The Letters of a Portuguese Nun are published for the first time in Paris in 1669 as the translation of five letters from a Portuguese nun to a French officer.
Until the twentieth century, these letters were attributed to Mariana Alcoforado (1640-1723), a young nun from a Portuguese convent, who was supposed to write to her French lover, the Marquis de Chamilly, who had come to Portugal to fight with the Portuguese who struggled for their independence against Spain. (Louis XIV era)
A majority of scholars believe that the letters were written by Count Gabriel de Guilleragues (1628-1685) and are therefore a work of fiction.
But, romanticism not being dead,
In 2006, Myriam Cyr defends the thesis of the attribution to Mariana Alcoforado, the Portuguese nun.
In 2009, Philippe Sollers is convinced of the letters authenticity: "There is still controversy over the origins and authenticity of this unilateral correspondence. I believe thiese letters are authentic, because no man (and certainly not the ordinary Guilleragues) could have gone so far in the description of feminine love madness.
Personally, whether the Portuguese nun wrote these letters or a woman that Guilleragues would have known, I am convinced that a man could not have written these letters: they reveal too much the woman soul and ... did men ever really understand who women were? 😉
In her letters, Mariana, the Portuguese nun, complains to her lover about his abandonment. She reveals her passion, her doubts, her anger against the man who seduced her and then abandoned and forgot her. But what I liked the most, except the writing and the beautiful phrases that one finds there, the tenderness, the love, it is this incredible unconscious psychological self-analysis.
"How can it be that memories of such pleasant moments have become so cruel? And must they, against their nature, be useful only to tyrannize my heart? "
"Farewell, I cannot leave this paper, it will fall into your hands, I would like to have the same happiness."
"We are much happier and we feel something much more touching, when we love violently than when we are loved."
Subtle guilt cleverly spread:
"Couldn’t you take me to France? But I do not deserve it; do whatever you please."
"However, I do not repent of having worshiped you, I am very glad that you have seduced me; your rigorous, and perhaps eternal absence in no way diminishes the passion of my love: I want everyone to know it, I do not make it a mystery, and I am delighted to have done all that I have done for you against all kinds of propriety."
Many centuries have passed and women and men remain the same: their hearts are powerful but fragile, their desires may be beautiful and/or vile, their souls great and/or base. The costumes change, but Men remain sublime animals when they rise, or monstrous when their weak instincts take over.
Many centuries have passed and many women are still not free to move, to love, to exist.
Link towards Goodreads