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|French literary history|
Marie de Gournay (French pronunciation: [maʁi də ɡuʁnɛ] ( listen); 6 October 1565, Paris – 13 July 1645) was a French writer, who wrote a novel and a number of other literary compositions, including two protofeminist works, The Equality of Men and Women (1622) and The Ladies' Grievance (Les femmes et Grief des dames, 1626). In her novel Le Promenoir de M. de Montaigne qui traite de l’amour dans l’œuvre de Plutarque she explored the dangers women face when they become dependent on men. She insisted that women should be educated.
She was also an editor and commentator of Michel de Montaigne. Having read his works in her teens, Gournay travelled to meet him and eventually became his "fille d'alliance" (roughly "adopted daughter"). She receives her name from the Château de Gournay in Gournay-sur-Aronde (in the Ile-de-France Province) that her father, Guillaume Le Jars, bought shortly before dying in 1578.
After Montaigne's death, Gournay edited the third edition of the Essays in 1595, and it is for this that she is best known.
Born in Paris and raised in Gournay-sur-Aronde. Her father, Guillaume Le Jars was treasurer to King Henri III of France. In 1568 he obtained feudal rights to the Gournay estate in Picardy, and in 1573, after he purchased the Neufvy estate, he became Seigneur de Neufvy et de Gournay. Gournay was self-taught in Latin and Greek, translating works by Ovid, Virgil, and Tacitus. In addition to her many poems, literary compositions, and a book on the instruction of princes, she published one of the first psychological novels in France, Le Proumenoir de Monsieur de Montaigne (1594).Marie de Gournay met Montaigne in Paris in 1588, when she was 23 and Montaigne 55 years old. He later visited her at her residence in the Château de Gournay. The first literary reference to Marie as Montaigne's fille d'allianceis in the Essays:
|“||I have greatly pleased my selfe in publishing in sundrie places, the good hope I have of Marie Gournay le Jars my daughter in alliance, and truely of me beloved with more than a fatherly love, and as one of the best parts of my being, enfeofed in my home and solitarines. There is nothing in the world I esteeme more than hir.||”|
After her mother's death in 1591, Marie moved to Paris, leaving the family home to her brother Charles, who was forced to sell it in 1608. Montaigne died the following year, and his widow, Françoise de la Chassaigne, provided Gournay with a copy of the Essays and charged her with its publication. Marie de Gournay did so, publishing the first posthumous edition of the Essays with a long preface praising Montaigne's ideas. Her translation of the Essays is remarkable for fidelity in translating Latin sentences and Montaigne's highly specific references to classical and sometimes obscure texts.
In Paris, Marie de Gournay met Henri Louis Habert de Montmor and the scholar Justus Lipsius presented her to Europe as a woman of letters. Gournay found herself protectors by writing for Queen Margo, Henry IV of France, Marie de Médicis, Louis XIII, the marquise de Guercheville, the ministers Villeroy and Jeannin, and Richelieu. She thus obtained the privilege of being able to publish her own work from Richelieu, who even awarded her a modest royal stipend. As a woman, Marie de Gournay was often subject to both personal attacks and unfounded criticism of her work. She never married and supported herself through her inheritance and work.
As a Catholic, she was hostile to the Protestant movement but remained close to libertines such as Théophile de Viau, Gabriel Naudé and François La Mothe Le Vayer, to whom she would leave her library, which she herself had received from Montaigne (who in turn had inherited it from La Boétie). In 1610 she engaged in the debate on the assassination of Henry IV, strongly defending the Jesuits.
Marie de Gournay was self-taught in Latin and Greek. She translated works by Sallust, Ovid, Virgil, and Tacitus. She wrote verses about her cat Léonore (also the name of Montaigne's daughter) and Joan of Arc, adapted Ronsard, wrote on the instruction of princes, and criticized the Précieuses. She died on 13 July 1645, aged 79 and is buried at the Saint-Eustache Church in Paris. Marie de Gournay is now recognized as the first woman in France to contribute to literary criticism and one of the first to argue forcibly on the equality of men and women. Her final collected works ran to nearly 1000 pages.
De l'éducation des Enfans de France - Naissance des Enfans de France - Exclamation sur l'assassinat deplorable de l'année 1610 - Adieu de l'ame du Roy à la Reyne Regente son espouse - Priere pour l'ame du mesme Roy, escrite à son trépas - Gratification à Venise sur une victoire - Institution du Prince - Du langage François - De la medisance - Des fausses devotions, Si la vangeance est licite - Antipathie des ames basses et hautes - Consideration sur quelques contes de Cour - Advis à quelques gens d'Église - Que les grands esprits et les gens de bien s'entrecherchent - De la neantise de la commune vaillance de ce temps et du peu de prix de la qualité de Noblesse - Que l'integrité suit la vraye suffisance - Sur la version des Poètes antiques, ou des Metaphores - Égalité des hommes et des femmes - Chrysante, ou convalescence d'une petite fille - Des Vertus vicieuses - Des Rymes - Des diminutifs François - Des grimaces mondaines - De l'impertinente amitié - Des sottes ou presomptives finesses - Grief des Dames - Défense de la Poësie et du langage des Poètes - Advis sur la nouvelle edition du Promenoir - Promenoir - Apologie pour celle qui escrit - Lettre sur l'art de traduire les Orateurs - Version d'une Oraison de Tacite - Version d'une Oraison de Salluste - Epistre de Laodamie traduicte d'Ovide - Seconde Philippique de Ciceron traduicte - De la façon d'escrire de Messieurs du Perron et Bertault, qui sert d'Advertissement sur les Poesies de ce volume - Partie du Premier de l'Æneide, commençant où monsieur le Cardinal du Perron acheve de le traduire - Second de l'Æneide traduict - Partie du Quatriesme de l'Æneide, commençant comme dessus après monsieur le Cardinal, Bouquet de Pynde, composé de fleurs diverses - Si ce Livre me survit…