For those of you who wondered what Olympe may have been up to when she spent hours at her mirror to look beautiful, here is a fun and informative (and short) documentary,
From the preface of Le Philosophe Corrigé ou le Cocu Supposé:
Everything upsets me, and everything makes me laugh. A change of wind affronts me if I don't expect it, and can reduce me to intolerable wrath; but if I am ready, I can bear any event or suffering better than the most phlegmatic man. Small upsets cause me great anguish, but great ills bring me calm and give me courage. I am full of little flaws, but I possess great virtues. Very few know me completely, and few can appreciate my true worth. People argue about me. Everyone sees me differently and judges accordingly, but I am notwithstanding unchanged, it is not I who varies. I can only value truly honest people. I hate those who are false and all villains, I shun knaves and flattery – you can appreciate why I am often alone. But I do not get bored of my own company and do not fear contagion. I was truly made for society, but I left it early, at the height of my youth. Often I have been called pretty – I do not know whether I am – and I did not believe it then, since I spent so much of my days at my mirror trying to make myself beautiful. Now – and I make light of it – my friends accuse me of too much simplicity in my social interactions, they tell me all the time that I do not make enough of my talents, that once one has begun to acquire a literary reputation it will not do to speak to everybody, and that one should only open ones' mouth to pass judgment, or to be gracious to someone important; that one should embellish one's conversation with studied wit, proclaim one's importance at every opportunity, not be self-critical in writing and have a mind sufficiently grand that it can be scornful. Here are wise precepts, I must say. But I cannot follow them. I must call a cat, a cat, and C*** (Caron de Beaumarchais), a rascal. I grumble against villains because I am incapable of harming them or planning a secret revenge. I joke about others, and myself because I am of a gay disposition. I laugh now about what must befall me, because there is no point in crying about it. I am simple with everyone, but proud with the great, because titles and honours never dazzle me.
Image courtesy of Gallica the electronic references site of the BNF (Bibliothèque Nationale de France), who recently announced that researchers could use their images for free in all their publications.
Note that I have the flu, not the bubonic plague.
Although we know that Olympe spent much time protesting that she wrote her own books, and also that she was ignorant but that nature itself spoke through her, this passage, from the preface of Le Philosophe Corrigé ou le Cocu Supposé shows how she also turned the tables on her critiques to accuse them - more or less - of plagiarism.
I am the student of nature. I have said so before, and I repeat it now, I owe nothing to the science of men. I am my work and when I compose, there is nothing on my table but ink, paper, and pens. Very often I have bad secretaries who multiply my mistakes instead of correcting them. These are the useful resources that adorn my productions.
This is where I live blog about my new book project, an intellectual biography of three French Revolutionary women philosophers.