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Germaine de Staël

Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein known as Madame de Staël, was a Franco-Swiss woman of letters and political theorist of Genevan origin who in her lifetime witnessed at first-hand the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era up to the French Restoration. She was present at the Estates General of 1789 and at the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, her intellectual collaboration with Benjamin Constant between 1794 and 1810 made them one of the most celebrated intellectual couples of their time. She discovered sooner than designs of Napoleon. For many years she lived as an exile – firstly during the Reign of Terror and due to personal persecution by Napoleon. In exile she became the fulcrum of the Coppet group with her unrivalled network of contacts across Europe. In 1814 one of her contemporaries observed that "there are three great powers struggling against Napoleon for the soul of Europe: England and Madame de Staël". Known as a witty and brilliant conversationalist dressed in daring outfits, she stimulated the political and intellectual life of her times.

Her works, whether novels, travel literature or polemics, emphasized individuality and passion made a lasting mark on European thought. De Staël spread the notion of Romanticism by its repeated use. Germaine was the only child of Suzanne Curchod, who hosted in Rue de la Chaussée-d'Antin one of the most popular salons of Paris and prominent banker and statesman Jacques Necker, the Director-General of Finance under King Louis XVI of France. Mme Necker wanted her daughter educated according to the principles of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and endow her with the intellectual education and Calvinist discipline instilled in her by her pastor father. On Friday's she brought Germaine as a young child to sit at her feet in her salon, where the guests took pleasure in stimulating the brilliant child. At the age of 13, she read Montesquieu, Shakespeare and Dante; this exposure contributed to a nervous breakdown in adolescence, but the seeds of a literary vocation had been sown. Her father "is remembered today for taking the unprecedented step in 1781 of making public the country’s budget, a novelty in an absolute monarchy where the state of the national finances had always been kept secret, leading to his dismissal in May of that year."

The family took up residence in 1784 at Château Coppet, an estate her father purchased on Lake Geneva. The family returned to the Paris region in 1785, Mlle Necker continued to write miscellaneous works, including the three-act romantic drama Sophie and the five-act tragedy, Jeanne Grey. Aged 11, Germaine had suggested to her mother she marry Edward Gibbon, a visitor to her salon, whom she found most attractive, she reasoned, he would always be around for her. In 1783, at seventeen, she was courted by William Pitt the Younger and by the fop Comte de Guibert, whose conversation, she thought, was the most far-ranging and fertile she had known; when she did not accept their offers Germaine's parents became impatient. In the event, a marriage was arranged with Baron Erik Magnus Staël von Holstein, a Protestant and attaché of the Swedish legation to France, it took place on 14 January 1786 in the Swedish embassy at Rue du Bac. On the whole, the marriage seems to have been workable for both parties, although neither seems to have had any or little affection for the other.

The baron a gambler, obtained great benefits from the match as he received 80,000 pounds and was confirmed as lifetime ambassador to Paris, although his wife was certainly the more effective envoy. In 1788, de Staël published Letters on the works and character of J. J. Rousseau. In this panegyric, written for a limited number of friends, she demonstrated evident talent, but little critical discernment. De Staël was at this time enthusiastic about the mixture of Rousseau's ideas about love and Montesquieu's on politics. In December 1788 her father persuaded the king to double the number of deputies at the Third Estate in order to gain enough support to raise taxes to defray the excessive costs of supporting the revolutionaries in America; this approach had serious repercussions on Necker's reputation. In an argument with the king, whose speech on 23 June he didn't attend, Necker was dismissed and exiled on 11 July. On Sunday, 12 July the news became public and an angry Camille Desmoulins suggested storming the Bastille.

On 16 July he was reappointed. His efforts to clean up public finances were unsuccessful and his idea of a National Bank failed. Necker was attacked by Jean-Paul Marat and Count Mirabeau in the Constituante, when he did not agree with using assignats as legal tender, he resigned on 4 September 1790. Accompanied by their son-in-law, her parents left for Switzerland, without the two million livres, half of his fortune, loaned as an investment in the public treasury in 1778; the increasing disturbances caused by the Revolution made her privileges as the consort of an ambassador an important safeguard. Germaine held a salon in the Swedish embassy, where she gave "coalition dinners", which were frequented by moderates such as Talleyrand and De Narbonne, monarchists such as Antoine Barnave, Charles Lameth and his brothers Alexandre and Théodore, the Comte de Clermont-Tonnerre, Pierre Victor, baron Mal

The Man Who Had Three Arms

The Man Who Had Three Arms is a two-act play for three actors by Edward Albee. The play ran on Broadway in 1983; the play takes place in a theatre where the main character Himself is about to speak to the assembled group about his life of celebrity as "The Man Who Had Three Arms". The other two actors of the play, The Man and The Woman, variously, two people who are introducing Himself, the parents and wife of Himself, the manager of Himself. In the first act, Himself describes his transformation from a successful family man to a person, horrified to discover that a third arm is growing from between his shoulder blades. In the second act, Himself describes being on the celebrity circuit and all that entails—“money, adulation”—while he grows more and more in debt, his wife leaves him. He falls apart in front of the audience only to deal with a final surprise; the play contains harsh satire of the Catholic Church, the excesses of the culture of celebrity, the shallowness of parent/child relationships, involves some interaction between the lead character and the audience.

It contains quite a bit of humor and occasional vulgar language. The third arm may be a metaphor for the discovery and development of genius or talent in an otherwise unremarkable individual; the play was commissioned for the New World Festival of the Arts in Florida. The play premiered at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, Florida, in June 1982. Directed by Albee, the cast was Robert Drivas, Patricia Kilgarriff, William Prince; the play had a tryout at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago in October 1982, with Drivas and Wyman Pendleton. The play premiered on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre on April 5, 1983 and closed on April 17, 1983 after 8 previews and 16 performances. Directed by Albee the cast featured Robert Drivas as "Himself", Patricia Kilgarriff as "The Woman" and William Prince as "The Man"; the play was presented in Albright College, Pennsylvania, in November 1988. It was directed by starred Edward Fernandez. Dr. Morrow presented the production in Edinburgh, Scotland, in August 1989, where it won a "Fringe First" award.

Frank Rich reviewing the production for The New York Times wrote that it "isn't a play - it's a temper tantrum in two acts... One of the more shocking lapses of Mr. Albee's writing is that he makes no attempt to pretend that Himself is anything other than a maudlin stand-in for himself, with the disappearing arm representing an atrophied talent."The Christian Science Monitor reviewer wrote: "The Man Who Had Three Arms could well be the bitter complaint of a playwright whose earlier great success has been followed by a wounding decline in popular and critical response. In this respect, the play is a sad spectacle, yet it offers passages of eloquence and emotional power. Furthermore, in attacking the world, Himself has been well armed with the Albee arsenal of articulate attack weapons."The play ran for only 16 performances - at least one of, booed during the curtain call. Albee did not have another new play performed in New York City for the next 11 years

Diane d'Andoins

Diane d'Andoins or d'Andouins was born in Hagetmau in the fall of 1554, died there in February 1621. The Countess of Guiche, called "the beautiful Corisande", she was known for having been a royal mistress of King Henri III of Navarre between 1582 and 1591, she was the daughter of Marguerite of Cauna and of Paul, Baron of Andoins, Lord of Lescar and Count of Louvigny. She became one of the wealthiest heiresses of Béarn. Emancipated on 6 August 1567, she was married on Thursday 21 November 1568 to Philibert of Gramont, Seneschal of Béarn, Count of Gramont and of Guiche, Viscount of Aster and of Louvigny, Lord of Lescure, Governor of Bayonne who was, at the time only 15 himself. Philibert died of a wound received in 1580 during the siege of La Fère in Picardy, Diane found herself a widow at the age of 26, she was the mother of Antoine II, Duke of Gramont, a daughter, Catherine. A woman renowned for great beauty and no less extensive culture, she was acquainted with Montaigne, she fell in love with courtly literature, it was in the chivalric romance Amadis de Gaula that she found a heroine that she could identify with, whose name she adopted: "Corisande".

Henri III of Navarre met her thanks to the friendship between her and his sister Catherine de Bourbon and he courted her persistently. She had a great influence on him between 1582 and 1590, when she, unlike his other mistresses, was a partner in his business dealings; the countess, in return, remained devoted to him all his life. During the Wars of the League, she sold her diamonds for him, pawned her possessions, went so far as to send out to him an army of 20,000 Gascons whom she had enlisted at her expense. Henry wrote to her "with his blood" a promise of marriage, according to an anecdote told by Agrippa d'Aubigné, but he did not keep his word, she was the cause of the disfavor of Françoise de Montmorency-Fosseux and Protestants worried about the influence of this Catholic on the sovereign of Béarn. Certain genealogists attribute a son, Antonin, to this affair, she died in February 1621 in her castle of Hagetmau. Fr:Esther Imbert Antoine III de Gramont Henry IV of France's wives and mistresses List of French royal mistresses Ribeton, Olivier.

"Un musée Gramont à Bayonne". Bulletins de la Société des Sciences, Lettres et Arts de Bayonne. Bayonne.p. 403 Boucher, Jacqueline. Deux épouses et reines à la fin du XVIe siècle: Louise de Lorraine et Marguerite de France. Publications de l'Universitie de Saint-Étienne. D'Aubigné, Agrippa. Weber, H.. Oeuvres. Droz. Ritter, Raymond. Une dame de chevalerie, Corisande d'Andoins, comtesse de Guiche. A. Michel. Media related to Diane d'Andouins at Wikimedia Commons