1. Claire de Duras
Claire-Louise Lechat de Coëtnempren de Kersaint
(née de Kersaint 1777 – Brest, France 1828)
Little is known about de Duras’ childhood. Her early years coincided with the beginning of what became the often complex and sometime unfathomable French Revolution (1789-1799). Her father was a liberal aristocrat who was killed after he refused to support Louis XVI’s execution; as a result, she and her mother left France and found refuge in London.
In 1797, she married Amédée-Bretagne-Malo, duke of Duras, and returned to France in 1808 where she once again enjoyed the aristocratic lifestyle–so similar to the one she describes at Mme de B.’s estate in her novel Ourika. Her story of an African woman raised by a French family was based on real-life events that she mentioned in a conversation. She was encouraged by friends to bring the material into book form and, after some hesitation, she did. Ourika was the first of de Duras’ numerous novels. Her works are:
- Ourika (1823)
- Edouard (1825)
- Pensées de Louis XVI extraites de ses ouvrages et de ses lettres manuscrites (1827)
- Le frère ange (1829)
- Réflexions et prières inèdites (1839)
- Olivier, ou le secret (1971)
- “Les mémories de Sophie”
- “Le moine, ou l’abbé du Mont Saint-Bernard”
The first two novels were published anonymously. The fourth, fifth, and sixth were published posthumously; the last two are unpublished.
To read everything related to Ourika, go to the menu on your right and under CATEGORIES press the link “1 Duras.”
DeJean, Joan and Margaret Waller. Introduction. Ourika. By Claire de Duras. Trans. John Fowles. New York: The Modern Languages Association of America, 1994. vii-xxi. Print.
Rouillard, Linda Marie. “The Dramas of Ourika and Joseph de Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.” European Romantic Review 22.1 (2011): 19-34. Print.
Warburton, Eileen. “Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down: Ourika, Cinderella, and The French Lieutenant’s Woman.” Twentieth Century Literature 42.1 (1996): 165-86. Print.
Weil, Kari. “Romantic Exile and the Melancholia of Identification.” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 7.2 (1995): 111-26. Print.
Winegarden, Renee. “Women & Politics: Madame de Duras.” The New Criterion 19.3 (2000): 21-28. Print.