Gabrielle is a character who underwent something of an overhaul between our printed version of the novel and our re-worked on-line version. There’s always a danger of falling into the trap of making female characters too passive, especially within a romantic arc, whereby they simply become vessels to attract an audience’s sympathy. The result, however, is generally not sympathy but boredom and in the printed version we felt there was a danger of straying into that territory. Characters should always have agency. However, one of the difficulties with a narrative set in the past is the challenge of remaining faithful to its historical context, and in eighteenth-century France the vast majority of women were indeed stripped of agency. Fathers, brothers, husbands, the State and the Church all were very much in control of a woman’s fate. With the Marquise d’Urfé we went pretty much off-piste but that wasn’t really an issue as the uber rich of any period, male or female, have always been able to defy social norms and shape their own destinies to a far greater degree than the rest of society. However, the position of a woman like Gabrielle, albeit privileged by the standards of most women of the time, was very different. To wilfully reject the expectations of society placed her in a very precarious position. It was this element of almost self-destructive recklessness, therefore, that we decided to bring out a bit more.
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 and 2 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.
6 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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