Author bio

Marguerite Yourcenar

Marguerite Yourcenar - book author

The first woman to be elected to The French Academy, the multi talented personality of Marguerite Yourcenar was a novelist, essayist, playwright, short story writer, poet and translator. She was an artist at reconstructing historical eras in the form of her novels. Her novels, dealing with modern issues set in historical eras won her immense fame as a writer.

The inheritance Yourcenar received after the death of her father, allowed her to devote herself to traveling and literary pursuits and love affairs on the Paris artistic scene. She joined a bohemian crowd of artists, moving between Paris, Lausanne, Athens, Istanbul, Brussels and the Greek islands, which inspired her travel writing "Nouvelles Orientales" and "Feux" based on Greek mythology.

Yourcenar was among the first female writers to live an openly lesbian lifestyle, and she moved to the USA in 1939 to live with her partner Grace Frick. The couple were to remain together until Frick’s death in 1979. She taught French History and History of Art, and continued to write: her novel "Mémoires d’Hadrien" was published in 1951 and enjoyed success with both the critics and the public worldwide.

She was an inveterate traveller and remained active right up to her death in 1987. She was a militant vegetarian and defender of the rights of animals and inspired Brigitte Bardot to set up her animal sanctuary.

Marguerite Yourcenar is the author of books: Memoirs of Hadrian, L'Œuvre au noir, Oriental Tales, Alexis ou le Traité du vain combat / Le Coup de grâce, Coup de Grâce, Fires, Alexis o el tratado del inútil combate, Anna, soror..., Mishima: A Vision of the Void, A Coin in Nine Hands


Author books

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Title
Description
01
Both an exploration of character and a reflection on the meaning of history, Memoirs of Hadrian has received international acclaim since its first publication in France in 1951. In it, Marguerite Yourcenar reimagines the Emperor Hadrian's arduous boyhood, his triumphs and reversals, and finally, as emperor, his gradual reordering of a war-torn world, writing with the imaginative insight of a great writer of the twentieth century while crafting a prose style as elegant and precise as those of the Latin stylists of Hadrian's own era.
02
En créant le personnage de Zénon, alchimiste et médecin du XVIe siècle, Marguerite Yourcenar, l'auteur des Mémoires d'Hadrien, ne raconte pas seulement le destin tragique d'un homme extraordinaire. C'est toute une époque qui revit dans son infinie richesse, comme aussi dans son âcre et brutale réalité ; un monde contrasté où s'affrontent le Moyen Age et la Renaissance, et où pointent déjà les temps modernes, monde dont Zénon est issu, mais dont peu à peu cet homme libre se dégage, et qui pour cette raison même finira par le broyer.
03
This collection includes: How Wang-fo was Saved, Marko's Smile, The Milk of Death, The Last Love of Princess Genji, The Man Who Loved the Nereids, Our Lady of the Swallows, Aphrodissia; the Widow, Kali Beheaded, The End of Marko Kraljevic, The Sadness of Cornelius Berg, and a Postscript by the Author.
04
Comme tous les héros de Marguerite Yourcenar, Alexis s'interroge pour mieux comprendre le monde et mieux se comprendre lui-même. Il cherche à sortir d'une situation fausse qui est l'échec de son mariage. Une longue lettre forme tout le récit où il prend sa femme à témoin du vain combat qu'il a mené contre son penchant naturel et sa vocation véritable.
Le Coup de grâce se situe dans les Pays baltes en 1919-1920. Par-delà l'anecdote de la fille qui s'offre et du garçon qui se refuse, le sujet central du roman est avant tout une communauté d'espèce, une solidarité du destin chez deux hommes et une femme soumis aux mêmes privations et aux mêmes dangers.
05
Set in the Baltic provinces in the aftermath of World War I, Coup de Grace tells the story of an intimacy that grows between three young people hemmed in by civil war: Erick, a Prussian fighting with the White Russians against the Bolsheviks; Conrad, his best friend from childhood; and Sophie, whose unrequited love for Conrad becomes an unbearable burden.
06
The product of a love crisis, Fires is in the form of a collection of love poems, or, rather, is like a sequence of lyrical prose pieces connected by a notion of love. As such, the book does not require any commentary.

From the preface by Marguerite Yourcenar.
08
Anna, soror... fut ecrit en quelques semaines du printemps 1925, au cours d'un séjour à Naples et immediatement au retour de celui-ci [...] Jamais invention romanesque ne fut plus immédiatement inspirée par les lieux où on la plaçait.
J'ai goûte pour la premiere fois avec Anna, soror... le suprême privilège du romancier, celui de se perdre tout entier dans ses personnages, ou de se laisser posseder par eux. Durant ces quelques semaines, et tout en continuant à faire les gestes et à assumer les rapports habituels de l'existence, j'ai vecu sans cesse à l'interieur de ces deux corps et de ces deux âmes, me glissant d'Anna en Miguel et de Miguel en Anna, avec cette différence au sexe qui est, je crois, celle de tous les createurs en presence de leurs creatures.
--Marguerite Yourcenar

09
On November 25, 1970, Japan's most renowned postwar novelist, Yukio Mishima, stunned the world by committing ritual suicide. Here, Marguerite Yourcenar, a brilliant reader of Mishima and a scholar with an eye for the cultural roles of fiction, unravels the author's life and politics: his affection for Western culture, his family and his homosexuality, his brilliant writings, and his carefully premeditated death.
10
During the space of a day in Rome in 1933, a ten-lira coin passes through the hands of nine people—including an aging artist, a prostitute, and a would-be assassin of Mussolini. The coin becomes the symbol of contact between human beings, each lost in private passions and nearly impenetrable solitude.

"A Coin in Nine Hands has . . . passages that move close to poetry and a story that belongs in both literature and history."—Doris Grumbach, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"What lingers at the end of A Coin in Nine Hands is the shadowiness and puppetlike vagueness of the Dictator, and the compelling specificity of the so-called 'common people' revolving all around him."—Anne Tyler, The New Republic

"Within a few pages we have met half the major characters in this haunting, brilliantly constructed novel. . . . The studied perfection, the structural intricacy and brevity remind one of Camus. Yet by comparison, Yourcenar's prose is lavish, emotional and imagistic."—Cynthia King, Houston Post

"Transcends its specific time and place to become a portrait of vividly delineated characters caught in the vise of a tragically familiar political situation."—Publisher's Weekly

Best known as the author of Memoirs of Hadrian and The Abyss, Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-87) achieved countless literary honors and was the first woman ever elected to the Académie Française.