Talleyrand and living

July 7 2010

“Celui qui n’a pas vécu au dix-huitième siècle avant la Révolution ne connaît pas la douceur de vivre et ne peut imaginer ce qu’il peut y avoir de bonheur dans la vie. C’est le siècle qui a forgé toutes les armes victorieuses contre cet insaisissable adversaire qu’on appelle l’ennui. L’Amour, la Poésie, la Musique, le Théâtre, la Peinture, l’Architecture, la Cour, les Salons, les Parcs et les Jardins, la Gastronomie, les Lettres, les Arts, les Sciences, tout concourait à la satisfaction des appétits physiques, intellectuels et même moraux, au raffinement de toutes les voluptés, de toutes les élégances et de tous les plaisirs.”

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Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Mémoires du Prince de Talleyrand.

People in rich countries today, even the rich people, don’t know very much about douceur de vivre.

One Response to “Talleyrand and living”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    I gather that these memoirs, published in 1891, long after his death, may not be authentic.

    There is a class-conscious version of this in Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger (2008). The servant-made-good writes: “I will never envy the rich of America or England […]: they have no servants there. They cannot even begin to understand what a good life is.”

    But I have heard poor(ish) people in some countries, such as Turkey and Pakistan, say something to the effect that they have a better idea of the sweetness of living than most Westerners.

    I saw the pre-tourism douceur de vivre of the Mediterranean when I went to Tunis in 1977.


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