26 setembro 2009

Ah, quanto me fica ainda por dizer..

In 1669, five love letters purported to be from a Portuguese nun to a French officer were published in Paris. Sensual and direct, they flew off the shelves of bookshops. Indeed, the letters were so frankly passionate - "I found surprising pleasures in loving you, but they cost me strange sufferings and all the stirrings that you cause me are extreme" - that most readers assumed the true author was a man, perhaps a playful aristocrat. Miriam Cyr disagrees. In Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Uncovering the Mystery Behind a 17th Century Forbidden Love -- A Historical Mystery (Miramax, $22.95), she argues that the writer really was a Portuguese nun, a wealthy 26-year-old woman named Mariana Alcoforado, who fell in love with the marquis of Chamilly while he was stationed near her convent in Beja. Sadly, after a brief and logistically challenging affair, he left for France; her letters haranguing him for abandoning her ended up in the hands of an opportunistic publisher, and so one of the world's first romantic bestsellers was born.
Rachel Hartigan Shea

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