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Simone Bertiere

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Simone Bertiere

Post  Didishroom on Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:22 am

Has anyone read the newly released and translated biography by Simone Bertiere, "The Indomitable Marie Antoinette?' I just finished it and have a lot of mixed feelings on it and was wondering about other people's reactions. It's supposed to be the 'best' biography of the Queen and has been translated out of French for the first time.

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Re: Simone Bertiere

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:39 am

My thoughts exactly!!

I think some things are literally being lost in translation. Words tend to have different meanings in another language. I'm sure in its original French, it is as wonderful as everyone says.

However, in English, some things may not come across as intended. For example, there appears to be the view that Antoinette did indeed sleep with Fersen, or that it was possible. And if she didn't, well, she was still in love with him. But the book also says the true nature of the relationship can't be proven. From what I heard from others reading it in its original form, Bertiere makes no such claim and does not appear to aspire to the Fersen story.

Furthermore, I disagreed with the view that Antoinette found her husband dull and was not the least bit in love with him, until, perhaps the end. While they didn't have much in common, certainly not at the beginning, they grew to become very loving and devoted. Just because he wasn't her choice or the type to "inspire love and passion" doesn't mean she didn't genuinely love him. Louis was devoted to her and devotion and fidelity mean more than wild romance and passion.

I believe her consummation theory to be plausible. I don't have many problems with this view except I don't think Antoinette found the task "abominable." I can understand an initial aversion to sex if it were painful, and the fact that they were so young, but I don't think she disliked relations with her husband. She wasn't supposed to, as women were expected to bear children, especially in her case. But why not? She wrote ecstatically to her mother about it. I don't think she was just trying to reassure her either!

Perhaps she did view intercourse as a sacred duty, but couldn't she also enjoy it? I firmly believe she loved her husband and he was much better looking than people give him credit for. Why couldn't she be attracted to him? Why does it always have to be "le beau Fersen?"

MA may have been a rebel, as the book claims. But I think that view goes a little too far....let me know what others think!

I really would be interested to read this book in French as I'm sure it will get the right points across!
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Re: Simone Bertiere

Post  Didishroom on Tue Jul 01, 2014 1:52 pm

Yes! I seem to recall Elena using Betiere as a source that doesn't adhere to the Ferson theory. I was so confused when she kept saying MA was "in love with him." Everywhere else in the book she quotes ad nauseum every snippet of information passed between Mercy MA and the empress but alas!; no such quotes are provided that even hint at any romantic feelings for Ferson! The only opinion she can quote is the minster Saint-Priest(I believe that was is name) who she admits was biased against the queen. So we are to believe that MA and Ferson were in love and flaunting a relationship but her two critical spies, Mercy and Vermond, never bothered to even mention it? And then Betiere goes on to give the exact reasons why they would't have been lovers in a carnal sense; that MA was too proud of her august position to risk carrying a non royal baby. So MA was too much of a self important royalist narcissist to bear another man's lowly seed but they are still referred to as "lovers"........ Rolling Eyes 

And the hammering of her view that MA never loved Louis and that she only missed him after his death because she needed a father figure? Um beg pardon but where the hell does she get such a view? Sources? Proofs, please? How do you know what's in her heart? Is Ms. Betiere a reader of souls as well as historian?

I also couldn't stand the tired and overly simplistic narrative that EVERY biographer makes in which they trace MA's downfall from her slights and faux pas to her somehow inevitable demise! Bertiere does admit that MA didn't cause the Revolution but seems to think that she "asked for it" when it came to her fate. It is impossible to give a thorough examination of MA and Louis without truly understanding the Revolution itself. Webster is the only historian that I know of to do this(I just bought Vincent Cronin's book but haven't read it yet).

I was also shocked that she defended the Simons and insisted they never abused Louis Charles. Yes they did initially treat him very well, buying him gifts and Madame Simon herself went to the grave defending her husband. No biographer denies these facts. Yet it very much documented from multiple sources that after receiving pressure from the Commune that Simon employed many brutal and brainwashing tactics against Louis Charles: sleep deprivation, physical abuses, subserviences, condemnation of his family and station in life, alcohol consumption and exposure to pornography were just the tip of the iceberg.

I do like her perspective on MA as indomitable. MA did have a resolve that came off as hautiness and defiance to some and independence and individuality to others.

Whatever the greatness of Maria Theresa she did seem to drop the ball on her youngest children. MA was completely unprepared for her role and her mother exasperated things with her mixed messages, bad examples and outright contradictions. This does not soil Maria Theresa's reputation as a ruler or even a mother. She was a recent widow and was doing her best to correct her neglect of her youngest children. As the sixth of seven children I know what's it's like for parents of big families.

I am happy that the author also didn't take down Louis to build sympathy for MA. She seems to have gone the other direction which is very surprising especially for a female author. What find most interesting is that Louis was the only French king to have no military experience or training which can explain his indecisiveness when it came to choices that could lead to deaths. He was a great moral role model but no leader or aspirer of men. He would have made a better abbot or bishop, not king.

There were a lot of other points, good and bad about the book but those are the ones that jump at me for the moment.

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Re: Simone Bertiere

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:08 pm

You are so right!! Smile

It was almost as if she couldn't make up her mind about Fersen and was looking at it from both sides of the coin. Personally I can see where people would get the idea they were lovers. To our 21st century eyes, where men and women are still perceived as more than friends, it makes sense. But there's not enough evidence

And I did get the feeling that she thought she knew what was in MA's heart as well, with Louis and Fersen. Ok, so maybe I'm biased in favor of Louis and make assumptions about her love for him but we can see from her words and actions that she did love him.

I am so glad she portrayed Louis as sympathetic. Too often MA is redeemed at his expense! Neither one was perfect and I, as well as Elena, have been accused of over idolizing them. I know they weren't perfect. But they certainly didn't deserve their end or their reputations as immoral and greedy people!

They were treated horribly during their lifetime and history has perpetuated the wrong views of them. Granted, it's better now. People are more educated. But still, either one or both of them must look bad in order to somehow justify their fate. Sad
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Re: Simone Bertiere

Post  Elena on Mon Jul 14, 2014 12:24 am

Thank you for your opinion, Didishroom, which others share. There is great disappointment over the English translation of this biography! Sad  You summarize it all VERY VERY well.  queen 


As for her love for Louis, she stayed at his side until the end. That is what love looks like to me. I love you 

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Re: Simone Bertiere

Post  janet11 on Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:59 am

i agree with you

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Re: Simone Bertiere

Post  janet11 on Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:29 am

wonderful

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Re: Simone Bertiere

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