When the World Spoke French
Publication Date: June 14, 2011
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A New York Review Books Original
During the eighteenth century, from the death of Louis XIV until the Revolution, French culture set the standard for all of Europe. In Sweden, Austria, Italy, Spain, England, Russia, and Germany, among kings and queens, diplomats, military leaders, writers, aristocrats, and artists, French was the universal language of politics and intellectual life. In When the World Spoke French, Marc Fumaroli presents a gallery of portraits of Europeans and Americans who conversed and corresponded in French, along with excerpts from their letters or other writings.
These men and women, despite their differences, were all irresistibly attracted to the ideal of human happiness inspired by the Enlightenment, whose capital was Paris and whose king was Voltaire. Whether they were in Paris or far away, speaking French connected them in spirit with all those who desired to emulate Parisian tastes, style of life, and social pleasures. Their stories are testaments to the appeal of that famous “sweetness of life” nourished by France and its language.
Richard Howard is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry (Richard Howard is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry (including Inner Voices: Selected Poems, 1963-2003). He has pincluding Inner Voices: Selected Poems, 1963-2003). He has published more than 150 translations from the French includinublished more than 150 translations from the French including Baudelaire's Le Fleurs du Mal, for which he received the 1g Baudelaire's Le Fleurs du Mal, for which he received the 1983 American Book Award for translation. Richard also won th983 American Book Award for translation. Richard also won the Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for Untitled Subjects. He lives in e Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for Untitled Subjects. He lives in New York City. New York City.