A Political Romance: Léon Gambetta, Léonie Léon and the Making of the French Republic, 1872-82

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Palgrave Macmillan, Mar 20, 2012 - History - 315 pages
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Léon Gambetta is remembered for his heroic deeds during the Franco-Prussian War and as a founder of the Third Republic. His image is that of a leader of men in the male political universe of late nineteenth-century France. Historians have largely ignored his intense relationship with his lover, Léonie Léon. This relationship was both personal and epistolary, their face-to-face meetings complemented by daily letters, of which some 1100 survive. Using this unpublished correspondence, A Political Romance offers a new perspective on Gambetta, focusing on his ten-year relationship with Léon. Their partnership was political as well as passionate. Gambetta sought counsel from his 'wise Minerva' and building the Republic became their joint project. The letters also reveal the weight of contemporary gender expectations on the couple's thinking and behaviour and the social conventions that excluded Léon from 'respectable' circles. Foley and Sowerwine use this fascinating correspondence to provide a richer portrait than Gambetta's previous biographers, introducing the unknown figure of Léon and producing a unique glimpse into the political and cultural world of 1870s Paris.

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About the author (2012)

SUSAN K. FOLEY is principal fellow in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her publications include Women in France since 1789: the Meanings of Difference, and Flora Tristan: Life Stories. CHARLES SOWERWINE is emeritus professor of History at the University of Melbourne,Australia, and adjunct professor of History at La Trobe University. His publications include France since 1870: Culture, Society and the Making of the Republic and Sisters orCitizens? Women and Socialism in France since 1876.

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