Monday, September 2, 2013


Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, commonly known as Madame de Staël, wrote her most famous work in 1807: “Corinne, or Italy” (Corinne ou l'Italie). In this work, at some point of her stay in Scotland, the protagonist reaches a moment when a crucial decision is made with the unexpected help of some people from Livorno:
Portrait of Madame de Staël as Corinna by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun
[Portrait of Madame de Staël as Corinna by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun]

“Then, toward evening on the following Sunday, I heard some singers under my window—Italians who had come from Leghorn on the ship. Theresina had drawn them there as a pleasant surprise. I cannot express what I felt. Floods of tears rained down on my face; all my memories were bom again. Nothing retraces the past like music—more than retraces it. When music evokes the past it seems like the ghosts of those we loved, covered by a veil of melancholy and mystery. The musicians sang those delicious lines written by Monti in his exile:

Bella Italia, amate sponde,
Pur vi torno a riveder.
Trema in petto e si confonde
L’alma oppressa dal piacer.
(Beautiful Italy! Beloved shores!
I come again to see thee
My soul fainting with pleasure
Trembling and stunned within me.)

I was intoxicated. I felt for Italy everything we feel when we are in love—desire, enthusiasm, longing—I was not my own mistress. My whole soul was drawn toward my native land. I needed to see it, to breathe it, to hear it; every beat of my heart called me to my beautiful home, my smiling countryside.”
(Madame de Staël, Corinne: Or, Italy, 14.3)

External links: Germaine de Staël - Vincenzo Monti (Wikipedia)


Randy said...

What a beautiful painting.

cieldequimper said...

Now I have to re-read her.

JM said...

Love the last paragraph. Great post, VP.

Luis Gomez said...

Beautiful! Thank you VP. Wonderful post.