The Princesse de Cleves

In popular culture

Beginning in 2006, before he became the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy had made some negative comments about the book, arguing that it was ridiculous that civil service entrance exams had included questions on La Princesse de Clèves. His comments were interpreted as an indication of his opinion that universities should prepare people for life in business, and not "waste" time with such things as literature. As a result, during the long movement of university lecturers in 2009 against his proposals, public readings of La Princesse de Clèves were held in towns around the country. Sales of the novel rose rapidly.[1]

In relation to this, the novel is used by French filmmaker Christophe Honoré for his 2008 film La Belle Personne. The plot of the film roughly follows that of the novel, but changes the setting to that of a modern-day French lycée (high school), thus referencing both the novel and the reason for its contemporary fame.

The novel was also the basis of Jean Delannoy's 1961 film of the same title (adapted by Jean Cocteau), Manoel de Oliveira's 1999 film The Letter, and Andrzej Żuławski's 2000 film Fidelity (starring Sophie Marceau).

The novel was the basis of Regis Sauder's 2011 film Nous, princesses de Clèves, in which teenagers in an inner city school are studying the novel for their Baccalaureate exam.

The novel was dramatised as a radio play directed by Kirsty Williams broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 28 February 2010 – see La Princesse de Clèves (radio play).[2]

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