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Valentina Denzel

Abstract

In 1697, Henriette-Julie de Castelnau, comtesse de Murat replies to the misogynistic Mémoires de la vie du Comte D***, published the previous year and falsely attributed to Saint-Évremond, with the publication of her Mémoires de Madame la Comtesse de M***. Murat’s work is dedicated to a female readership, and denounces the treacherousness of men who first seduce women and then blame them for their debauchery. The complex relationship between the Mémoires de la vie du Comte D*** and the Mémoires de Madame la Comtesse de M*** is due not only to their opposite positions in the Querelle des femmes: the first work advances misogynist stereotypes, while the second features “misogamist” and feminist counter-arguments. The two authors also take different stances on the genre of the novel. L’abbé Villiers, the real author of Mémoires de la vie du Comte D***, criticizes the novel for blending literary genres, as well as for its play with history and fiction, and its depictions of love scenes. According to Villiers, the erotic narrative of the novel that pretends to relate true and authentic events is misleading and encourages the readership to commit acts of debauchery. Villiers underlines in his work that women are particularly prone to coquetry and men fall too easily victims to female charms. Villiers had already criticized the novel in his previous works, and decided to write a mémoire himself, in order to better unmask its fictionality.