First published anonymously in 1678, Madame de Lafayette's The Princesse de Clèves marked a turning point in the history of literary fiction.
In retrospect, it can be seen as the first subtle psychological novel (with the one notable exception of The Tale of Genji, also written by a woman) and thus as the ancestor of Stendhal, Flaubert, Proust, Henry James, and Virginia Woolf.
But it's more than a mere ancestor.
Page for page, it's as pithy as any of those later authors and far more concise (a mere 150 pages). We will thus be doing a particularly close examination, reading numerous passages aloud, consulting the original French version, clarifying the historical contexts, analyzing the moral dilemmas, and savoring the complex psychological nuances of this remarkable little book.
This is the second meeting of four.