Marie d`Agoult

The Rebel Countess

Richard Bolster

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Talented and resolutely independent, Marie d’Agoult (1805–76) was one of the most remarkable women of her time. Abandoning her privileged position in society, she eloped with her great love, the pianist and composer Franz Liszt, and later won fame as a writer under the penname Daniel Stern. She published fiction, articles on literature, music, art, and politics, and a history of the revolution of 1848, and she was an eloquent advocate for democracy, the eradication of poverty, and the emancipation of women.

Drawing on her memoirs, letters, and other unpublished writings, Richard Bolster’s engrossing biography sets Marie d’Agoult’s eventful life against a backdrop of dramatic political change in France. Courted by many important figures of her day, she married a nobleman and became a member of the court of Charles X. Her passion for music eventually brought her into contact with Liszt, with whom she moved to Italy and had three children. After their idealistic romance degenerated into disenchantment, d’Agoult returned to Paris, began her writing career, and established a salon for artists, reformers, and freethinkers. Bolster explains how George Sand became d’Agoult’s friend and then betrayed her by giving Balzac information about her affair with Liszt, which he used in his novel Béatrix. He concludes with a moving account of d’Agoult’s last years.

Richard Bolster is senior lecturer in French at the University of Bristol.

“An eminently readable book that makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of an important woman and her historical period.”—Dennis Wood, University of Birmingham

“[The author] brings the countess to life in a spare, elegant biography that also illuminates the aristocratic culture she rebelled against and the new, marginally more egalitarian world to which she never quite belonged. . . . This biography is so well done, its subject, the countess, so obviously worth knowing about, though, that many readers may be persuaded to search out and read her work in the original.”—William T. Hamilton, Bloomsbury Review

“The breadth of Bolster’s well-focused, readable work makes it an excellent choice for undergraduate collections, since it uses d’Agoult as a window into 19th-century France.”—Choice

“Written with sympathy and depth, Marie d’Agoult: The Rebel Countess . . . is enthralling to read. Known in her time as the writer Daniel Stern and the lover of Franz Liszt, d’Agoult was a daring woman who lived her life on her own terms in a time of change.”—History Magazine

"In addition to narrative skill, the biography provides extensive and perceptive discussions of Marie d’Agoult’s major writings, making it both an interesting and a useful introduction to the life of a fascinating individual."—Lynn Hoggard, Southern Humanities Review

Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2001 by Choice Magazine
ISBN: 9780300082463
Publication Date: August 11, 2000
288 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
22 b/w illus.