Lettres d’une Péruvienne

  • Author: Françoise de Graffigny
  • Editors: Joan DeJean, Nancy K. Miller
  • Pages: xxviii & 168 pp.
  • Published: 1993
  • ISBN: 9780873527774 (Paperback)
Lettres d'une Pruvienne Cover
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“Long denied ‘classic status’ by the old pedagoguery, Graffigny’s only novel, excellently translated by David Kornacker, has apparently benefited from the ‘canon revision’ of the new.”

—Times Literary Supplement

One of the most popular works of the eighteenth century, Lettres d’une Péruvienne appeared in more than 130 editions, reprints, and translations during the hundred years following its publi cation in 1747. In the novel the Inca princess Zilia is kidnapped by Spanish conquerors, captured by the French after a battle at sea, and taken to Europe. Graffigny’s brilliant novel offered a bold critique of French society, delivered one of the most vehement feminist protests in eighteenth-century literature, and announced—fourteen years before Rousseau’s Julie, or the New Eloise—the Romantic tradition in French literature.

Born in 1695, Françoise de Graffigny (née d’Happencourt) grew up in Lorraine. Married in 1712, she was the victim of frequent and violent physical abuse by her husband. She was granted a legal separation, but not before he had squandered much of her dowry. In 1738, Graffigny moved to Paris and began a writing career, during which she penned stories, children’s fables, plays (one of which, Cénie, was a smash hit in 1750), and Lettres d’une Péruvienne. She died in Paris in 1758.