A Voice from Exile
Newly Discovered Letters to Madame de Gouville and the Abbé de Hautefeuille (1697-1701)

Denys Potts

Research Monographs in French Studies 10


1 May 2002  •  104pp

ISBN: 1-900755-50-5 (paperback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85


The celebrated French critic and thinker Charles de Saint-Evremond (1614-1703) spent much of his life in exile in London, where he wrote most of his major works. The letters in the present collection, long thought to have been lost, were rescued from obscurity by Denys Potts, and are published here for the first time. Written to Madame de Gouville, whose friendship he happily rediscovered in his declining years, and to the Abbé de Hautefeuille, secretary to the Duchesse de Bouillon, the two series of interwoven letters form a single narrative which, for sheer spontaneity and verve, is matched only by the letters of Madame de Sévigné. This edition represents the largest single discovery of Saint-Evremond letters, and includes many that were previously inaccessible in private collections.

Denys Potts is an Emeritus Fellow of Keble College, Oxford, and a former Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. His publications include a pioneering doctoral dissertation on Saint-Evremond, and French Thought since 1600, co-authored with D. G. Charlton.


  • ‘In the introduction to this little book, Denys Potts gives an excellent introduction to Saint-Evremond's career and writings... Most of the space in the letters is given over to financial details of a Balzacian kind, but in between these come flashes of the wit and man-about-town, nostalgic moments, thoughts about literature, reflections on age.’ — Peter France, Times Literary Supplement 1 November, 2002
  • ‘This book is a delight on a number of levels... The exemplary introduction and notes by Denys Potts offer far more than one might expect: not only do we learn about the contents of the letters themselves, but we are also given an erudite yet highly readable account of Saint-Evremond's life and his importance as both thinker and stylist... Invaluable documentary material for Saint-Evremond scholars and a fine introduction to a master of the epistolary art.’ — Nicholas Hammond, Modern Language Review 98.4, 2003, 986-7 (full text online)
  • ‘These letters seek help in pressing for private annuity payments long overdue. Those to his fellow-Norman Mme de Gouville are embroidered with self-ironic 'galanteries' and with jokes about the tight-fistedness of their province. Letters to the abbé, an amateur scientist and inventor, playfully evoke debt-recovery in terms of Cartesian mechanics.’ — Robin Howells, Huguenot Society Proceedings 28.1, 2003, 121
  • ‘A particularly full and illuminating account of the life and thought of [Potts's] elusive subject... The letters afford a kind of coda to the biography that leads into them.’ — Richard Parish, French Studies LVIII.1, 2004, 105-6
  • ‘This volume also provides a very useful introduction, which gives an overview of Saint-Evremond's life and ideas and the context in which the letters were written.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies XL.2, April 2004, 238

Bibliography entry:

Potts, Denys, Saint-Evremond: A Voice from Exile, Research Monographs in French Studies, 10 (Legenda, 2002)

First footnote reference: 35 Saint-Evremond: A Voice from Exile, denys Potts, Research Monographs in French Studies, 10 (Legenda, 2002), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Potts, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Potts, Denys. 2002. Saint-Evremond: A Voice from Exile, Research Monographs in French Studies, 10 (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Potts 2002: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Potts 2002: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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