Renee Winegarten --> reviewed by Tess Lewis -->

Everything about Germaine de Staël, “the most outstanding, innovative, and notorious woman writer” of post-revolutionary France, was extravagant. She was a force of nature who talked from the moment she woke up until she fell asleep. She compensated for her lack of conventional beauty with feathered turbans, brightly colored flowing gowns, and a disregard for social niceties. Enthusiasm, for Madame de Staël, was not just an emotion: It was a religion of fine sentiment and noble feelings, an appreciation of higher things, and a passionate pursuit of le bonheur. This sounds perilously close to Romantic self-indulgence, but Germaine de Staël stiffened her enthusiasm with immense...


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