Cover image for The life of Marie d'Agoult, alias Daniel Stern
The life of Marie d'Agoult, alias Daniel Stern
Stock-Morton, Phyllis, 1930-
Publication Information:
Baltimore ; London : Johns Hopkins University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 283 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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PQ2152.A38 Z92 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Marie de Flavigny (1805-1876). Countess d'Agoult, was one of France's free and independent women long before feminism came into its own. She was Franz Liszt's lover a friend of George Sand and a writer under the name Daniel Stern. She bore two children by her marriage with Count d'Agoult and three by Liszt, including Cosima, who would leaver her first husband to marry Richard Wagner.

Author Notes

Phyllis Stock-Morton is a professor emerita of history at Seton Hall University.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This is a masterly biography, the first ever produced in English of this pioneering, independent, and unusual woman. Better known for her tumultuous friendship with George Sand and her scandalous liaison with Franz Liszt, d'Agoult struggled to find her niche as a successful intellectual woman in her own right, writing under the name Daniel Stern. Always plagued by self-doubt and besieged by bouts of depression, d'Agoult assumed multiple roles: salonire, muse to a great artist, novelist, journalist, and historian. Separating from her husband, d'Agoult ran off with Liszt, lost legal custody of her children, had three more out of wedlock, and was disinherited by her family. Stock-Morton (emeritus, Seton Hall Univ.), the author of several books on French and women's history, tells d'Agoult's story with great sensitivity, placing her life squarely in the context of 19th-century intellectual Europe and informing her narrative with the insights of the most recent scholarship in women's history. Wherever possible, she uses d'Agoult's own words, drawn from letters, diaries, and memoirs. Highly recommended for scholars and serious readers.DMarie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Though both these books are expertly researched, written, and edited, they differ significantly. Well known in her day for daring independence in thought and deed, D'Agoult (1805-76) is today remembered for leaving her husband and two children to follow her lover, Franz Liszt. Though his engaging book tells the facts of D'Agoult's life, Bolster (Univ. of Bristol, UK) is primarily concerned with explaining the social context of an intelligent, well-educated, talented woman in 19th-century, paternalistic French society. Divorce was impossible, and women were subject to husband and family. Bolster discusses how when the married countess eloped with Liszt she was disowned by her mother; lost her rights to her children and her dowry; became dependent on the financial generosity of her husband in order to live with the itinerant composer; and never gained legal custody of the three children she had by Liszt. By contrast, Stock-Morton (emer., history, Seton Hall Univ.) focuses on the countess's personality, activities, and contributions. This biography describes at length the lingering death of D'Agoult's affair with Liszt, her success as an elegant hostess of a Parisian salon, her tragic difficulties with her children, and her writing. D'Agoult wrote several bad novels and plays, but she was a journalist and historian of importance. Her Histoire de la revolution de 1848 (1850)--written under her pseudonym, Daniel Stern--remains a pertinent resource. While remaining faithful to the wandering Liszt, she cultivated many important male friends--including such writers as Sainte-Beuve, Vigny, Balzac, Lamartine, Turgenev, and Eugene Sue--and a few women friends, e.g., Hortense Allart and George Sand. Both biographies are recommended for graduate students and above, but the breadth of Bolster's well-focused, readable work makes it an excellent choice for undergraduate collections, since it uses D'Agoult as a window into 19th-century France. A. H. Pasco; University of Kansas

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
1 "They believe that children born at midnight have a mysterious nature, are closer than others to the spirit world, are more visited with dreams and apparitions."p. 7
2 "What woman would not secretly consent to live on an altar, mute and veiled, to breathe the pure incense of sacrifice?"p. 22
3 "This need for exclusiveness, this need to be loved totally, has dominated all the feelings of my life."p. 39
4 "Alas, alas, where to find again such flights, such madness?"p. 55
5 "You need wide horizons, the infinite, the boundless and the unforeseen, whereas I need rules, a full program, the feeling of doing my duty, a set pace."p. 72
6 "Daniel. It was the name I had given to one of my children, the name of the prophet saved from the lion's den. Among all the Bible stories, that one pleased me most."p. 89
7 "Nonnenwerth, the tomb of my chimeras, of my ideal life, the ashes of my hopes!"p. 105
8 "The people is an eternal poet, in whom nature and passion inspire spontaneously touching beauties that art only painstakingly reproduces through grandiose effects."p. 120
9 "All direct action, all participation in public affairs being by custom denied to women, celebrity is for them only a vain and irritating excitation, a resounding isolation."p. 137
10 "I have taken more care than necessary in order to be always exact; my research has been minute, even in what concerns inconsiderable persons and facts."p. 151
11 "I love politics. It is for me the greatest of the arts: architecture with the building blocks of knowledge."p. 168
12 "Differently, but as completely as man, woman is created with a view to rational activity, whose principle is freedom, whose aim is progress, and whose exercize, within a society perpetually being transformed, cannot be arbitrarily circumscribed or determined."p. 187
13 "When a woman has created her life herself, and that life has not been governed by the common rules, she becomes in everyone's eyes responsible for it, more responsible than a man."p. 206
14 "I have never felt entirely French or entirely German but apart, isolated, somewhat foreign as well in the country where I was born as in that where destiny had me live."p. 226
Envoip. 246
Notesp. 249
Sourcesp. 273
Indexp. 277