia, and Madame de Staël".[3] Her works, both novels and travel literature, with emphasis on passion, individuality and oppositional politics made their mark on European Romanticism. Personal freedom was evidently as important to her as abstract political liberties.[4]


Germaine Necker by Carmontelle

Germaine (or Minette) was the only child of the prominent Genevan banker and statesman Jacques Necker, who was the Director-General of Finance under King Louis XVI of France. Her mother was Suzanne Curchod, also of Swiss birth, who hosted in Rue de la Chaussée-d'Antin one of the most popular salons of Paris.[5] Mme Necker wanted to educate her daughter according to the principles of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and to endow her with the intellectual education and Calvinist discipline instilled in her by her pastor father.[6] On Friday she habitually brought Germaine as a young child to sit at her feet in her salon, where the guests took pleasure in stimulating the brilliant child. (Celebrities such as the Comte de Buffon, Jean-François Marmontel, Melchior Grimm, Edward Gibbon, the Abbé Raynal, and Jean-François de la Harpe, Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Denis Diderot, and Jean d'Alembert were frequent visitors.) At the age of thirteen she read Montesquieu, Shakespeare, Rousseau and Dante.[7] This exposure occasioned a nervous breakdown in adolescence, but the seeds of a literary vocation had been sown.

According to Craiutu her father "Necker is remembered today for taking the unprecedented step in 1781 of making public the country’s budget, a novelty in an absolute monarchy where the state of finances had always been kept a secret."[8] Leading to his dismissal in May, the family eventually took up residence in 1784 at Château Coppet, an estate her father purchased on Lake Geneva. The family returned to the Paris region in 1785, and Mlle Necker continued to write miscellaneous works, including the three-act romantic drama Sophie (1786) and the five-act tragedy, Jeanne Grey (1787).


The Swedish Ambassy, Hôtel de Ségur, later Hôtel de Salm-Dyck

At the age of eleven, she offered her mother to marry Edward Gibbon, so he would always be around. Being twenty Germaine's parents became impatient for her to marry a Protestant. In 1783 William Pitt the Younger and the Comte de Guibert, a cold-hearted fop of some talent, certainly paid her attention.[5] Finally a marriage was arranged with Baron Erik Magnus Staël von Holstein, an attaché of the Swedish legation to France. It took place on 14 January 1786 in the Swedish embassy at 97, Rue du Bac; Germaine was 20, her husband 37. On the whole, the marriage seems to have been acceptable to both parties, although neither seems to have had any or little affection for the other. The baron, a gambler, obtained great benefits as he was confirmed as lifetime ambassador to Paris, although his wife was almost certainly the more effective envoy.[9]

Revolutionary activities[edit]

The meeting of the Estates General on 5 May 1789 at Versailles
"Dix Août 1792. Siege et prise du Chateau des Tuileries": French soldiers and citizens storming the Tuileries to get the royal family and end the monarchy.

In 1788, she published Letters on the works and character of J.J. Rousseau.[10] This fervid panegyric, written for a limited number of friends - in which she accused his housekeeper Therese Levasseur having been unfaithful - she demonstrated evident talent, but little in the way of critical discernment. De Staël was at this time enthusiastic for a mixture of Rousseau's ideas about love and Montesquieu in politics. On 4 and 5 May 1789 she joined the meetings of the Estates-General in Versailles , where she met with the young Mathieu de Montmorency. Her father had instigated the assembling, doubling the number of deputies from the Third Estate. His address at the Estates-General was terribly miscalculated: his speech lasted for hours, and while those present expected a reforming policy to save the nation from bankruptcy, he gave them like a school teacher many financial data. This approach had serious repercussions on Necker's reputation leading to his resignation on 11 July, and prompted Camille Desmoulins the storming of the Bastille. Her parents left France on the same day in unpopularity and disgrace. Accompanied by Erik Magnus, their son-in-law, they escaped to Switzerland. Necker had lost half his fortune introducing assignats, invested in the public treasury.[11][12]

In January 1791 she went back to Paris. The increasing disturbances caused by the Revolution made her privileges as the consort of an ambassador very important safeguards. Germaine held a salon in the Swedish embassy, where she gave "coalition dinners", that were frequented by moderates as Talleyrand, De Narbonne, monarchists (Feuillants) as Barnave, Charles Lameth and his brothers Alexandre and Théodore, the Comte de Clermont-Tonnerre, and Pierre Victor, baron Malouet, the poet Abbé Delille, Thomas Jefferson, the one-legged Minister Plenipotentiary to France Gouverneur Morris, the leftish Barras and the radical Condorcets. "The issue of leadership, or rather lack of it, was central to Staël's preoccupations at this stage of her political reflection. The death of Comte de Mirabeau she experienced as a sign of great political disorientation and uncertainty. He was the only man with necessary charisma, energy, and prestige to keep revolutionary movement on the path of constitutional reform."[13]

After the French legislative election, 1791 was held, and the French Constitution of 1791 was announced in the National Assembly, she resigned from a political career and decided not to be re-eligible. "Fine arts and letters will occupy my leisure."[14] Though, in the succession of Comte de Montmorin the minister of Foreign Affairs, and the appointment of Louis, comte de Narbonne-Lara as minister of War she played an important role and became the center of the stage.[15] Marie Antoinette wrote to Hans Axel Fersen: "Count Louis de Narbonne is finally Minister of War, since yesterday; what a glory for Mme de Staël and what a joy for her to have the whole army, all to herself."[16] In 1792 the French Legislative Assembly saw an unprecedented turnover of ministers (six ministers of the interior, seven ministers of foreign affairs, and nine ministers of war.[17]) On 10 August 1792 Clermont-Tonnere was thrown out of a window, and trampled to death. De Staël offered Malouet a plan to escape to Dieppe for the royal family.[18] She helped De Narbonne, dismissed for plotting, to hide under the altar in the chapel of the Swedish embassy, and lectured the sans-culottes in the hall.[19][20][21][7] On 20 August De Narbonne arrived in England on a German passport.

On 2 September, the day before the September massacres of 1792 she fled her self, escorted by the procurator Louis Pierre Manuel and Jean-Lambert Tallien. Her carriage was stopped and the crowd forced her to go to the Paris town hall, where Robespierre seated.[22] Her own account of her escape is, as usual, so florid that it provokes the question whether she was really in any danger.

Salons at Coppet and Paris[edit]

Juniper Hall Plaque - - 1397178.jpg
Château de Coppet near Nyon
In 1797 Constant and De Staël lived in the remains of the Abbey of Herivaux.

After her flight from Paris, she moved to Rolle where Albert was born. She was surrounded by De Montmorency and the Marquis de Jaucourt.[23] In January 1793, she made a four months visit to England to live with her lover, the Comte de Narbonne at Juniper Hall. (Since 1 February France and Great Brittain were at war.) Within a few weeks she got pregnant, apparently one of the reasons she caused a scandal in England. According to Fanny Burney her father urged his daughter to avoid De Staël and the group of French Émigres in Surrey.[1] She met with Horace Walpole, James Mackintosh, Lord Sheffield, a friend of Edward Gibbon, and Lord Loughborough, the new Lord Chancellor.[1] De Staël was not favourably impressed by the conditions of women in English society.[1]

In the summer of 1793, she returned to Coppet Castle perhaps while De Narbonne stopped loving her. She wrote a biased depiction of the character of queen, called "Reflections on the Trial". For De Staël France had to follow England's example from absolute to limited royalty.[24] Living in Jouxtens-Mézery, Germaine was visited by Adolph Ribbing in July 1793.[7][23] Count Ribbing was living in exile, after being sentenced for taking part in a conspiracy to murder the Swedish king Gustav III. Under his influence it seems she converted to Republicanism.[23] At the same time Germaine helped several monarchists to escape from France. Late 1793 her parents moved to Beaulieu Castle. In September 1794 she was visited by the divorced Benjamin Constant. In May 1795 she moved with her new "colleague" to Paris. (The fall of Maximilien Robespierre opened the way back to Paris.) De Staël had rejected the idea of the right of resistance - which had been introduced by the French Constitution of 1793, but removed from the Constitution of 1795.[25] In 1796 she published Sur l'influence des passions, in which she praised suicide, and a book that attracted the attention of the German authors Schiller and Goethe.[26] For De Staël "passionate love is natural to human beings and to yield oneself to love will not result in abandoning virtue".[27]

Germaine had also an obsession with French politics,[28] and reopened her salon. It was during these years that Mme de Staël was of chief political importance. For a time she was conspicuous in the motley and eccentric society of the mid-1790s. On the 13 Vendémiaire the Comité de salut public ordered her to leave Paris after accusations of politicking, and locked up Constant for one night.[29] Germaine spent that autumn in Forges-les-Eaux, a spa. She was trusted by neither side and a threat to political stability.[30] The couple moved to Ormesson-sur-Marne where they lived with Montmorency. In Summer 1796 Constant founded "Cercle constitutionnel" in Luzarches; De Staël supported him.[31] In May 1797 she was back in Paris and eight months pregnant. She succeeded in getting Talleyrand from the list of Émigrés and in July in his appointment by Paul Barras as minister of Foreign Affairs.[32] Since the coup of 18 Fructidor (in September) anyone wishing to restore the monarchy or the French Constitution of 1793 would be shot without a trial.[33] Germaine moved to Saint-Ouen near Montmartre, on her father's estate and became friends with the beautiful and rich Juliette Récamier to whom she sold the parental house in the Rue de la Chaussée-d'Antin.

De Staël completed the initial part of her first most substantial contribution to political and constitutional theory, "Of present circumstances that can end the Revolution, and of the principles that must found the republic of France".[8] On 6 December 1797 at Talleyrand's office and 3 January 1798 during a ball she met with Napoleon. She made clear she did not agree with his planned French invasion of Switzerland, but he showed no interest and would not read her letters.[34]

Conflict with Napoleon[edit]

Bonaparte in 1803 by François Gérard

Both personal and political reasons threw her into opposition to Napoleon Bonaparte, in August 1802 elected as first consul for life. For De Staël Napoleon started to resemble Machiavelli; for Napoleon J.J. Rousseau was the cause of the French Revolution.[35] It culminated when Jacques Necker had published his "Last Views on Politics and Finance" and his daughter "De la littérature considérée dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales". It was her first philosophical approach to Europe, that dealt with such important factors as nationality, history and social institutions.[36] Napoleon started a campaign against this publication. He did not like her cultural determinism and generalizations, in which she stated that "an artist must be of his own time".[27][37] For him a woman should stick to knitting.[38] He said about her, according to the Memoirs of Madame de Rémusat, that she "teaches people to think who never thought before, or who had forgotten how to think."[39] It became pretty clear that the first man in France and the De Staël were not likely to get on together.[40] In January 1800 Benjamin Constant was appointed by Napoleon as a member of the Tribunat but he acted not long after as the first consul's enemy. Two years later the first consul forced him to withdraw because of his speeches that Napoléon Bonaparte thought were written by Mme de Staël.[27] In April 1802 she moved to Coppet.

De Staël published a provoking (anti-catholic) novel Delphine, in which the femme incomprise (misunderstood woman) living in Paris between 1789 and 1792, is confronted with conservative ideas about divorce after the Concordat of 1801. In this tragic novel, influenced by Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther and Rousseau's Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse, she reflects on the legal and practical aspects on divorce, the arrests and the September Massacres, and the fate of the émigrés. The main characters have traits of the flippant Benjamin Constant, and Talleyrand is depicted as an old woman, herself as the heroine with the liberalist view of the Italian aristocrat and politician Melzi d'Eril?[41] In December 1802 she sent Bernard-François, marquis de Chauvelin a copy.

When Constant moved to Maffliers in September 1803 De Staël went to see him and let Napoleon know she would be wise and careful. Immediately the house became very popular among her friends, but Napoleon, informed by Madame de Genlis suspected a conspiracy. "Her extensive network of connections - which included foreign diplomats and known political opponents, as well as members of the government and of Bonaparte's own family - was in itself a source of suspicion and alarm for the government."[42] Her protection of Jean Gabriel Peltier - who wished the death of Napoleon - influenced his decision on 13 October 1803 to exile her without a trial.[43] For ten years De Staël was not allowed to settle within a distance of 40 leagues (almost 200 km) from Paris. She accused Napoleon of "persecuting a woman and her children".[44] On 23 October she left for Germany "out of pride",[45] in the hope to gain attention and to be able to return as soon as possible.[46]

German travels[edit]

Weimar around 1800 by Georg Melchior Kraus
François Gérard (1770–1837), Carnavalet Museum. Mme. de Staël as her character Corinne (posthumously)
Château de Chaumont

With her children and Constant she journeyed by Metz, met with Kant's translator Charles de Villers. They arrived mid-December in Weimar, where she stayed for two and a half months at the court of Karl August, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and his mother. She was constantly moving, talking and asking questions.[47][27] The interchange of ideas and their conversation with the literary, and philosophical Goethe, Schiller, and Wieland, would later inspire De Staël to write one of the most influential books of the nineteenth century,[48] recounting her travels in Germany. Actually, Goethe became ill and hesitated to see her. An irritated Schiller felt relieved when she left, but also Constant decided to leave her in Leipzig and return to Switzerland. De Staël travelled to Berlin, where she made the acquaintance of August Schlegel, giving lectures on literature. In the false hope to become her lover, she appointed him as the private teacher of her children on an enormous salary. On 18 April they left Berlin when the news of her father's death reached her. Constant decided to return to Weimar and assisted her.

On 19 May she arrived in Coppet and found herself its wealthy and independent mistress, but her sorrow for her father was deep and certainly sincere. She spent the summer at the chateau arranging her father's writings, and published an essay on his private life. In July Constant wrote: "She exerts over everything around her a kind of inexplicable but very real power. If she could govern herself, she might have governed the world."[49] In December 1804 she journeyed to Italy, accompanied by her children, Schlegel and the historian Sismondi. She met with the poet Vincenzo Monti and the painter Angelica Kauffman. "Her visit to Italy helped her to further develop her theory of the difference between northern and southern societies..."[1]

She returned to Coppet in June 1805, moved to Meulan (Château d'Acosta) and spent nearly a year in writing her next book on Italy's culture and history. In 1807 Corinne, òu L'Italie, a female hero appeared, whose protagonist was inspired by the Italian poet Diodata Saluzzo Roero.[50] She showed all of Italy's works of art in place, not plundered by Napoleon and brought back to France.[51] The publication was taken as a reminder of her existence, and Napoleon sent her back to Coppet. Her house was according to Stendhal "the general headquarters of European thought" and became a debating club against Napoleon, "turning conquered Europe into the parody of a feudal empire, with his own relatives in the role of vassal states".[52] Madame Récamier, also banned by Napoleon, Prince Augustus of Prussia, Charles Victor de Bonstetten, Prosper de Barante, Claude Hochet, Zacharias Werner, Adelbert von Chamisso and Chateaubriand all belonged to the "groupe de Coppet".[53] Each day the table was laid for about thirty guests. Talking seemed everybody's chief business. She invited the (obscure) Danish poet Friederike Brun to live with her.

For a time she had lived with Constant in Auxerre (1806), Rouen (1807), Aubergenville (1807), met with Friedrich Schlegel, whose wife Dorothea translated Corinne into German. (Schlegel and Madame de Staël have endeavoured to reduce poetry to two systems, classical and romantic.) The use of the word Romanticism was invented by Schlegel, but spread more widely in France by its persistent use by Madame de Staël.[54] Late 1807 she set out for Vienna and visited Maurice O'Donnell, who she had met before in Venice.[55] She was accompanied by her children and August Schlegel who held his famous lectures. She was again at Coppet in the summer of 1808 (in which year Benjamin Constant was afraid to tell her he had married in between). "If men had the qualities of women, Staël wrote, love would simply cease to be a problem."[56] De Staël set to work at her book on Germany - a country that did not exist until the Congress of Vienna - in which she presented Germany as an ethical and aesthetic model and praised German literature and philosophy.[57]

Pretending to emigrate to the US, De Staël was giving permission to enter France. Looking around in Chaumont-sur-Loire De Staël moved in Château de Chaumont (1810) which she hired from James Le Ray, and to Fossé and Vendôme. She was determined to publish De l'Allemagne in France; a book in which she called French political structures into question, so indirectly criticized Napoleon, promoting French culture and theatre. Straining under censorship, she wrote to the emperor a provoking and perhaps undignified letter.[citation needed] Anne Jean Marie René Savary emphatically forbade the publication of the book as being “un-French" and catch a boat as she had pretended.[58][59] In October 1810 De Staël was exiled again and had to leave France within three days. Then August Schlegel was ordered to leave Swiss Confederation as an enemy of the French literature. She found consolation in a wounded officer named Albert de Rocca, twenty-three years her junior, whom she engaged privately in 1811 (and married publicly in 1816).[27]

Eastern Europe[edit]

De Staël in 1812 by Vladimir Borovikovsky
August Wilhelm von Schlege

The operations of the imperial police in regard to Mme de Staël are rather obscure. She was at first left undisturbed, but by degrees the chateau itself became taboo, and her visitors found themselves punished heavily. François-Emmanuel Guignard, De Montmorency and Mme Récamier were exiled for the crime of seeing her. She remained at home during the winter of 1811, planning to escape to England or Sweden with the manuscript. On 23 May 1812 she left Coppet almost secretly, and journeyed through Bern, Innsbruck and Salzburg on her way to Vienna, where she met with Metternich. There she obtained an Austrian passport to the frontier, and after some fears and trouble, receiving a Russian passport in Brody.

During Napoleon's invasion of Russia De Staël, two children, and Schlegel journeyed through the Habsburg empire from Brno to Łańcut where Rocca, deserting the French army and searched by the French gendarmerie, was waiting for her. The journey continued to Lemberg, capital of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. On 14 July 1812 they arrived in Volhynia. In the meantime, Napoleon, who took a more northern route, had crossed the Neman River with his army. In Kiev she met Miloradovich, governor of the city. De Staël hesitated to travel to Odessa, Constantinople, and Greece, but decided to go north. In Moscow she was invited by the governor Fyodor Rostopchin. According to De Staël, it was Rostopchin who ordered to set his mansion on fire, which spread in the city with 1,600 churches. She left only a few weeks before Napoleon arrived. Til the end of September, they stayed in Saint Petersburg. She met twice with the tsar Alexander I of Russia who "related to me also the lessons a la Machiavel which Napoleon had thought proper to give him.

"You see," said he, "I am careful to keep my ministers and generals at variance among themselves, in order that each may reveal to me the faults of the other; I keep up with me a continual jealousy by the manner I treat those who are about me: one day one thinks himself the favorite, the next day another, so that no one is ever certain of my favor."[60]

For De Staël that was a vulgar and vicious theory. General Kutuzov sent her letters from the Battle of Tarutino[61] and before the end of that year he would succeed in chasing the Grande Armée out of Russia.

After four months travelling she arrived in Sweden, the crossing of the Bothnian Gulf by boat had frightened her. In Stockholm she started "Ten Year's Exile", giving details on whom she had met and explaining what she had seen. She never finished the manuscript and after eight months she set out for England; without August Schlegel who was appointed as the secretary of general Bernadotte. (She supported Bernadotte as the new ruler of France, who she hoped would introduce a constitutional monarchy.[62]) In London she received a brilliant reception. She met with Lord Byron on the first evening (27 May). The next day they dined at Sir Humphry Davy's, a chemist and inventor. In the evening De Staël made very long speeches, according to Byron. She preached English politics to the first of our English Whig politicians ... preached politics no less to our Tory politicians the day after."[63] Her stay was saddened by the death of her son Albert, who had entered the Swedish army and fell in a duel with a Cossack officer in Doberan brought on by gambling. In October John Murray published both De l'Allemagne in French and in an English translation, in which she reflected on nationalism and suggested a re-consideration on cultural instead of natural boundaries.[64] In May 1814, after Louis XVIII had been crowned (Bourbon Restauration) she returned to Paris. She undertook Considérations sur la révolution française, based on Part One of "Ten Year' Exile". Again her salon became a major attraction for Parisians and foreigners.


Lord Byron, ca 1816

When news came of Napoleon's landing on the Côte d'Azur, between Cannes and Antibes, early March 1815 she fled to Coppet, and never forgave Constant approving Napoleon's return.[65] Although she had no affection for the Bourbons she succeeded in obtaining restitution of the loan Necker had made to the French state before the Revolution.[66] In October, after the Battle of Waterloo, she set out for Italy, not only for the sake of her own health but for that of her second husband, Rocca, who was suffering from tuberculosis. In May her 19-year-old daughter Albertine married Victor, 3rd duc de Broglie in Livorno.

The whole family returned to Coppet in June, and Lord Byron a womanizer and a gambler in debt, left London in great trouble and frequently visited Mme de Staël in July and August. For Byron, she was Europe's greatest living writer, but ...with her pen behind her ears and her mouth full of ink". "Byron was particularly critical of Staël's self-dramatizing tendencies..."[67] Byron was a supporter of Napoleon, but for De Staël "Bonaparte was not only a man but a system..." "Napoleon imposed standards of homogeneity on Europe—French taste, literature, art and legal systems—which Staël saw as inimical to this cosmopolitan point of view."[67] Byron wrote she was "... sometimes right and often wrong about Italy and England - but almost always true in delineating the heart, which is of but of one nation of no country or rather of all."[68]

Despite her increasing ill-health, she returned to Paris for the winter of 1816–17. Constant argued with De Staël who had asked him to pay his debts. A warm friendship sprang up between Madame de Staël and the Duke of Wellington, whom she had first met in 1814, and she used her influence with him to have the size of the Army of Occupation greatly reduced.[69] But she had already become confined to her house in 40, rue des Mathurins, paralyzed since 21 February. She died on 14 July. Her deathbed conversion to Roman Catholicism surprised many, including Wellington, who remarked that while he knew that she was greatly afraid of death, he had thought her incapable of believing in the afterlife.[70] Rocca survived her by little more than six months. "Yet although she insisted to the Duke of Wellington that she needed politics in order to live, her attitude towards the propriety of female political engagement varied: at times she declared that women should simply be the guardians of domestic space for the opposite sex, at others that denying women access to the public sphere of activism and engagement was an abuse of human rights. This paradox partly explains the persona of the “homme-femme” she presented in society, and it remained unresolved throughout her life."[71]

Albertine Necker de Saussure, married to her cousin, wrote a biography, in 1821 published as part of the collected works. Auguste Comte included Mme de Staël in his Calendar of Great Men. Her political legacy has been generally identified with a stern defense of "liberal" values: civil equality, individual freedom and the limitation of power by constitutional rules.[72] Comte's disciple Frederic Harrison wrote about De Staël that her novels "precede the works of Scott, Byron, Mary Shelley, and partly of Chateaubriand, their historical importance is great in the development of modern Romanticism, of the romance of the heart, the delight in nature, and in the art, antiquities, and history of Europe."


Louis-Marie de Narbonne
Benjamin Constant

Besides two short-lived daughters Gustava Sofia Magdalena (born July 1787) and Gustava Hedvig (died August 1789) she had two sons Auguste (August 1790–1827), Albert (November 1792– July 1813), and a daughter Hedvig Gustava Albertina (June 1797–1838). It is believed Louis, Comte de Narbonne-Lara was the father of Ludvig August and Albert, and Benjamin Constant the father of red-haired Albertine.[73] Even when she gave birth there were fifteen people in her bedroom.[74]

After the death of her husband, Mathieu de Montmorency became the legal guardian of her children. Like August Schlegel he was one of her intimates at Coppet til the end of her life. With Albert de Rocca De Staël, aged 46, had one son, the retarded Louis-Alphonse de Rocca (April 1812–1842), who would marry Marie-Louise-Antoinette de Rambuteau, daughter of Claude-Philibert Barthelot de Rambuteau,[27] and granddaughter of De Narbonne.[75]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Republican activist Victor Gold quoted Madame de Staël when characterizing American Vice President Dick Cheney, "Men do not change, they unmask themselves."
  • De Staël is credited in Tolstoy's epilogue to War and Peace as a factor of the 'influential forces' which historians say led to the movement of humanity in that era.[76]
  • The popular wrestling compilation series Botchamania has referenced her on several occasions saying One must choose in life, between boredom and suffering which is normally followed by a humorous joke.
  • Mme de Staël is used several times to characterize Mme de Grandet in Stendhal's Lucien Leuwen.
  • Mme de Staël is mentioned several times, always approvingly, by Russia's national poet, Alexander Pushkin.
  • Mme de Staël is frequently quoted by Ralph Waldo Emerson and she is credited with introducing him to recent German thought.[77]
  • Talleyrand observed with his customary cynicism that Germaine enjoyed throwing people overboard simply to have the pleasure of fishing them out of the water again.[78]
  • Sismondi accused De Staël of a lack of tact, when they were travelling through Italy and wrote Mme De Staël was easily bored if she had to pay attention to things.
  • For Heinrich Heine she was the "grandmother of doctrines".[79]
  • For Byron she was "a good woman at heart and the cleverest at bottom, but spoilt by a wish to be -- she not was. In her own house she was amiable; in any other person's, you wished her gone, and in her own again.[80]


Delphine, 1803 edition.
De l'Allemagne
  • Journal de Jeunesse, 1785
  • Sophie ou les sentiments secrets, 1786 (published anonymously in 1790)
  • Jane Gray, 1787 (published in 1790)
  • Lettres sur le caractère et les écrits de J.-J. Rousseau, 1788 [81]
  • Éloge de M. de Guibert
  • À quels signes peut-on reconnaître quelle est l'opinion de la majorité de la nation?
  • Réflexions sur le procès de la Reine, 1793
  • Zulma : fragment d'un ouvrage, 1794
  • Réflexions sur la paix adressées à M. Pitt et aux Français, 1795
  • Réflexions sur la paix intérieure
  • Recueil de morceaux détachés (comprenant : Épître au malheur ou Adèle et Édouard, Essai sur les fictions et trois nouvelles : Mirza ou lettre d'un voyageur, Adélaïde et Théodore et Histoire de Pauline), 1795
  • Essai sur les fictions, translated by Goethe into German
  • De l'influence des passions sur le bonheur des individus et des nations, 1796 [82]
  • Des circonstances actuelles qui peuvent terminer la Révolution et des principes qui doivent fonder la République en France
  • De la littérature dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales, 1799
  • Delphine, 1802 deals with the question of woman's status in a society hidebound by convention and faced with a Revolutionary new order
  • Vie privée de Mr. Necker, 1804
  • Épîtres sur Naples
  • Corinne, ou l'Italie, 1807 is as much a travelogue as a fictional narrative. It discusses the problems of female artistic creativity in two radically different cultures, England and Italy.
  • Agar dans le désert
  • Geneviève de Brabant
  • La Sunamite
  • Le capitaine Kernadec ou sept années en un jour (comédie en deux actes et en prose)
  • La signora Fantastici
  • Le mannequin (comédie)
  • Sapho
  • De l'Allemagne, 1813, translated as Of Germany 1813.[83]
  • Réflexions sur le suicide, 1813
  • Morgan et trois nouvelles, 1813
  • De l'esprit des traductions
  • Considérations sur les principaux événements de la révolution française, depuis son origine jusques et compris le 8 juillet 1815, 1818 (posthumously) [84]
  • Dix Années d'Exil (1818), posthumously published in France by Mdm Necker de Saussure. In 1821 translated and published as Ten Years' Exile. Memoirs of That Interesting Period of the Life of the Baroness De Stael-Holstein, Written by Herself, during the Years 1810, 1811, 1812, and 1813, and Now First Published from the Original Manuscript, by Her Son.[85]
  • Essais dramatiques, 1821
  • Oeuvres complètes 17 t., 1820-21
  • Oeuvres complètes de Madame la Baronne de Staël-Holstein [Complete works of Madame Baron de Staël-Holstein]. Paris: Firmin Didot frères. 1836.  Volume 1  · Volume 2

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Lord Byron and Germaine de Staël by Silvia Bordoni, The University of Nottingham 2005
  2. ^ Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution ..., Band 2 by Madame de Staël, p. 46
  3. ^ Mémoires de Madame de Chastenay, 1771–1815
  4. ^ L. Moore (2007) Liberty. The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France, p. 15
  5. ^ a b Saintsbury 1911, p. 750.
  6. ^ Casillo, R. (13 May 2006). "The Empire of Stereotypes: Germaine de Staël and the Idea of Italy". Springer – via Google Books. 
  7. ^ a b c
  8. ^ a b Stael and the French Revolution Introduction by Aurelian Craiutu
  9. ^ Napoleon's nemesis
  10. ^ Historical & literary memoirs and anecdotes by Friedrich Melchior Grimm and Denis Diderot, H. Colburn, 1815, p. 353.
  11. ^ Voltaire, Rousseau, Condorcet, Mirabeau, Madame Roland, Madame De Stael, p. 311. by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  12. ^ L. Moore, p. 334
  13. ^ Biancamaria Fontana (2016) Germaine de Staël: A Political Portrait, p. 30. Princeton: Princeton University Press
  14. ^ B. Fontana, p. 33
  15. ^ B. Fontana, p. 37, 41, 44
  16. ^ Correspondance (1770-1793). Published by Évelyne Lever. Paris 2005, p. 660, 724
  17. ^ B. Fontana, p. 49
  18. ^ "Mémoires de Malouet", p. 221
  19. ^ B. Fontana, p. 61
  20. ^ L. Moore, p. 138
  21. ^ Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël von J. Christopher Herold
  22. ^ Voltaire, Rousseau, Condorcet, Mirabeau, Madame Roland, Madame De Stael by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, p. 317
  23. ^ a b c Selected Correspondence by Anne Louise Germaine de Staël
  24. ^ Fontana, p. 113
  25. ^ Fontana, p. 125
  26. ^ Olaf Müller: Madame de Staël und Weimar. Europäische Dimensionen einer Begegnung. In: Hellmut Th. Seemann (Hrsg.): Europa in Weimar. Visionen eines Kontinents. Jahrbuch der Klassik Stiftung Weimar 2008. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag 2008, p. 29.
  27. ^ a b c d e f Anne-Louise-Germaine Necker, Baroness de Staël-Holstein (1766-1817) by Petri Liukkonen
  28. ^ L. Moore, p. 332
  29. ^ B. Fontana, p. 178; L. Moore, p. 335
  30. ^ L. Moore, p. 345, 349
  31. ^ Fontana, p.159
  32. ^ Fontana, p. 159
  33. ^ L. Moore, p. 348
  34. ^ L. Moore, p. 350-352
  35. ^ Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution ..., p. 90, 95-96, Band 2 by Madame de Staël
  36. ^ Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution ..., Band 2 by Madame de Staël, p. 42
  37. ^ A. Goodden (2000) Delphine and Corinne, p. 18
  38. ^ L. Moore, p. 379
  39. ^ Memoirs of Madame de Remusat, trans. Cashel Hoey and John Lillie, p. 407.
  40. ^ Saintsbury 1911, p. 751.
  41. ^ From the Introduction to Madame de Staël (1987) Delphine. Edition critique par S. Balayé & L. Omacini. Librairie Droz S.A. Génève
  42. ^ Fontana, p. 204
  43. ^ "Un journaliste contre-révolutionnaire, Jean-Gabriel Peltier (1760–1825) – Etudes Révolutionnaires". 7 October 2011. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  44. ^ Fontana, p. 263, note 47
  45. ^ Fontana, p. 205
  46. ^ Olaf Müller: Madame de Staël und Weimar. Europäische Dimensionen einer Begegnung. In: Hellmut Th. Seemann (Hrsg.): Europa in Weimar. Visionen eines Kontinents. Jahrbuch der Klassik Stiftung Weimar 2008. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag 2008, p. 292
  47. ^ Madame de Staël von Klaus -Werner Haupt
  48. ^ Fontana, p. 206
  49. ^ Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël by J. Christopher Herold
  50. ^ Panizza, Letizia; Wood, Sharon. A History of Women's Writing in Italy. p. 144. 
  51. ^ A. Goodden (2000), p. 61
  52. ^ Fontana, p. 230
  53. ^ Herold, J. Christopher. Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël. Grove Press, 2002. p. 290. ISBN 0802138373
  54. ^ Ferber, Michael (2010) Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-956891-8.
  55. ^ Madame de Staël et Maurice O’Donnell (1805–1817), d’apres des letters inedites, by Jean Mistler, published by Calmann-Levy, Editeurs, 3 rue Auber, Paris, 1926.
  56. ^ A. Goodden (2000), p. 73
  57. ^ Olaf Müller: Madame de Staël und Weimar. Europäische Dimensionen einer Begegnung. In: Hellmut Th. Seemann (Hrsg.): Europa in Weimar. Visionen eines Kontinents. Jahrbuch der Klassik Stiftung Weimar 2008. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag 2008
  58. ^ Ten Years of Exile, pt. II, chap. i, 101–10
  59. ^ Fontana, p. 206
  60. ^ Ten Years's Exile, chapter 17
  61. ^ Tolstoy, Leo (21 June 2017). The Complete Works of Leo Tolstoy. Musaicum Books. pp. 2583–. ISBN 978-80-7583-455-3. Retrieved 12 April 2018. 
  62. ^ A. Zamoyski (2007) Rites of Peace. The fall of Napoleon & the Congress of Vienna, p. 105
  63. ^ The Complete Miscellaneous Prose, p. 184-185. Ed. by Andrew Nicholson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).
  64. ^ Lord Byron and Germaine de Staël by Silvia Bordoni, p. 4
  65. ^ Fontana, p. 227
  66. ^ Fontana, p. 208
  67. ^ a b Joanne Wilkes, Lord Byron and Madame de Staël: Born for Opposition. London: Ashgate, 1999. ISBN 1-84014699-0.
  68. ^ The Complete Miscellaneous Prose, p. 223-224. Ed. by Andrew Nicholson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).
  69. ^ Longford, Elizabeth (1972) Wellington-Pillar of State, p.38. Weidenfeld and Nicholson. London.
  70. ^ Longford p.38
  71. ^ The Man-Woman and the Idiot: Madame de Staël's Public/Private Life Goodden, Angelica. Forum for Modern Language Studies, 2007, Vol. 43(1), pp.34-45
  72. ^ Fontana, p. 234
  73. ^ Angelica Goodden. Madame de Staël: the dangerous exile. Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 31?
  74. ^ Lucy Moore, p. 8
  75. ^ L. Moore, p. 390
  76. ^ Abramowitz, Michael (2 April 2007). "Rightist Indignation". Washington Post. Retrieved 30 June 2007. 
  77. ^ "Emerson - Roots - Madame DeStael". 
  78. ^ L. Moore, p. 350
  79. ^ Sämtliche Schriften (Anm. 2), Bd. 3, S. 882 f.
  80. ^ The Complete Miscellaneous Prose, p. 222. Ed. by Andrew Nicholson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).
  82. ^ A Treatise on the influence of Passions on the Happiness of indivuals and of nations
  83. ^ Of Germany
  84. ^ Considérations sur les principaux événements de la révolution française
  85. ^ Ten Years' Exile by Madame de Staël


  • Biancamaria Fontana (2016) Germaine de Staël: A Political Portrait. Princeton University Press.
  • Angelica Goodden (2008) Madame de Staël : the dangerous exile. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199238095 ISBN 019923809X

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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