History Saint-Simon, The Duke of: Memoirs of Louis XIV. v.1. 6 July 2007
#1  Patricia 07-05-2007, 08:24 PM
Louis de Rouvroy, Duc de Saint-Simon, 'Memoirs of Louis XIV and his Court and of the Regency'. Translated by Bayle St. John. (no date)

My most ambitious project so far. This is 15 volumes (– 119 chapters). The text came from PG and had no French accents at all. I’ve restored them as best I could. Also the spelling was inconsistent: sometimes British, sometimes American, and there were some very mangled names: Vendome sometimes appeared as Vendame, Vendarne or Vendorne. As for the occasional Latin quotations – they were often seriously awry. (So much for PG distributed proofreading: it has its limitations.)
Please let me know of anything that I’ve missed, so that I can improve the text.

I’ve added two pictures (Saint-Simon and Louis XIV), a TOC at the beginning and an analytical TOC at the end, plus reformatting and extensive corrections, as mentioned above.

This is Saint-Simon’s account of the reign of Louis XIV, written secretly and not published until the early 19th century.
There are some wonderful passages: the Duc de Lauzun persuades the king’s mistress to intercede for him and hides under her bed to see whether she does. As a result he goes to the Bastille. Then he tries to marry the king’s cousin, La Grande Mademoiselle. This time it’s prison at Pignerol. When he’s released he goes to England and helps James II’s queen to escape the revolution.
Or there’s the account of La Grande Mademoiselle’s funeral. Her entrails were imperfectly embalmed in a jar and exploded during the proceedings. The obsequies had to be halted so that the chapel could be cleaned and perfumed.
Saint-Simon’s main aim is to preserve the privileges of the dukes and deny the encroachments of the king’s numerous illegitimate offspring.

This edition is described as complete. This is not strictly true (though it is the most complete version available in English). I have noticed a number of small omissions and condensed passages. For example, at the Duc de Chartres’ wedding, the translator omits to mention that the visiting ambassadors each had their own cadenas (canteens) of cutlery: a privilege generally reserved for princes of the blood.
Also the translator glosses over any mention of people’s rear ends. At one point the Duchesse de Berry is, according to Saint-Simon, kicked up the a**e. This is rendered as an ellipsis. Saint-Simon also claims that Alberoni admired the backside of Vendome. This is rendered as ‘making imfamous suggestions’.

Incidentally, this book was indirectly responsible for my purchase of the Sony Reader. This spring I was visiting Hay-on-Wye (a town famous for the number of its second-hand bookshops. I live only 50 miles away, so visit quite often.)
I saw a copy of the 15-volume set of Memoirs but was reluctant to pay the £200 that was being asked. When I got home, I found the text on PG. Then I realised that it was irritating to read for long periods at the computer, so looked for an alternative. The Sony Reader was £200 (plus VAT), so I think that it was a good deal.
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#2  RWood 07-05-2007, 09:30 PM
Another great work. I read part of this many years ago in an English translation. (My French would get me shot on the streets of Paris.)

#3  Bob Russell 07-08-2007, 10:00 AM
Wow, this looks interesting. Just noticed it after your post on another upload thread (the Madame Guyon book on prayer) And I'm amazed by your familiarity and enjoyed the story about how it led to you getting the Reader! Thanks for the upload, and I'm certainly going to grab this one.

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