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Building Fictive Worlds

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores Montpensier’s self-construction strategies in her literary work and argues that the fictional worlds these novels create—a moon, an island, and a faraway realm—function as the “others” of the châteaux in which she performed herself as a woman of high rank and power. To be sure, the narrators in Histoire de Jeanne Lambert d’Herbigny, Marquise de Fouquesolles (1653) and Relation de l’isle imaginaire (1659) cast Montpensier and her châteaux or estates in opposition to the historical Marquise de Fouquesolles and Sieur Busillet de Messimieu, lower nobles who aspired to higher ranks and whom Montpensier’s narrators mock and vilify. As a result, these novels project the anxieties of those who saw as a threat the emergence of individuals climbing the social ladder. By contrast, the exotic kingdom created in Histoire de la Princesse de Paphlagonie (1659), populated as it is by unmarried queens who were heads of state, serves to explore an alternative space in which to manifest ideals of female autonomy and power.



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