Madame de Stael: The First Modern Woman - Francine Du Plessix Gray

Madame de Staël was said to possess such personal charms that she could lure any suitor into her den. One of her earliest lovers after her unhappy, arranged marriage to a Swedish diplomat was Tallyrand. From then on, Mme. de Staël amassed a large circle of lovers, many introduced to her by previous lovers, and two of whom fathered her children. There were also many swains in her personal entourage at the same time. But despite her romantic conquests, Mme. de Staël's real interests were in French literary and political life. Her salon, the most brilliant in Paris, was attended by the finest minds, while in darker venues, her ceaseless political machinations earned the anger and enmity of Napoleon, who eventually exiled her. In exile, she continued to hold her salons and to write both fiction and essays. Her life was so full, her character so forceful, and her literary goals so passionate, that it is easy to understand why Francine du Plessix Gray was attracted to her. I think the author must have possessed many of the same female charms as Madame de Staël, because she was courted by George Plimpton; and the Paris Review's first managing editor was said to be rendered paralyzed with love for her.