Sunday, October 09, 2011

What is Jean-Vincent Blanchard reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Jean-Vincent Blanchard, author of Éminence: Cardinal Richelieu and the Rise of France.

His entry begins:
I visited Naples and the Amalfi coast this summer, and I was struck by the extraordinary beauty and culture of the region. I also realized that many writers, from Goethe to Michael Holroyd (A Book of Secrets), have found inspiration there. Upon my return, I quickly compiled a list of all the books that would make me travel again to this land blessed by the gods. Goethe and Holroyd had to wait a bit: I chose to read first the travel journal of Anna Potocka, a quirky Polish countess who wrote in the 1800s. All the while, I kept near me the poems of Gérard de Nerval titled Les Chimères. It seems to me that Nerval communicates perfectly how this coast of southern Italy echoes with the myths of the Greeks and the Romans. My favorite poem is “Delfica.” The poet calls upon a woman, Dafné, to...[read on]
Among the early praise for Éminence:
"Cardinal Richelieu (1585 1642) may be best known from Alexander Dumas's The Three Musketeers as a man even more powerful than the French king. In this gripping new biography, Blanchard, associate professor of French literature and politics at Swarthmore, brings Richelieu to life and demonstrates that the cardinal's power grew out of his dependence on and loyalty to the king. Blanchard's chronicle traces Richelieu's life and career from his birth in Paris to a nobleman and high-ranking court official.... Blanchard's captivating biography vividly captures the rise to power of a seminal figure who was instrumental in creating France as we know it."
--Publishers Weekly

"For his first English-language work, Blanchard (French literature & politics, Swarthmore Coll.) takes on the biography of one of the most legendary and infamous statesmen of France, Armand-Jean du Plessis, otherwise known as Cardinal Richelieu. Using a wealth of manuscripts, correspondence, and other primary sources, Blanchard paints a riveting picture of the scope of Richelieu's career amid the melodramatic intrigues of the main figures of the early Bourbon dynasty.... While the life of the notorious cardinal is hardly untouched material for writers, Blanchard's biography is one of few recent treatments of the subject in English and should be well received by scholars and general readers with a serious interest in French military or political history."
--Library Journal
Learn more about Éminence at the publisher's website and the book's Facebook page.

Writers Read: Jean-Vincent Blanchard.

--Marshal Zeringue