‘Gallant Dialogue’ in Catherine’s II Memoirs


  • Tatiana Akimova




This article analyses ‘gallant dialogue’ in the memoirs of Catherine II as a special narrative strategy employed by the empress to represent herself as an enlightened monarch and make an impact on the reader. In the French literature and art of the 17th and 18th centuries, the notion of ‘gallant dialogue’ was developed by scholars like A. Viala, D. Denis, and C. Cazanave. It was not only understood as a special type of aesthetics, poetics, or stylistics, but also as a means to construct images of the writer and reader. Due to the fact that Catherine II’s memoirs are different from all her other works (as she was writing them for herself), it is mostly herself that she addresses in the ‘gallant dialogue’. Consequently, the memoirs’ narrative acquires a dual character, having features of both the theatrical and novel chronotope. The theatrical chronotope is characterised by a three-part vertical arrangement of the images in the narrative. The reason for such a hierarchy is the norms of gallantry and ethics of behaviour at the court, the so-called ‘science of love’. In its turn, the novel chronotope is represented by a gradual personal development of the heroine as she learns how to live peacefully with her palace family and laugh merrily at the absurdities of life and rise above them.


Cazanave, C. (2007). Le dialogue à l’âge classique. Étude de la littérature dialogique en France au XVIIe siècle [Dialogue in the Classical Age. A Study of Dialogic Literature in 17th Century France]. 632 p. Paris, Champion.
Denis, D. (2001). Le Parnasse Galant. Institution d’une catégorie littéraire au XVIIe siècle [The Parnasse Galant. The Establishment of a Literary Category in the 17th Century]. 400 p. Paris, Honoré Champion.
Fateeva, A. V. (2007). “Memoires” Ekaterinyi II v kontekste epohi Prosvescheniya (kontsept “Filosof na trone”), avtoref. dis. ... kand. filol. nauk [Catherine II’s Memoires in the Context of the Age of Enlightenment (The ‘Philosopher on the Throne’ Concept), PhD Thesis Abstract]. 17 p. Moscow, MPGU.
Grechanaya, E. P. (2010). Kogda Rossiya govorila po-frantsuzski: russkaya literature na frantsuzskom yazyike (XVIII – pervaya polovina XIX veka) [When Russia Spoke French: Russian Literature in French (18th – First Half of the 19th Century)]. 383 p. Moscow, IMLI RAN.
Imperatrica Ekaterina II, Cesarevich Pavel Petrovich i Velikaya knyaginya Mariya Fedorovna. Pis’ma, zametki i vypiski 1782–1796 [Empress Catherine II, Crown Prince Pavel Petrovich and Grand duchess Maria Fiodorovna. Letters, notes and extracts. 1782–1796]. (1894). 214 p. St Petersburg, Tipografija V. S. Balasheva.
Ekaterina II. Zapiski imperatritsyi Ekaterinyi II. Reprintnoe vosproizvedenie [Notes of Empress Catherine II. Reprint]. (1990). 288 p. Moscow, Nauka.
Ivanov, O. A. (2007). Ekaterina II i Petr III. Istoriya tragicheskogo konflikta [Catherine II and Peter III. The Story of the Tragic Conflict]. 735 p. Moscow, Tsentrpoligraf.
Kryuchkova, M. A. (2009). Memuaryi Ekaterinyi II i ih vremya [Catherine II’s Memoirs and Their Times]. 464 p. Moscow, [S. n.].
Loran, A. (2010). Margarita de Valua i ee “Memuaryi” [Margarita de Valois and Her Memoirs]. In Margarita de Valua. Memuaryi. Dokumentyi. St Petersburg, Izbrannyie pisma, Evraziya, pp. 232–272.
Pahsaryan, N. T. (2010). Galantnost [Gallantry]. In Evropeyskaya poetika ot antichnosti do epohi Prosvescheniya. 317 p. Moscow, Izdatelstvo Kulaginoy.
Pavlova, S. Yu. (2012). Dve modeli galantnosti v “Memuarah” Byussi-Rabotena [Two Models of Gallantry in Bussy-Rabutin’s Memoirs]. In Izvestija Saratovskogo universiteta. Ser. Filologiya. Zhurnalistika. Vol. 12, Iss. 4, pp. 40–46.
Prikazchikova, E. E. (2009). Kulturnyie mifyi v russkoy literature vtoroy polovinyi XVIII–nachala XIX veka [Cultural Myths in the Russian Literature of the Second Half of the 18th – Early 19th Centuries]. 528 p. Yekaterinburg, Izdatelstvo Ural. un-ta.
Razumovskaya, M. V. (2008). Fontenel’ [Fontenel]. In Russko-evropejskie literaturnye svyazi. St Petersburg, Fakul’tet filologii i iskusstv SPbGU, pp. 233–234.
Savkina, I. (2007) Razgovoryi s zerkalom i zazerkalem : Avtodokumentalnyie zhenskie tekstyi v russkoy literature pervoy polovinyi XIX veka [Talks with a Mirror and the World behind the Looking-glass: Auto-documentary Female Texts in the Russian Literature of the First Half of the 19th Century]. 440 p. Moscow, Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie.
Vacheva, A. (2001). Klassitsisticheskiy diskurs v memuarah Ekaterinyi Vtoroy [Classical Discourse in Catherine II’s Memoirs]. In Vzaimodeystvie literatur v mirovom literaturnom protsesse. Problemyi teoreticheskoy i istoricheskoy poetiki. Grodno, Izdatelstvo Grodnenskogo universiteta, pp. 114‒120.
Vacheva, A. (2005). Romannyie prostranstva v memuarah Ekaterinyi II [Novel Spaces in Catherine II’s Memoirs]. In Vzaimodeystvie literatur v mirovom literaturnom protsesse. Problemyi teoreticheskoy i istoricheskoy poetiki. Grodno, Izdatelstvo Grodnenskogo universiteta, pp. 336‒341.
Vacheva, A. (2010). “«Zhizn i mneniya Tristrama Shendi, dzhentlmena” L. Sterna i “Zapiski” Ekaterinyi II [The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by L. Sterne and Catherine II’s Notes]. In Hudozhestvennyiy perevod i sravnitelnoe izuchenie kultur: Pamyati Yu. D. Levina. St Petersburg, Nauka, pp. 198‒212.
Vatcheva, A. (2002). Les Memoires de Catherine la Grande: entre feminite et masculinite narratives. In S. van Dijk en M. van Strien-Chardonneau (Eds.). Feminites et masculinities dans le texte narratif avant 1800. La question du ‘gender’ Louvain/Paris, Peeters, pp. 73–86.
Vacheva, A. (2008). Roman’t na imperatritsata. Romanoviyat diskurs v avtobiografichnite zapiski na Ekaterina II. Rakursi na chetene prez XIX vek [The Empress’s novel. The Romanov Discourse in the Autobiographical Notes of Catherine II. Reading Councils in the 19th Century]. 364 p. Sofia, Universitetsko izdatelstvo “Sv. Kliment Ohridski”.
Volle, K., Grechanaya, E. P. (2006). Dnevnik v Rossii v kontse XVIII – pervoy polovine XIX v. kak avtobiograficheskaya praktika [The Diary in Russia in the Late 18th – First Half of the 19th Centuries as Autobiographical Practice]. In Avtobiograficheskaya praktika v Rossii i vo Frantsii. Moscow, IMLI RAN, pp. 57–111.
Viala, A. (2008). La France galante. 540 р. Paris, PUF.



How to Cite

Akimova, T. (2017). ‘Gallant Dialogue’ in Catherine’s II Memoirs. Quaestio Rossica, 5(2), 426–435. https://doi.org/10.15826/qr.2017.2.234



Problema voluminis