The Art of Gossip


No butt, no hips, flat-chested, big arms, even bigger feet, very small head, and a profusion of outfits and jewels, for she insists on being beautiful against the will of nature. She has published some works in geometry, and they say she had studied the subject so that she herself could understand what she writes. She talks about it the way Sganarelle speaks Latin — to those who do not speak any. Nobody really knows who she is, since even her defects are phony; but all these pretensions would not rend her famous, for she is famous; and she gets to be famous because she is a mistress of Voltaire. It is Voltaire who makes her the subject of all the conversations; and it is always to him that she will owe her fame, for the fame of Voltaire will outlast our century.

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2 Responses to The Art of Gossip

  1. for a woman in those exceedingly vain times, though, Émilie du Châtelet was an interesting figure…

    • I don’t know if this is jealousy or just the habit of back-biting, but I cannot but admire the skill with which Marquise Deffand mops the floor with Emily to put Voltaire on his pedestal.


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