Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Marie Antoinette And Powerlessness

Camille Paglia, writing in The Chronicle Review, remarks that Marie Antoinette's reputation is recovering somewhat from the "let them eat cake" travesty which defined her for so long, nothwithstanding Edmund Burke's spirited contemporaneous defence of her.

Ms Paglia herself concludes, with fitting, if infuriatingly vague, grandiloquence:

"The return of Marie Antoinette suggests that there are political forces at work in the world that Western humanism does not fully understand and that it may not be able to control."

Could be. Although such unknowable "political forces" have always been with us, and always will be. It could also be that Marie Antoinette's story is at once irresistibly romantic and symbolic - yet continuously controversial - a rare combination guaranteed to keep her in the limelight.

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