The Memoirs of Catherine the Greatby Published 13 Jun 2006
|The Memoirs of Catherine the Great.pdf|
Empress Catherine II brought Europe to Russia, and Russia to Europe, during her long and eventful reign (1762--96). She fostered the culture of the Enlightenment and greatly expanded the immense empire created by Czar Ivan the Terrible, shifting the balance of power in Europe eastward. Famous for her will to power and for her dozen lovers, Catherine was also a prolific and gifted writer.
Fluent in French, Russian, and German, Catherine published political theory, journalism, comedies, operas, and history, while writing thousands of letters as she corresponded with Voltaire and other public figures. The Memoirs of Catherine the Great provides an unparalleled window into eighteenth-century Russia and the mind of an absolute ruler.
With insight, humor, and candor, Catherine presents her eyewitness account of history, from her whirlwind entry into the Russian court in 1744 at age fourteen as the intended bride of Empress Elizabeth I's nephew, the eccentric drunkard and future Peter III, to her unhappy marriage; from her two children, several miscarriages, and her and Peter's numerous affairs to the political maneuvering that enabled Catherine to seize the throne from him in 1762. Catherine's eye for telling details makes for compelling reading as she describes the dramatic fall and rise of her political fortunes.
This definitive new translation from the French is scrupulously faithful to her words and is the first for which translators have consulted original manuscripts written in Catherine's own hand. It is an indispensable work for anyone interested in Catherine the Great, Russian history, or the eighteenth century.
From the Hardcover edition.
The Memoirs of Catherine the Great Reviews
Though I enjoyed reading this memoir it took me a very long time to finish. The end of the memoir was pretty dry. The book covers the years of 1728 thru 1759.
I'm drawn to the life of Catherine the Great as I can relate to much of her life. She was cynical and sincere. "A Humanitarian and an enlightened ruler but ruthless." She believed that "human reason, common sense and tolerance could combat ignorance, tyranny and superstition to build an an enlightened better world." A graphomaniac who enjoyed philosophy and believed in freedom of the serfs, a strong structured economy and education.
It saddened me to read about how her children were taken away from her at birth and she was not allowed to see them for several weeks after their births and for only a short time. I cannot imagine the loneliness of a loveless marriage and an Empress who forbids you to see your own children.
Peter III was a twit and puss. I can't imagine being married to such an immature dimwit. To know that he would eventually killed by Scarface didn't bother me one bit. Go big Cath!
I will be looking into reading her personal letters. I wish she would have continued to write a memoir throughout her colorful and political life.
A wonderful memoir! It is a truly honest work by a no holds barred woman. This work gives fine detail about court life in 18th-century Russia. Although Catherine was constantly surrounded by people at court, she often remarked about being bored and lonely (it didn't help that she had a childish and cruel husband who was a complete maniac) and usually kept to herself by reading and walking around in the garden. I was really surprised by how much the royal family moved around. They had summer and winter palaces and were always on the move. I was also surprised by how many masquerades, balls, ballets, and plays they went to. Sometimes, they had masquerades almost every night. Didn't these people have anything better to do? Overall, this was a great read except for the long prologue, the large cast of characters from the court, and the abrupt ending. I wish the ending was better, but maybe she never finished that part of her memoirs or maybe that section was lost. I didn't like how it left you hanging - it was as if it ended in mid-sentence.
I read this right after a trip to Moscow, so I found it fascinating. If you just happened across it and didn't have Russian on the brain, maybe not. A warning--this was a memoir written for future publication, not a diary, so it was really Catherine's attempt to vindicate herself and doesn't go into much seamy detail. And it doesn't cover her reign at all, just the years from her marriage until right before her reign. But it was a good read for anyone wanting to know about the workings of the Russian court of that time.
"Вот так всегда: на самом интересном месте!"
Удивительно, конечно, читать воспоминания Екатерины Великой. Не могу не отметить, что у нее хороший слог и отличное чувство юмора. Автобиографию воспринимаешь как увлекательный роман о закулисной жизни русского императорского двора XVIII века.
Я не питаю никаких иллюзий на тему столь необычного автора. Понятно, что историю пишут победители, и все описанное в мемуарах - исключительно события ее глазами. Или такие, как она хочет нам представить. Вот, что интересно. Обычно говорят, что Екатерина выставляет Петра III в ужасном свете, так, как ей выгодно. А я вот ничего ужасного в том, что она говорит, не увидела. Да, она его не любила. Да, считала его глупым. Попрекала за излишнюю любовь к алкоголю. И все. Зато о себе у нее, конечно, очень высокое мнение. Но разве ее позиция не подтвердилась в дальнейшем?!
Очень жаль, что Екатерина не успела закончить мемуары. Книга обрывается, причем на самом интересном месте - ее разговоре с Елизаветой Петровной о поведении наследника престола. О том, что было дальше Википедия не расскажет. Расскажет, конечно, но совсем не так, как сама Екатерина.
Very different than the cyclopedic entries on this empress' life! We read of Paul III and yet the stunning details of his spousal removal are not included; a gossip magazine once said that Catherine assembled numerous lovers and ruled, though most of us can do only one of those things. Romantic impressions from Hollywood's THE SCARLET EMPRESS with Marlene Dietrich sum up our appreciations of Catherine, despite her real life as lived and seen by us here; we read of mother-in-law unpleasant masquerades whereby male courtiers would have to don cheesecloth and ladies trouser roles; we read of manifold court figures, and of predecessor Empress Elisabeth, the wisest and best Empress of Russia, according to a still-extant bronze cast bell inscription from the Kremlin. Unfortunately German Pomerania of Catherine's hometown principality Stettin is since 1945 German-expelled and Polish-administered with German Silesia and German East Prussia. But Catherine's separate Partition of Poland would make Poland as Austrian-German Prussian-Russian by an undying Three Emperors' League of the Three Northern Courts and the Holy Alliance of later treaties. Though as here presented, Catherine was an unusual bluestocking (a woman writer), she is one of the Greats. Her Imperial Majesty's goals included overturning the Ottoman Empire and bringing back the Glory That Was Greece, though Her Imperial Majesty passed away before that could take place and seemingly only saw herself as something like a schoolteacher from these pages.