The Lady of the Holy Alliance: The Life of Julie de Kreudener

The Lady of the Holy Alliance: The Life of Julie de Kreudener

The Lady of the Holy Alliance: The Life of Julie de Kreudener

The Lady of the Holy Alliance: The Life of Julie de Kreudener

Excerpt

In this book I have attempted to describe the restless and extraordinary life of a woman whose career fell across one of the great formative periods of modern times. Two presuppositions may be said to underlie its pages. In the first place, I assume that such a career may have an interest in itself; and, in the second place, I assume that a careful biographical analysis will help to reveal the social currents of an age. What I have tried to do, in brief, is to follow Madame de Krüdenerfrom one milieu to another and to make clear both her actions and the intellectual climates which successively enveloped her. To have analyzed these climates with complete thoroughness would, I think, have resulted in a work altogether too ponderous for the frailties of its subject. More than once I have been conscious of the danger which comes from surrounding a very human personality with an alarming mass of critical apparatus. And I have been very keenly aware of the perennial problem of biography-the maintenance of a correct balance between the claims of the individual and of the environment.

The literature on Madame de Krüdener is considerable. At least five biographies have appeared in German, six in French, and one each in Swedish, English, and Russian. Only three of these, the works of Eynard, Mühlenbeck, and Pypin, may be said to have made important original contributions; the rest are derivative. A surprising quantity of pamphlet literature arose from her religious activities, and her acquaintance with contemporaries was so wide that diaries, memoirs, and letters abound in references to her. Her original correspondence for the most part is lost, but the Swiss biographer, Eynard, who published her life in 1849, had access to and printed a great many letters not now to be found. I have been able to see a few surviving letters in Berlin and Paris, from which I gain the im-

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