The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette (Hardcover)

The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette By Chantal Thomas, Julie Rose (Translator) Cover Image
By Chantal Thomas, Julie Rose (Translator)
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(Women in Art)


The Wicked Queen is not a biography of one of the most infamous queens in history. Rather, Chantal Thomas presents the history of the verbal and visual representations of Marie-Antoinette, the history of her mythification. Almost as soon as Marie-Antoinette, archduchess of Austria, was brought to France in 1771 as the bride of Louis XVI, she was smothered in images.

In a monarchy increasingly under assault, the charm and horror of her feminine body and her destructive political power as a foreign intruder turned Marie-Antoinette into an alien other -- the bestial "arch-tigress of Austria." Working as a historian and writing like a novelist, Thomas reveals how Marie-Antoinette came to symbolize the marginalization and negation of women in French society before the French Revolution.

In a series of pamphlets written between the 1770s and her death in 1793, Marie-Antoinette was portrayed as a frivolous and extravagant spendthrift and lesbian, an incestuous and bloodthirsty libertine, a poisoner and infant murderess. "Through her wickedness," writes Thomas, "she caused the Revolution."

In her analyses of these anonymous pamphlets, seven of which are included here in translation for the first time, Thomas reconstructs how the pamphleteers' mounting hallucinatory and libelous discourse culminated in the inevitable and physical destruction of what had become the counterrevolutionary symbol par excellence. The Wicked Queen exposes the complex and complicated history and power of an image, the elaborate process by which the myth of Marie-Antoinette emerged as a crucial element in the successful staging of the French Revolution.

About the Author

Chantal Thomas is a researcher at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. She is the author of Marquis de Sade: L'Oeil de la lettre (1978) and Casanova: Un Voyage libertin (1985).
Product Details
ISBN: 9780942299397
ISBN-10: 0942299396
Publisher: Zone Books
Publication Date: April 6th, 1999
Pages: 256
Language: English
Series: Zone Books