Delphine and its Aftermath

Angelica Goodden

in Madame de Staël

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780199238095
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191716669 | DOI:
 Delphine and its Aftermath

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While denying the charge of political involvement through fiction, Staël now decides to smuggle in a critique of prevailing orthodoxies under the skirts of a novel. Delphine, which praises certain freedoms while attacking certain patriarchal orthodoxies, seems calculated to enrage Napoleon, and effectively does so. It is an exile narrative par excellence, depicting women who for a variety of reasons cannot live in society, but find protection and a degree of fulfilment outside it; yet it is a very noisy book for one dedicated to ‘la France silencieuse’. Predictably, it earns Staël renewed exile, not least because Napoleon's vague suspicions about the way she stirs up opposition to his regime start to crystallize. Just before she departs again for Switzerland she tries to renew her abortive friendship for Fanny Burney, who has crossed the Channel during the brief lull in hostilities between France and England in 1802, but Burney's timidity and prudishness foil the initiative.

Keywords: Delphine; exile narrative; Napoleon; woman's status; Fanny Burney; prudishness

Chapter.  15645 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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