The Princess of Cleves, often called the first modern French novel, was published anonymously in 1678 and was received with enthusiasm by its contemporary audience.
The text of this Norton Critical Edition is that of Thomas Sargent Perry's 1892 translation, indisputably the translation that has best served readers in English. Reprinted repeatedly over the last one hundred years, the Perry translation is a classic in its own right. After careful review, the editor has corrected minor infelicities of translation (necessary to remain true to Lafayette's text) and updated vocabulary.
To experience the innovation of Lafayette's writing, it is necessary to understand the critical resistance it met with in seventeenth-century France.
"Contemporary Reactions" includes five assessments of The Princess of Cleves—by Marie-Madeleine de Lafayette herself, Roger de Bussy-Rabutin and Marie de Sévigné, Jean-Baptiste-Henry du Trousset de Valincour, Jean-Antoine de Charnes, and Du Plaisir—following its controversial publication. John Lyons's translations for this Norton Critical Edition make these reactions available in English for the first time.
"Criticism" includes eleven modern studies of the novel, five of which appear here in English for the first time, by Jean Fabre, Michel Butor, Jean Rousset, Helen Karen Kaps, Gérard Genette, Roger Francillon, Kurt Weinberg, Peggy Kamuf, Erica Harth, Joan DeJean, and Laurence Gregario.
A Glossary of Characters and a Selected Bibliography are also included.