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Madame Palatine
Madame Palatine

Press Release - 15 November 2007

Free public lecture discusses Madame Palatine

The intriguing history of Madame Palatine, sister-in-law of the French King Louis XIV, will be discussed in an inaugural lecture next week at the University of Bath (Wednesday 21 November at 6.15pm).

William Brooks, Professor of French at the University, will explain how the German princess’s earthy descriptions of life at the French court, in thousands of letters to friends and family, were misinterpreted thanks to hostility between the two nations in the 19th century.

“When her letters were published in the 19th century, the Germans came to view her as an innocent victim of immoral French behaviour,” said Professor Brooks. “In response, the French attacked her as an ignorant German who made things up and expressed herself largely through profanities and obscenities.

“Only British and American commentators have consistently adopted a balanced approach, showing that she was neither the innocent victim that German commentators claimed, nor the uncouth and untruthful fantasist that the French said her to be.

“Even today, these contradictory perceptions have not been entirely eradicated in either country.”

Professor Brooks specialises in 17th century French drama and was first drawn to the life of Madame Palatine through her descriptions of Parisian plays, written over the course of almost daily visits to the theatre spanning 51 years.

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of translated versions, Madame Palatine is an important witness to the events of her times and someone who exhibits in her writings her honesty and her humanity.”

He has published two books on his research into Madame Palatine, the most recent entitled Artists’ images and the self-descriptions of Elizabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Orleans (1652-1722), the Second Madame.

Free tickets for the lecture are available from Sheila Willmott, tel 01225 386631 or email Free parking is available in the West car park. The talk begins at 6.15pm in lecture theatre 2 East 3.1 on the University of Bath campus.

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