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Germaine de Staël

Germaine de Staël

Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein (French: [an lwiz ʒɛʁmɛn də stal ɔlstajn]; née Necker; 22 April 1766 – 14 July 1817), commonly known as Madame de Staël (/də ˈstɑːl/ də STAHL, French: [madam də stal]), was a French woman of letters and historian of Genevan origin[3] whose lifetime overlapped with the events of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era. For many years she lived as an exile under the Reign of Terror and under Napoleonic persecution. Known as a witty and brilliant conversationalist, often dressed in flashy and revealing outfits, she participated actively in the political and intellectual life of her times. She was present at the first opening of the Estates General and at the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.[4] Her intellectual collaboration with Benjamin Constant between 1795 and 1811 made them one of the most celebrated intellectual couples of their time. They discovered sooner than others the tyrannical character and designs of Napoleon.[5] In 1814 one of her contemporaries observed that "there are three great powers struggling against Napoleon for the soul of Europe: England, Russia, and Madame de Staël".[6] Her works, both novels and travel literature, with emphasis on passion, individuality and oppositional politics made their mark on European Romanticism.

Germaine de Staël
Marie Eléonore Godefroid - Portrait of Mme de Staël.jpg
"Madame de Staël" by Marie-Éléonore Godefroid (1813)
Anne-Louise Germaine Necker

(1766-04-22)22 April 1766
Paris, France
Died14 July 1817(1817-07-14)(aged 51)
Paris, France
Notable work
  • Delphine (1802)
  • Corinne (1807)
  • De l'Allemagne (1813)
  • Erik Magnus Staël von Holstein
    (m. 1786; died 1802)
  • Albert Jean Michel de Rocca (m. 1816)
Main interests
  • Cosmopolitanism[1][2]
  • representative government
  • constitutionalism


Germaine (or Minette) was the only child of the prominent Genevan banker and statesman Jacques Necker, who was the Director-General of Finance under King Louis XVI of France. Her mother was Suzanne Curchod, also of Swiss birth, who hosted in Rue de la Chaussée-d'Antin one of the most popular salons of Paris.[7] Mme Necker wanted to educate her daughter according to the principles of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and to endow her with the intellectual education and Calvinist discipline instilled in her by her pastor father.[8] On Friday she habitually brought Germaine as a young child to sit at her feet in her salon, where the guests took pleasure in stimulating the brilliant child.[9] At the age of thirteen, she read Montesquieu, Shakespeare, Rousseau and Dante.[10] This exposure occasioned a nervous breakdown in adolescence, but the seeds of a literary vocation had been sown.

Her father "is remembered today for taking the unprecedented step in 1781 of making public the country’s budget, a novelty in an absolute monarchy where the state of finances had always been kept a secret,"[11] leading to his dismissal in May. The family eventually took up residence in 1784 at Château Coppet, an estate her father purchased on Lake Geneva. The family returned to the Paris region in 1785, and Mlle Necker continued to write miscellaneous works, including the three-act romantic drama Sophie (1786) and the five-act tragedy, Jeanne Grey (1787).


At the age of eleven, Germaine proposed to her mother to marry Edward Gibbon, who was fancied by her mother. Then he would always be around for her.[12] In 1783, she was courted by William Pitt the Younger and by the fop Comte de Guibert, whose conversation, she thought, was the most far-ranging, spirited and fertile she had ever known.[13] When she did not accept their offers Germaine's parents became impatient. Finally, a marriage was arranged with Baron Erik Magnus Staël von Holstein, an attaché of the Swedish legation to France. It took place on 14 January 1786 in the Swedish embassy at 97, Rue du Bac; Germaine was 20, her husband 37. On the whole, the marriage seems to have been acceptable to both parties, although neither seems to have had any or little affection for the other. The baron, a gambler, obtained great benefits as he received 80,000 pounds and was confirmed as lifetime ambassador to Paris, although his wife was almost certainly the more effective envoy.[14]

Revolutionary activities

In 1788, she published Letters on the works and character of J.J. Rousseau.[15] In this fervid panegyric, at first written for a limited number of friends (in which she accused his housekeeper Thérèse Levasseur of having been unfaithful), she demonstrated evident talent, but little in the way of critical discernment. De Staël was at this time enthusiastic about a mixture of Rousseau's ideas about love and Montesquieu in politics. In December 1788 her father instigated the king to double the number of deputies from the Third Estate in order to gain enough support for raising the taxes as the support the revolutionaries in America had been too costly. This approach had serious repercussions on Necker's reputation; he appeared to consider the Estates-General to be a facility designed to help the administration rather than to reform government.[16] In an argument with the king, whose speech on 23 June he didn't attend, Necker was dismissed and exiled on 11 July. On Sunday, 12 July the news became public and an angry Camille Desmoulins suggested the storming of the Bastille.[17] On 16 July he was reappointed; Necker entered Versailles in triumph. His efforts to clean up public finances were unsuccessful and his idea of a National Bank failed. Necker was attacked by Jean-Paul Marat and Count Mirabeau in the Constituante, when he did not agree with using assignats as legal tender.[18] He resigned on 4 September 1790. Accompanied by their son-in-law, her parents left for Switzerland, without 2 million livres, half of his fortune, invested in the public treasury in 1778.[19][20][21]

The increasing disturbances caused by the Revolution made her privileges as the consort of an ambassador very important safeguards. Germaine held a salon in the Swedish embassy, where she gave "coalition dinners", that were frequented by moderates such as Talleyrand and De Narbonne, monarchists (Feuillants) as Antoine Barnave, Charles Lameth and his brothers Alexandre and Théodore, the Comte de Clermont-Tonnerre, Pierre Victor, baron Malouet, the poet Abbé Delille, Thomas Jefferson, the one-legged Minister Plenipotentiary to France Gouverneur Morris, the leftish Paul Barras and the radical Condorcets. "The issue of leadership, or rather lack of it, was central to Staël's preoccupations at this stage of her political reflection. The death of Comte de Mirabeau, a royalist, she experienced as a sign of great political disorientation and uncertainty. He was the only man with necessary charisma, energy, and prestige to keep revolutionary movement on the path of constitutional reform."[22]

After the 1791 French legislative election was held, and the French Constitution of 1791 was announced in the National Assembly, she resigned from a political career and decided not to be re-eligible. "Fine arts and letters will occupy my leisure."[23] Though, in the succession of Comte de Montmorin the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the appointment of Narbonne as minister of War she played an important role and became the center of the stage.[24] Marie Antoinette wrote to Hans Axel Fersen: "Count Louis de Narbonne is finally Minister of War, since yesterday; what a glory for Mme de Staël and what a joy for her to have the whole army, all to herself."[25] In the year 1792 the French Legislative Assembly saw an unprecedented turnover of ministers, six ministers of the interior, seven ministers of foreign affairs, and nine ministers of war.[26] On 10 August 1792 Clermont-Tonnere was thrown out of a window at the Louvre and trampled to death. De Staël offered Malouet a plan to escape for the royal family.[27] She helped De Narbonne, dismissed for plotting, to hide under the altar in the chapel of the Swedish embassy, and then lectured the sans-culottes in the hall.[28][29][30][10]

On Sunday 2 September, the day the Elections for the National Convention and the September massacres began, she fled herself in the style of an ambassadress. Her carriage was stopped and the crowd forced her to go to the Paris town hall, where Robespierre presided.[31] Robespierre, as well as Marat were militant members of the Insurrectionary Commune who had got power from the provisional, executive council, as there was no government "extensive police powers to detain, interrogate and incarcerate suspects without anything resembling due process of law".[32] In the evening she was conveyed home, escorted by the procurator Louis Pierre Manuel. The next day the commissioner to the Commune of Paris Jean-Lambert Tallien arrived with a new passport and accompanied her to the barrier.[33][34]

Salons at Coppet and Paris

After her flight from Paris, Germaine moved to Rolle where Albert was born. She was surrounded by De Montmorency and the Marquis de Jaucourt.[35] In January 1793, she made a four months visit to England to live with her lover, the Comte de Narbonne at Juniper Hall. (Since 1 February France and Great Britain were at war.) Within a few weeks she got pregnant, apparently one of the reasons she caused a scandal in England. According to Fanny Burney her father urged his daughter to avoid De Staël and the group of French Émigres in Surrey.[4] She met with Horace Walpole, James Mackintosh, Lord Sheffield, a friend of Edward Gibbon, and Lord Loughborough, the new Lord Chancellor.[4] De Staël was not favourably impressed by the conditions of women in English society.[4] Personal freedom was evidently as important to her as abstract political liberties.[36]

In the summer of 1793, she returned to Coppet Castle perhaps while De Narbonne stopped loving her. She wrote a biased depiction of the character of queen, named "Reflections on the Trial". For De Staël France had to follow England's example from absolute to limited royalty.[37] Living in Jouxtens-Mézery, Germaine was visited by Adolph Ribbing in July 1793.[10][35] Count Ribbing was living in exile, after being sentenced for taking part in a conspiracy to murder the Swedish king Gustav III. Late 1793 her parents moved to Beaulieu Castle. In September 1794 she was visited by the divorced Benjamin Constant. In May 1795 she moved with her new "colleague" to Paris.[38] De Staël had rejected the idea of the right of resistance – which had been introduced by the French Constitution of 1793, but removed from the Constitution of 1795.[39] In 1796 she published Sur l'influence des passions, in which she praised suicide; a book that attracted the attention of the German authors Schiller and Goethe.[40]

Germaine had also an obsession with French politics,[41] and reopened her salon. It was during these years that Mme de Staël was of chief political importance. For a time she was conspicuous in the motley and eccentric society of the mid-1790s. On the 13 Vendémiaire the Comité de salut public ordered her to leave Paris after accusations of politicking, and locked up Constant for one night.[42] Germaine spent that autumn in Forges-les-Eaux, a spa. She was trusted by neither side and a threat to political stability.[43] The couple moved to Ormesson-sur-Marne where they lived with Montmorency. In Summer 1796 Constant founded "Cercle constitutionnel" in Luzarches; De Staël supported him.[44] In May 1797 she was back in Paris and eight months pregnant. She succeeded in getting Talleyrand from the list of Émigrés and in July in his appointment as minister of Foreign Affairs.[45] Since the coup of 18 Fructidor anyone wishing to restore the monarchy or the French Constitution of 1793 would be shot without a trial.[46] Germaine moved to Saint-Ouen, on her father's estate and became friends with the beautiful and rich Juliette Récamier to whom she sold the parental house in the Rue de la Chaussée-d'Antin.

De Staël completed the initial part of her first most substantial contribution to political and constitutional theory, "Of present circumstances that can end the Revolution, and of the principles that must found the republic of France".[11] On 6 December 1797 at Talleyrand's office and 3 January 1798 during a ball she met with Napoleon. She made clear she did not agree with his planned French invasion of Switzerland. He showed no interest and would not read her letters.[47]

Conflict with Napoleon

In January 1800 Benjamin Constant was appointed by Napoleon as a member of the Tribunat but not long after he became the first consul's enemy. Two years later Napoleon Bonaparte forced him to withdraw because of the speeches that he thought were actually written by Mme de Staël.[48] Both personal and political reasons threw her into opposition to Napoléon, in August 1802 elected as first consul for life. For De Staël, Napoleon started to resemble Machiavelli; for Napoleon, J. J. Rousseau was the cause of the French Revolution.[49] It culminated when Jacques Necker had published his "Last Views on Politics and Finance" and his daughter "De la littérature considérée dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales". It was her first philosophical approach to Europe, that dealt with such important factors as nationality, history and social institutions.[50] Napoleon started a campaign against this publication. He did not like her cultural determinism and generalizations, in which she stated that "an artist must be of his own time".[48][51] For him a woman should stick to knitting.[52] He said about her, according to the Memoirs of Madame de Rémusat, that she "teaches people to think who never thought before, or who had forgotten how to think".[53] It became pretty clear that the first man in France and the De Staël were not likely to get on together.[54]

De Staël published a provoking (anti-catholic) novel Delphine, in which the femme incomprise (misunderstood woman) living in Paris between 1789 and 1792, is confronted with conservative ideas about divorce after the Concordat of 1801. In this tragic novel, influenced by Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther and Rousseau's Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse, she reflects on the legal and practical aspects on divorce, the arrests and the September Massacres, and the fate of the émigrés. The main characters have traits of the flippant Benjamin Constant, and Talleyrand is depicted as an old woman, herself as the heroine with the liberalist view of the Italian aristocrat and politician Melzi d'Eril.[55]

When Constant moved to Maffliers in September 1803 De Staël went to see him and let Napoleon know she would be wise and careful. Immediately the house became very popular among her friends, but Napoleon, informed by Madame de Genlis suspected a conspiracy. "Her extensive network of connections – which included foreign diplomats and known political opponents, as well as members of the government and of Bonaparte's own family – was in itself a source of suspicion and alarm for the government."[56] Her protection of Jean Gabriel Peltier – who wished the death of Napoleon – influenced his decision on 13 October 1803 to exile her without a trial.[57] For ten years De Staël was not allowed to settle within a distance of 40 leagues (almost 200 km) from Paris. She accused Napoleon of "persecuting a woman and her children".[58] On 23 October she left for Germany "out of pride",[59] in the hope to gain attention and to be able to return as soon as possible.[60]

German travels

With her children and Constant she stopped off in Metz and met with Kant's translator Charles de Villers. In mid-December, they arrived in Weimar, where she stayed for two and a half months at the court of the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and his mother Anna Amalia. Germaine was constantly on the move, talking and asking questions.[61][48] Goethe, in fact, became ill and hesitated about seeing her. After becoming acquainted with her, Goethe referred to her as an "extraordinary woman" in his private correspondence.[62] Schiller complimented her intelligence and eloquence, but her frequent visits distracted him from completing William Tell.[63][64] Constant decided to abandon her in Leipzig and return to Switzerland. De Staël traveled to Berlin, where she made the acquaintance of August Schlegel who was giving lectures on literature. She appointed him on an enormous salary as the private tutor to her children. On 18 April they all left Berlin when the news of her father's death reached her.

On 19 May she arrived in Coppet and found herself its wealthy and independent mistress, but her sorrow for her father was deep and certainly sincere. She spent the summer at the chateau arranging his writings and published an essay on his private life. In July Constant wrote: "She exerts over everything around her a kind of inexplicable but very real power. If she could only govern herself, she might have governed the world."[65] In December 1804 she travelled to Italy, accompanied by her children, Schlegel and the historian Sismondi. She met with the poet Monti and the painter, Angelica Kauffman. "Her visit to Italy helped her to further develop her theory of the difference between northern and southern societies..."[4]

She returned to Coppet in June 1805, moved to Meulan (Château d'Acosta) and spent nearly a year writing her next book on Italy's culture and history. In Corinne, ou L'Italie (1807) the female hero appears to have been inspired by the Italian poet Diodata Saluzzo Roero.[66] She showed all of Italy's works of art still in place, rather than plundered by Napoleon and taken to France.[67] The book's publication acted as a reminder of her existence, and Napoleon sent her back to Coppet. Her house became, according to Stendhal, "the general headquarters of European thought" and was a debating club hostile to Napoleon, "turning conquered Europe into a parody of a feudal empire, with his own relatives in the roles of vassal states".[68] Madame Récamier, also banned by Napoleon, Prince Augustus of Prussia, Charles Victor de Bonstetten, and Chateaubriand all belonged to the "Coppet group".[69] Each day the table was laid for about thirty guests. Talking seemed to be everybody's chief activity.

For a time she lived with Constant in Auxerre (1806), Rouen (1807), Aubergenville (1807). Then she met with Friedrich Schlegel, whose wife Dorothea had translated Corinne into German.[70] The use of the word Romanticism was invented by Schlegel, but spread more widely across France through its persistent use by Madame de Staël.[71] Late in 1807 she set out for Vienna and visited Maurice O'Donnell.[72] She was accompanied by her children and August Schlegel who held his famous lectures. In 1808 De Staël set to work on her book about Germany – a country that did not exist until Bismarck – in which she presented the idea of Germany as an ethical and aesthetic model and praised German literature and philosophy.[73] The exchange of ideas and literary and philosophical conversations with Goethe, Schiller, and Wieland inspired de Staël to write one of the most influential books of the nineteenth century.[74]

Pretending she wanted to emigrate to the US, de Staël was given permission to re-enter France. Looking around in Chaumont-sur-Loire de Staël moved into the Château de Chaumont (1810) owned by the heirs of Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, but then moved on onto Fossé and Vendôme. She was determined to publish De l'Allemagne in France, a book in which she called French political structures into question, so indirectly criticizing Napoleon busy promoting French culture and theatre. Constrained by censorship, she wrote the emperor a somewhat provocative and perhaps undignified letter. The minister of police Savary had emphatically forbidden the publication of her book as being “un-French".[75][74] In October 1810 de Staël was exiled again and had to leave France within three days. Also August Schlegel was ordered to leave Swiss Confederation as an enemy of the French literature. She found consolation in a wounded officer named Albert de Rocca, twenty-three years her junior, to whom she got engaged privately in 1811 and would marry him publicly in 1816.[48]

Eastern European travels

The operations of the French imperial police in regard to Mme de Staël are rather obscure. She was at first left undisturbed, but by degrees, the chateau itself became a source of suspicion, and her visitors found themselves heavily punished. François-Emmanuel Guignard, De Montmorency and Mme Récamier were exiled for the crime of visiting her. She remained at home during the winter of 1811, planning to escape to England or Sweden with the manuscript. On 23 May 1812 she left Coppet almost secretly, and journeyed through Bern, Innsbruck and Salzburg on her way to Vienna, where she met with Metternich. There she obtained an Austrian passport up to the frontier, and after some trepidation and trouble, received a Russian passport in Brody.

During Napoleon's invasion of Russia de Staël, her two children and Schlegel, journeyed through the Habsburg empire from Brno to Łańcut where Rocca, having deserted the French army and having been searched by the French gendarmerie, was waiting for her. The journey continued to Lemberg, capital of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. On 14 July 1812 they arrived in Volhynia. In the meantime, Napoleon, who took a more northern route, had crossed the Niemen River with his army. In Kiev, she met Miloradovich, governor of the city. De Staël hesitated to travel to Odessa, Constantinople, and onto Greece, and decided instead to go north. In Moscow, she was invited by the governor Fyodor Rostopchin.[76] She left only a few weeks before Napoleon arrived. Until the end of September, her party stayed in Saint Petersburg. She met twice with the tsar Alexander I of Russia who "related to me also the lessons a la Machiavelli which Napoleon had thought proper to give him."

"You see," said he, "I am careful to keep my ministers and generals at variance among themselves, in order that each may reveal to me the faults of the other; I keep up a continual jealousy by the manner I treat those who are about me: one day one thinks himself the favourite, the next day another, so that no one is ever certain of my favour."[77]

For de Staël that was a vulgar and vicious theory.[77] General Kutuzov sent her letters from the Battle of Tarutino[78] and before the end of that year he would succeed in chasing the Grande Armée out of Russia.

After four months of travelling, she arrived in Sweden. The crossing of the Bothnian Gulf by boat frightened her. In Stockholm she started "Ten Years' Exile", giving details of whom she had met and explained what she had seen. She never finished the manuscript and after eight months she set out for England, without August Schlegel who had been appointed as secretary to general Bernadotte. (She supported Bernadotte as new ruler of France, who she hoped would introduce a constitutional monarchy.[79]) In London she received a great welcome. She met with Lord Byron on the first evening (27 May). The next day they dined at Sir Humphry Davy's, the chemist and inventor. In the evening de Staël had made very long speeches, according to Byron. She preached English politics to the first of our English Whig politicians ... preached politics no less to our Tory politicians the day after."[80] Her stay was marred by the death of her son Albert, who as a member of the Swedish army had fallen in a duel with a Cossack officer in Doberan as a result of a gambling dispute. In October John Murray published De l'Allemagne both in a French and English translation, in which she reflected on nationalism and suggested a re-consideration on cultural rather than on natural boundaries.[81] In May 1814, after Louis XVIII had been crowned (Bourbon Restoration) she returned to Paris. She undertook Considérations sur la révolution française, based on Part One of "Ten Years' Exile". Again her salon became a major attraction both for Parisians and foreigners.

Restoration and Death

When news came of Napoleon's landing on the Côte d'Azur, between Cannes and Antibes, early in March 1815, she fled to Coppet, and never forgave Constant for approving of Napoleon's return.[82] Although she had no affection for the Bourbons she succeeded in obtaining restitution for the loan Necker had made to the French state before the Revolution.[83] In October, after the Battle of Waterloo, she set out for Italy, not only for the sake of her own health but for that of her second husband, Rocca, who was suffering from tuberculosis. In May her 19-year-old daughter Albertine married Victor, 3rd duc de Broglie in Livorno.

The whole family returned to Coppet in June. Lord Byron, a womanizer and a gambler in debt, left London in great trouble and frequently visited Mme de Staël during July and August. For Byron, she was Europe's greatest living writer, but "with her pen behind her ears and her mouth full of ink".[84] "Byron was particularly critical of de Staël's self-dramatizing tendencies".[85] Byron was a supporter of Napoleon, but for de Staël Bonaparte "was not only a talented man but also one who represented a whole pernicious system of power", a system that "ought to be examined as a great political problem relevant to many generations."[86] "Napoleon imposed standards of homogeneity on Europe that is, French taste in literature, art and the legal systems, all of which de Staël saw as inimical to her cosmopolitan point of view."[85] Byron wrote she was "sometimes right and often wrong about Italy and England – but almost always true in delineating the heart, which is of but one nation of no country, or rather, of all."[87]

Despite her increasing ill-health, she returned to Paris for the winter of 1816–17, living at 40, rue des Mathurins. Constant argued with de Staël, who had asked him to pay off his debts to her. A warm friendship sprang up between Madame de Staël and the Duke of Wellington, whom she had first met in 1814, and she used her influence with him to have the size of the Army of Occupation greatly reduced.[88]

She had already become confined to her house, paralyzed since 21 February. She died on 14 July 1817. Her deathbed conversion to Roman Catholicism, after reading Thomas a Kempis, was reported but is debated. Wellington remarked that, while he knew that she was greatly afraid of death, he had thought her incapable of believing in the afterlife.[88] Wellington makes no mention of de Stael reading Thomas a Kempis in the quote found in Longford's biography of the Iron Duke. Furthermore, he reports hearsay, which may explain why two modern biographies of de Staël – Herold and Fairweather – discount the conversion entirely. Herold states that "her last deed in life was to reaffirm in her "Considerations, her faith in Enlightenment, freedom, and progress."[89] Fairweather makes no mention of the conversion at all.[90] Rocca survived her by little more than six months.


Albertine Necker de Saussure, married to her cousin, wrote her biography in 1821, published as part of the collected works. Auguste Comte included Mme de Staël in his 1849 Calendar of Great Men.

Her political legacy has been generally identified with a stern defence of "liberal" values: equality, individual freedom and the limitation of power by constitutional rules.[91] "Yet although she insisted to the Duke of Wellington that she needed politics in order to live, her attitude towards the propriety of female political engagement varied: at times she declared that women should simply be the guardians of domestic space for the opposite sex, while at others, that denying women access to the public sphere of activism and engagement was an abuse of human rights. This paradox partly explains the persona of the “homme-femme” she presented in society, and it remained unresolved throughout her life."[92]

Comte's disciple Frederic Harrison wrote about de Staël that her novels "precede the works of Walter Scott, Byron, Mary Shelley, and partly those of Chateaubriand, their historical importance is great in the development of modern Romanticism, of the romance of the heart, the delight in nature, and in the arts, antiquities, and history of Europe."


Beside two daughters, Gustava Sofia Magdalena (born July 1787) and Gustava Hedvig (died August 1789), who died in infancy, she had two sons, Ludwig August (1790–1827), Albert (November 1792 – July 1813), and a daughter, Albertine, Baroness de Staël von Holstein (June 1797 – 1838). It is believed Louis, Comte de Narbonne-Lara was the father of Ludvig August and Albert, and Benjamin Constant the father of red-haired Albertine.[93] With Albert de Rocca, de Staël then aged 46, had one son, the disabled Louis-Alphonse de Rocca (April 1812 – 1842), who would marry Marie-Louise-Antoinette de Rambuteau, daughter of Claude-Philibert Barthelot de Rambuteau,[48] and granddaughter of De Narbonne.[94] Even as she gave birth, there were fifteen people in her bedroom.[95]

After the death of her husband, Mathieu de Montmorency became the legal guardian of her children. Like August Schlegel he was one of her intimates until the end of her life.

  • Republican activist Victor Gold quoted Madame de Staël when characterizing American Vice President Dick Cheney, "Men do not change, they unmask themselves."

  • De Staël is credited in Tolstoy's epilogue to War and Peace as a factor of the 'influential forces' which historians say led to the movement of humanity in that era.[96]

  • The popular wrestling compilation series Botchamania has referenced her on several occasions saying One must choose in life, between boredom and suffering which is normally followed by a humorous joke.

  • Mme de Staël is used several times to characterize Mme de Grandet in Stendhal's Lucien Leuwen.

  • Mme de Staël is mentioned several times, always approvingly, by Russia's national poet, Alexander Pushkin. He described her in 1825 as a woman whose persecution distinguished her and who commanded respect from all of Europe, and gave her a very positive portrayal in his unfinished 1836 novel Roslavlev.[97] Her high stature in Russia is attested by Pushkin's warning to a critic: "Mme de Staël is ours, do not touch her!"[98]

  • Pushkin's friend Pyotr Vyazemsky was also an admirer of her life and works.[99]

  • Mme de Staël is frequently quoted by Ralph Waldo Emerson and she is credited with introducing him to recent German thought.[100]

  • Herman Melville considered de Staël among the greatest women of the century and Margaret Fuller consciously adopted de Staël as her role model.[101]

  • Danish radical Georg Brandes gave pride of place to de Staël in his survey of Emigrantlitteraturen and highly esteemed her novels, particularly Corinne, which was also admired by Henrik Ibsen and used as a guidebook for his travels through Italy.[102]

  • Talleyrand observed with his customary cynicism that Germaine enjoyed throwing people overboard simply to have the pleasure of fishing them out of the water again.[103]

  • Sismondi accused De Staël of a lack of tact, when they were travelling through Italy and wrote Mme De Staël was easily bored if she had to pay attention to things.

  • For Heinrich Heine she was the "grandmother of doctrines".[104]

  • For Byron she was "a good woman at heart and the cleverest at bottom, but spoilt by a wish to be — she knew not what. In her own house she was amiable; in any other person's, you wished her gone, and in her own again.[105]


  • Journal de Jeunesse, 1785

  • Sophie ou les sentiments secrets, 1786 (published anonymously in 1790)

  • Jane Gray, 1787 (published in 1790)

  • Lettres sur le caractère et les écrits de J.-J. Rousseau, 1788[106]

  • Éloge de M. de Guibert

  • À quels signes peut-on reconnaître quelle est l'opinion de la majorité de la nation?

  • Réflexions sur le procès de la Reine, 1793

  • Zulma : fragment d'un ouvrage, 1794

  • Réflexions sur la paix adressées à M. Pitt et aux Français, 1795

  • Réflexions sur la paix intérieure

  • Recueil de morceaux détachés (comprenant : Épître au malheur ou Adèle et Édouard, Essai sur les fictions et trois nouvelles : Mirza ou lettre d'un voyageur, Adélaïde et Théodore et Histoire de Pauline), 1795

  • Essai sur les fictions, translated by Goethe into German

  • De l'influence des passions sur le bonheur des individus et des nations, 1796[107]

  • Des circonstances actuelles qui peuvent terminer la Révolution et des principes qui doivent fonder la République en France

  • De la littérature dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales, 1799

  • Delphine, 1802 deals with the question of woman's status in a society hidebound by convention and faced with a Revolutionary new order

  • Vie privée de Mr. Necker, 1804

  • Épîtres sur Naples

  • Corinne, ou l'Italie, 1807 is as much a travelogue as a fictional narrative. It discusses the problems of female artistic creativity in two radically different cultures, England and Italy.

  • Agar dans le désert

  • Geneviève de Brabant

  • La Sunamite

  • Le capitaine Kernadec ou sept années en un jour (comédie en deux actes et en prose)

  • La signora Fantastici

  • Le mannequin (comédie)

  • Sapho

  • De l'Allemagne, 1813, translated as Of Germany 1813.[108]

  • Réflexions sur le suicide, 1813

  • Morgan et trois nouvelles, 1813

  • De l'esprit des traductions

  • Considérations sur les principaux événements de la révolution française, depuis son origine jusques et compris le 8 juillet 1815, 1818 (posthumously)[109]

  • Dix Années d'Exil (1818), posthumously published in France by Mdm Necker de Saussure. In 1821 translated and published as Ten Years' Exile. Memoirs of That Interesting Period of the Life of the Baroness De Stael-Holstein, Written by Herself, during the Years 1810, 1811, 1812, and 1813, and Now First Published from the Original Manuscript, by Her Son.[110]

  • Essais dramatiques, 1821

  • Oeuvres complètes 17 t., 1820–21

  • Oeuvres complètes de Madame la Baronne de Staël-Holstein [Complete works of Madame Baron de Staël-Holstein]. Paris: Firmin Didot frères. 1836. Volume 1 [132]  · Volume 2 [133]

See also

  • Contributions to liberal theory

  • Liberalism

  • Coppet group


Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgWilkinson, L. R. (2017). Hibbitt, Richard (ed.). Other Capitals of the Nineteenth Century An Alternative Mapping of Literary and Cultural Space. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 51–67.
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSimon, Sherry (2003). Gender in Translation. Routledge. pp. 61–62.
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Citation Linkwww.hls-dhs-dss.chStaël, Germaine de, in the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
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Citation Linkwww.nottingham.ac.ukLord Byron and Germaine de Staël by Silvia Bordoni, The University of Nottingham 2005
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Citation Linkbooks.google.nlConsiderations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution ..., Band 2 by Madame de Staël, p. 46
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgMémoires de Madame de Chastenay, 1771–1815
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSaintsbury, George (1911). "Staël, Madame de". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 750–752., p. 750.
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Citation Linkbooks.google.comCasillo, R. (13 May 2006). The Empire of Stereotypes: Germaine de Staël and the Idea of Italy. Springer. ISBN 9781403983213 – via Google Books.
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgCelebrities such as the Comte de Buffon, Jean-François Marmontel, Melchior Grimm, Edward Gibbon, the Abbé Raynal, Jean-François de la Harpe, Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Denis Diderot, and Jean d'Alembert were frequent visitors.
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Citation Linkwww.swisscastles.ch"Vaud: Le château de Mezery a Jouxtens-Mezery".
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Citation Linkoll.libertyfund.orgStael and the French Revolution Introduction by Aurelian Craiutu
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Citation Linkbooks.google.nlLydia Maria Child (1836) The biography of Madame de Stael, p. 6
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSimon Schama (1990) Citizens, p. 257
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Citation Linkwww.theguardian.comNapoleon's nemesis
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Citation Linkbooks.google.comHistorical & literary memoirs and anecdotes by Friedrich Melchior Grimm and Denis Diderot, H. Colburn, 1815, p. 353.
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSchama, Citizens, 345–46.
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSimon Schama (1989) Citizens, p. 382
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSimon Schama (1989) Citizens, p. 499, 536
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Citation Linkostromworkshop.indiana.eduA Voice of Moderation in the Age of Revolutions: Jacques Necker’s Reflections on Executive Power in Modern Society by Aurelian Craiutu, p. 4
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Citation Linkbooks.google.nlThe Works of John Moore, M.D.: With Memoirs of His Life and Writings, Band 4 by John Moore (1820)
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