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Memoirs of the Life of Henriette-Sylvie de Moliere

A Novel

Edited and translated by Donna Kuizenga
Known as Madame de Villedieu, Marie-Catherine Desjardins (ca. 1640-83) was a prolific writer who played an important role in the evolution of the early modern French novel. One of the earliest women to write for a living, she defied cultural convention by becoming an innovator and appealing to popular tastes through fiction, drama, and poetry.

Memoirs of the Life of Henriette-Sylvie de Molière, a semi autobiographical novel, portrays an enterprising woman who writes the story of her life, a complex tale that runs counter to social expectations and novelistic conventions. A striking work, the story skillfully mixes real events from the author’s life with fictional adventures. At a time when few women published, Villedieu’s Memoirs is a significant achievement in creating a voice for the early modern woman writer. Produced while the French novel form was still in its infancy, it should be welcomed by any scholar of women’s writing or the early development of the novel.

225 pages | 2 maps | 6 x 9 | © 2004

The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe

History: European History

Literature and Literary Criticism: Romance Languages

Women's Studies


"The Memoirs constitute a ground-breaking, wonderfully hybrid text: picaresque novel? Fictional autobiography? Epistolary novel? All of the above, in fact. . . . This version of the Memoirs should be easily accessible to advanced undergraduates, and it would certainly be an important text to use in undergraduate or graduate seminars that discuss gender and/or the history of the novel. Ideally, the Memoirs would figure into an interdisciplinary course on early modern writers."

Stephanie O'Hara | H-France Review

“This is a seminal work of women’s fiction which deserves to be more widely read and studied. This translation will ensure the text features more prominently on the undergraduate syllabus.”

Pollie Bromilow | Journal of European Studies

 “Donna Kuizenga’s translation of Madame de Villedieu’s Memoirs of the Life of Henriette-Sylvie de Molière makes an important and timely contribution to the fields of seventeenth-century French literature, womens studies, and comparative literature. Kuizenga skillfully investigates the boundaries between fiction and history and the relationship between playful disguise and autobiography in Villedieu’s

seminal text.”

Roxanne Lalande, Lafayette College

Table of Contents

Madame de Villedieu, a Woman on Her Own
Volume Editor’s Bibliography
Memoirs of the Life of Henriette-Sylvie de Molière
Fragment of a Letter
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Series Editors’ Bibliography

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