Year: 2005 ISBN: 978-90-429-1646-3 Pages: VI-338 p. Price: 45 EURO
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This book is the result of patient research in eighteenth-century family archives. Particularly those of Belle de Zuylen's contemporaries likely to have met her. Just over twenty years after the publication of her «Oeuvres complètes» and the subsequent biographies by Pierre and Simone Dubois and Cecil P. Courtney, this book offers much new material and places her early work in the context of that of her friends.
Being in touch with other people was essential for Belle de Zuylen, whose correspondence now also includes two letters when she was seventeen and desperately in love. Among the new poems there is a fable written after a quarrel with friends, whose views on the matter are also published. Another important poem is Belle's long and witty 'epistle' in answer to complimentary verses by the editor of the journal that printed her story «Le Noble». One of the many reactions by friends to this partly autobiographical tale in which Julie d'Arnonville elopes with a man her father does not approve of, came from an offended 'marquis d'Arnonville', who enclosed a lengthy comment on the story.
Most of the material was found among the papers of Baron Gijsbert Jan van Hardenbroek, a colleague of Belle's father in the provincial administration. From his letters and memorandums it appears that for many years he was in love with Belle. When he finally asked her to marry him, she had already decided to leave Holland, where she had long known she would never be happy.