Claudine-Alexandrine Guerin de Tencin: Memoirs of the Count of Comminge and The Misfortunes of Love

The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe - The Toronto Series , Vol. 48

Claudine-Alexandrine Guérin de Tencin: Memoirs of the Count of Comminge and The Misfortunes of Love

Edited by Jonathan Walsh
2016 | 147 + xiv pp. | 978-0-86698-554-3 | Paperback 6 x 9 in
MRTS 499 | $31.95 |

OVEME v.48.


Over the last several decades we have discovered, in the novels of Jane Austen, a new continent of feminine fiction that is reshaping our understanding of her time. These early nineteenth-century novels would probably not exist were it not for the creations of Claudine-Alexandrine de Tencin and others like her from the reign of Louis XV. De Tencin personally experienced the constraints society imposed on all women who dared to affirm their desire or their will. Barred from the political sphere, she at least gained a new type of freedom in her love life, in the direction of her salon, and in her fictional inventions. Jonathan Walsh’s project deserves applause for making available in English these narratives intimately linked to the clarity of classical French, but which can be expressed in other languages.
—Michel Delon
Professeur des universités, Paris IV, Sorbonne


The Misfortunes of Love (1747) is the last completed novel by Claudine-Alexandrine de Tencin. Like her friend Marivaux, she explores the secret movements of the heart through the unfortunate destinies of three women: Pauline the wealthy heiress of a financier, Eugénie the poor aristocrat victim of her own caste, and Hippolyte the commoner, a jailer’s daughter in love with Pauline’s lover, Barbasan. Betrayals, misunderstandings, and false situations are progressively revealed by a polyphonic narration which works like a jigsaw. The treatment of these torn couples extends the plot of the Memoirs of the Count of Comminge (1735), in which the male narrator’s flaws contrast sharply with the passionate energy of his lover, Adélaïde. Anticipating Charrière’s and Staël’s novels, Tencin examines heroism and the ethics of love from a feminine point of view.
—Eric Leborgne
Maître de conférences of Eighteenth-century French Literature, Paris III, Sorbonne Nouvelle