The Marquise de la Pivardiere

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The Marquise de la Pivardiere is a short story by ETA Hoffmann that appeared in Leipzig in the early autumn of 1820.

Franziska's love - that is the Marquise de la Pivardiere - for Silvain François Charost - that is her confessor, the Augustinian - chaplain Francis - is unhappy. Franziska finally goes to a monastery and Francis returns to his abbey at Miseray.


Around 1688 in France: The murder of the Marquis de la Pivardiere is the topic of conversation at one of the Paris soirees . One agrees. Only his wife and her confessor - the “wicked Charost” - come into question as perpetrators.

Flashback: Franziska Margarete Chauvelin, the only daughter of the wealthy knight Chauvelin, became an orphan at an early age. When her father also died, Franziska, who was still single, inherited the Nerbonne manor. Years earlier, only 16 years old, Franziska had loved a young man but lost sight of him. Almost three years after the death of her father, Franziska marries another, "the Marquis de la Pivardiere, who is persecuted by the creditors" and thus makes him "lord of the Nerbonne manor". The Marquis had previously won the trust of Francis.

The marquise gives birth to a daughter. Years later, the marquis is called to military service . After the confessor died at Nerbonne Castle, a chaplain took up his duties there. Shaken, Franziska recognizes in the new confessor that "unhappy Charost", the lover from her youth. The clergyman, on the other hand, accepts his "irrecoverable lost" love seemingly dispassionately. The two lovers, separated for more than twenty years, tell each other about their fates. At that time Charost had made a rendezvous in vain and therefore wrote Franziska a glowing letter. The letter never reached the recipient. Apparently it had been intercepted by the knight Chauvelin and answered negatively. Out of sheer lovesickness, Charost had given the poor world valet; withdrew behind monastery walls. Franziska recognizes in her father "the evil principle that cheated her out of her most beautiful happiness".

The Marquise is investigating, the Marquis, a childhood friend of Charost's, has since resigned and lives in Auxerre under a false name as Huissier with the innkeeper’s daughter Pillard. When the creditors are once again hard on the marquis's heels and he flees to Nerbonne, he is received in an unfriendly manner by the wife of the evening: he should go to Auxerre to see his “woozy whore”. However, the returnees had grown tired of the latter. At the height of the escalating marital argument, Franziska goes to her nine-year-old daughter's bedroom. The next morning the marquis cannot be found.

The Royal Procurator General of Chatillon sur Indre charges the Marquise with murder. The servants and even their own daughter testify against Franziska. Charost, who allegedly lived with the Marquise in "criminal circumstances", is also imprisoned with the consent of the episcopal vicar of Bourges . The rural population devastated the Nerbonne Castle. At the height of the trial against the two accused - Charost is about to be tortured - the Marquis de la Pivardiere appears in the courtroom. The judges consider the newcomer a false count . The Marquis is on the run again, this time in Auxerre accused of vows of marriage. The judiciary hesitates. Then Franziska and Charost have to be released.


Details can be found at Steinecke. 1734–1743 Pitaval had published his “Causes célèbres et intéressantes, avec les jugemens qui les ont décidées”, a collection of curious legal cases in twenty volumes. An arrangement by François Richer appeared in 1773–1792. Carl Wilhelm Franz published the latter in Jena from 1782 under the title “Odd and Strange Legal Cases”. The third part contains the “Story of Mr. de la Pivardiere”, which ETA Hoffmann probably used. However, Hoffmann is not concerned with Mr de la Pivardiere, but with his wife, the Marquise. So the author - trying to find a psychogram of this lady - invents her premarital life. The criminal case interested Hoffmann in the context less: "It would be tedious to all 'to mention the measures which now took the court to explore, far in as ...".


Before the narrator presents the events in chronological order, he leads the reader into the salon of the Duchesse d'Aiguillon. There the alleged murderers Franziska and Charost are severely condemned and the poor Marquis de la Pivardiere are deplored. When Franziska and Charost were innocent towards the end of the text, the Marquis was demonized in the same salon as a “great good-for-nothing”. The duchesse d'Aiguisseau wants to attract Franziska back into their circles in vain. The frame designed by ETA Hoffmann is faulty. He probably means the Duchesse d'Aiguillon.

The narrator is much smarter than his characters. After Franziska, for example, had a complete overview of Charost's fate and also learned of her husband's adultery in Auxerre, the authorial narrator comments : "The feeling of deepest pain, the most insulting bitterness that overwhelmed the Marquise when the disdained Charost appeared before her eyes, and that which first accused the father had turned more and more against the marquis. She looked at him for the one who had been destined to accomplish what the father had begun, namely to destroy her happiness in life. She forgot that it was only her own wrong mind that led her into the arms of the Marquis. "

The lawyer ETA Hoffmann lifts his forefinger: "Bonnet was (as no judge should be) passionate in the highest degree, full of prejudices, biased in every way and also at odds with the family of the Augustinian Charost."


Statements in the 19th century
  • In the " Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung " the text is viewed with a sniff as breadwork.
  • The reviewer in the “literary conversation sheet” ( Brockhaus , Leipzig) must have been deeply impressed.
  • Ellinger accuses the author of volatile working methods and points out deficiencies.
Recent comments
  • In 1983 Toggenburger spoke out in favor of the narrative - with reservations.
  • Achermann reads the story as a sequence of grave errors of Francis, caused by a false fatherly upbringing.


First edition

  • ETA Hoffmann: The Marquise de la Pivardiere (After Richer's Causes célèbres). P. 377–431 in: Pocket book on sociable pleasure for the year 1821, with Johann Friedrich Gleditsch in 1820 in Leipzig

Used edition

  • ETA Hoffmann: The Marquise de la Pivardiere (After Richer's Causes célèbres). P. 730–765 in: Hartmut Steinecke (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann: Night pieces. Little Zaches . Princess Brambilla . Works 1816–1820. German classic publisher in paperback. Vol. 36. Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-618-68036-9 (corresponds to: Vol. 3 in: Hartmut Steinecke (Ed.): "ETA Hoffmann: Complete Works in Seven Volumes", Frankfurt am Main 1985)

Secondary literature

  • Gerhard R. Kaiser: ETA Hoffmann. Metzler, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-476-10243-2 . (Metzler Collection; 243; realities on literature)
  • Eric Achermann: The Marquise de la Pivardiere (After Richer's Causes Célèbres) (1820). P. 231–236 in: Detlef Kremer (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann. Life - work - effect. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-11-018382-5

Individual evidence

  1. Steinecke, p. 1134, 6. Zvo
  2. ^ French abbey at Miseray
  3. Edition used, p. 740, 8. Zvo
  4. see Steinecke, p. 1138, footnote 740.7
  5. eng. Huissier
  6. Steinecke, p. 1134 under "Sources"
  7. ^ French Pitaval
  8. ^ French François Richer
  9. Edition used, p. 761, 14. Zvo
  10. see also Steinecke, p. 1139, footnote 764,36
  11. Edition used, p. 747, 7. Zvo
  12. Edition used, p. 763, 14. Zvo
  13. Steinecke, p. 1135, 10. Zvo
  14. quoted in Steinecke, p. 1135, 12. Zvo
  15. quoted in Kaiser (p. 9, entry "Ellinger"): Georg Ellinger: ETA Hoffmann. His life and his works. Hamburg 1894 (part II, p. 10)
  16. Steinecke, p. 1135, 10th Zvu
  17. cited in Kaiser (p. 11, 2. Zvu and p. 96, 20. Zvu): Hans Toggenburger: Die late Almanach-Erzählungen ETA Hoffmanns , Bern 1983
  18. Steinecke, p. 1135, 3rd Zvu
  19. ^ Achermann, p. 234, 4th Zvu
  20. Steinecke, p. 1133 middle under "Text tradition"

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