13,736 book reviews and counting...

Last Libertines Reviews

Last Libertines by Benedetta Craveri, Aaron Kerner

The Last Libertines

Benedetta Craveri, Aaron Kerner

Score pending

1 review

Category: History, Non-fiction
Imprint: The New York Review of Books, Inc
Publisher: The New York Review of Books, Inc
Publication date: 26 May 2020
ISBN: 9781681373409

 

An enthralling work of history about the Libertine generation that came up during--and was eventually destroyed by--the French Revolution.

4 stars out of 5
9 Nov 2020

"A new biography looks at seven rakes of the Ancien Regime who were splendidly stylish – and surprisingly self-aware"

The author is perhaps too assiduous in tracing every backstory to the amorous encounters of her subjects. The burgeoning entanglement of dukes and duchesses and viscounts soon becomes as bewildering as a Tolstoy novel. But her tact in telling their stories, even when their imbroglios become farcical (as when one aristocrat hides in an armoire for 36 hours so he can steal a glance at his illegitimate son), is touching. In the end, we can’t help admiring these extraordinary people, because despite their utter immorality by our own standards, they adhere to an aristocratic code of honour as exacting as any religiously-inspired ethic – but much more stylish. When a friend of the Duc de Lauzun asks him what he would do if he discovered his wife were pregnant, despite not having seen her for six years, he replied: “I should say: I am charmed to learn that heaven has finally blessed our union. Look after your health; I’ll come to pay court to you this evening.”

Reviews