Hot Best Seller

The Memoirs of Catherine the Great (Modern Library Classics)

Availability: Ready to download

Empress Catherine II brought Europe to Russia, and Russia to Europe, during her long and eventful reign (1762—96). She fostered the culture of the Enlightenment and greatly expanded the immense empire created by Czar Ivan the Terrible, shifting the balance of power in Europe eastward. Famous for her will to power and for her dozen lovers, Catherine was also a prolific and Empress Catherine II brought Europe to Russia, and Russia to Europe, during her long and eventful reign (1762—96). She fostered the culture of the Enlightenment and greatly expanded the immense empire created by Czar Ivan the Terrible, shifting the balance of power in Europe eastward. Famous for her will to power and for her dozen lovers, Catherine was also a prolific and gifted writer. Fluent in French, Russian, and German, Catherine published political theory, journalism, comedies, operas, and history, while writing thousands of letters as she corresponded with Voltaire and other public figures. The Memoirs of Catherine the Great provides an unparalleled window into eighteenth-century Russia and the mind of an absolute ruler. With insight, humor, and candor, Catherine presents her eyewitness account of history, from her whirlwind entry into the Russian court in 1744 at age fourteen as the intended bride of Empress Elizabeth I’s nephew, the eccentric drunkard and future Peter III, to her unhappy marriage; from her two children, several miscarriages, and her and Peter’s numerous affairs to the political maneuvering that enabled Catherine to seize the throne from him in 1762. Catherine’s eye for telling details makes for compelling reading as she describes the dramatic fall and rise of her political fortunes. This definitive new translation from the French is scrupulously faithful to her words and is the first for which translators have consulted original manuscripts written in Catherine’s own hand. It is an indispensable work for anyone interested in Catherine the Great, Russian history, or the eighteenth century. From the Hardcover edition.


Compare

Empress Catherine II brought Europe to Russia, and Russia to Europe, during her long and eventful reign (1762—96). She fostered the culture of the Enlightenment and greatly expanded the immense empire created by Czar Ivan the Terrible, shifting the balance of power in Europe eastward. Famous for her will to power and for her dozen lovers, Catherine was also a prolific and Empress Catherine II brought Europe to Russia, and Russia to Europe, during her long and eventful reign (1762—96). She fostered the culture of the Enlightenment and greatly expanded the immense empire created by Czar Ivan the Terrible, shifting the balance of power in Europe eastward. Famous for her will to power and for her dozen lovers, Catherine was also a prolific and gifted writer. Fluent in French, Russian, and German, Catherine published political theory, journalism, comedies, operas, and history, while writing thousands of letters as she corresponded with Voltaire and other public figures. The Memoirs of Catherine the Great provides an unparalleled window into eighteenth-century Russia and the mind of an absolute ruler. With insight, humor, and candor, Catherine presents her eyewitness account of history, from her whirlwind entry into the Russian court in 1744 at age fourteen as the intended bride of Empress Elizabeth I’s nephew, the eccentric drunkard and future Peter III, to her unhappy marriage; from her two children, several miscarriages, and her and Peter’s numerous affairs to the political maneuvering that enabled Catherine to seize the throne from him in 1762. Catherine’s eye for telling details makes for compelling reading as she describes the dramatic fall and rise of her political fortunes. This definitive new translation from the French is scrupulously faithful to her words and is the first for which translators have consulted original manuscripts written in Catherine’s own hand. It is an indispensable work for anyone interested in Catherine the Great, Russian history, or the eighteenth century. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for The Memoirs of Catherine the Great (Modern Library Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elysium

    Book covers years 1728 thru 1759. I think it was pretty dry and book really doesn't need prologue of 100 pages. Book covers years 1728 thru 1759. I think it was pretty dry and book really doesn't need prologue of 100 pages.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I used to admire Catherine the Great, Russia's first (and only) Tsarina. The strong women who fought the Ottomans and gained more territory for Russia. The brave woman who brought the Enlightenment to Russia. The attractive woman who radically used her sex to influence politics. In her memoirs, SHE IS SO ANNOYING. She was the only female Tsarina of Russia, and all she writes about is crying over something her mom did or a servant the Empress sent away. She described her what she had for dinner a I used to admire Catherine the Great, Russia's first (and only) Tsarina. The strong women who fought the Ottomans and gained more territory for Russia. The brave woman who brought the Enlightenment to Russia. The attractive woman who radically used her sex to influence politics. In her memoirs, SHE IS SO ANNOYING. She was the only female Tsarina of Russia, and all she writes about is crying over something her mom did or a servant the Empress sent away. She described her what she had for dinner and what she wore to the masquarade more than anything political or even somewhat relevant to history. I am sorry, Catherine, but I do not care about how your face broke out in pimples or how to cure sunburn. This was such a waste of my time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Smiley

    Reading this interesting memoir, I think, was a bit tough due to its length and innumerable important persons involved as narrated in her account; therefore, this extract should suffice to those keen future readers: … Begun nine years after her accession, this is the apologia for her course of action leading to the coup d’etat in 1762 and the deposition of her husband. Her account contains the intimate revelations of a woman of astonishing complexity; a woman whose ruthless schemes for Russian wo Reading this interesting memoir, I think, was a bit tough due to its length and innumerable important persons involved as narrated in her account; therefore, this extract should suffice to those keen future readers: … Begun nine years after her accession, this is the apologia for her course of action leading to the coup d’etat in 1762 and the deposition of her husband. Her account contains the intimate revelations of a woman of astonishing complexity; a woman whose ruthless schemes for Russian world leadership; a woman intellectually conscious of the nature of her moral lapses, yet emotionally incapable of resisting temptation. (Front flap)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Priyanka

    Memoirs by Catherine the Great about her life experiences from the time she first arrived at Russia til she became the empress.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Godfrey

    A wonderful memoir! It is a truly honest work by a no holds barred woman. This work gives fine detail about court life in 18th-century Russia. Although Catherine was constantly surrounded by people at court, she often remarked about being bored and lonely (it didn't help that she had a childish and cruel husband who was a complete maniac) and usually kept to herself by reading and walking around in the garden. I was really surprised by how much the royal family moved around. They had summer and A wonderful memoir! It is a truly honest work by a no holds barred woman. This work gives fine detail about court life in 18th-century Russia. Although Catherine was constantly surrounded by people at court, she often remarked about being bored and lonely (it didn't help that she had a childish and cruel husband who was a complete maniac) and usually kept to herself by reading and walking around in the garden. I was really surprised by how much the royal family moved around. They had summer and winter palaces and were always on the move. I was also surprised by how many masquerades, balls, ballets, and plays they went to. Sometimes, they had masquerades almost every night. Didn't these people have anything better to do? Overall, this was a great read except for the long prologue, the large cast of characters from the court, and the abrupt ending. I wish the ending was better, but maybe she never finished that part of her memoirs or maybe that section was lost. I didn't like how it left you hanging - it was as if it ended in mid-sentence.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    This was another of the books that I tried to read, didn't have a real objection to, but just couldn't get in to it. Not all books can captivate every reader, so I think it is one you shouldn't discard if you are interested in the Russian royalty. It just wasn't one that grabbed me. This was another of the books that I tried to read, didn't have a real objection to, but just couldn't get in to it. Not all books can captivate every reader, so I think it is one you shouldn't discard if you are interested in the Russian royalty. It just wasn't one that grabbed me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    What a woman! Catherine the Great had an amazingly difficult life since her arrival in Russia, even if it could've seemed easy and luxurious. How many sacrifices she had to make to became the Great Empress: her marriage with Peter III, immature cruel beast, her life apart from her mother, because the latter was not welcome in the kingdom, her separation for 40 days with her first infant. All the people who watched her every move to report it afterwards to Empress Elizabeth and all those intrigue What a woman! Catherine the Great had an amazingly difficult life since her arrival in Russia, even if it could've seemed easy and luxurious. How many sacrifices she had to make to became the Great Empress: her marriage with Peter III, immature cruel beast, her life apart from her mother, because the latter was not welcome in the kingdom, her separation for 40 days with her first infant. All the people who watched her every move to report it afterwards to Empress Elizabeth and all those intrigues.. Overall, it is a very interesting read and I highly recommend it to everyone!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katherine B.

    Catherine the Great will forever be my queen.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Swanger

    Very different than the cyclopedic entries on this empress' life! We read of Paul III and yet the stunning details of his spousal removal are not included; a gossip magazine once said that Catherine assembled numerous lovers and ruled, though most of us can do only one of those things. Romantic impressions from Hollywood's THE SCARLET EMPRESS with Marlene Dietrich sum up our appreciations of Catherine, despite her real life as lived and seen by us here; we read of mother-in-law unpleasant masque Very different than the cyclopedic entries on this empress' life! We read of Paul III and yet the stunning details of his spousal removal are not included; a gossip magazine once said that Catherine assembled numerous lovers and ruled, though most of us can do only one of those things. Romantic impressions from Hollywood's THE SCARLET EMPRESS with Marlene Dietrich sum up our appreciations of Catherine, despite her real life as lived and seen by us here; we read of mother-in-law unpleasant masquerades whereby male courtiers would have to don cheesecloth and ladies trouser roles; we read of manifold court figures, and of predecessor Empress Elisabeth, the wisest and best Empress of Russia, according to a still-extant bronze cast bell inscription from the Kremlin. Unfortunately German Pomerania of Catherine's hometown principality Stettin is since 1945 German-expelled and Polish-administered with German Silesia and German East Prussia. But Catherine's separate Partition of Poland would make Poland as Austrian-German Prussian-Russian by an undying Three Emperors' League of the Three Northern Courts and the Holy Alliance of later treaties. Though as here presented, Catherine was an unusual bluestocking (a woman writer), she is one of the Greats. Her Imperial Majesty's goals included overturning the Ottoman Empire and bringing back the Glory That Was Greece, though Her Imperial Majesty passed away before that could take place and seemingly only saw herself as something like a schoolteacher from these pages.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Danine

    Though I enjoyed reading this memoir it took me a very long time to finish. The end of the memoir was pretty dry. The book covers the years of 1728 thru 1759. I'm drawn to the life of Catherine the Great as I can relate to much of her life. She was cynical and sincere. "A Humanitarian and an enlightened ruler but ruthless." She believed that "human reason, common sense and tolerance could combat ignorance, tyranny and superstition to build an an enlightened better world." A graphomaniac who enjo Though I enjoyed reading this memoir it took me a very long time to finish. The end of the memoir was pretty dry. The book covers the years of 1728 thru 1759. I'm drawn to the life of Catherine the Great as I can relate to much of her life. She was cynical and sincere. "A Humanitarian and an enlightened ruler but ruthless." She believed that "human reason, common sense and tolerance could combat ignorance, tyranny and superstition to build an an enlightened better world." A graphomaniac who enjoyed philosophy and believed in freedom of the serfs, a strong structured economy and education. It saddened me to read about how her children were taken away from her at birth and she was not allowed to see them for several weeks after their births and for only a short time. I cannot imagine the loneliness of a loveless marriage and an Empress who forbids you to see your own children. Peter III was a twit and puss. I can't imagine being married to such an immature dimwit. To know that he would eventually killed by Scarface didn't bother me one bit. Go big Cath! I will be looking into reading her personal letters. I wish she would have continued to write a memoir throughout her colorful and political life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    "The Memoirs of Catherine the Great", edited by Dominique Maroger. 1961. Peter the Great set the stage that allowed for a string of powerful women to dominate 18th century Russia. Catherine, along with her predecessors, through art, architecture and fashion, bequeathed Russia with unique sense of style, a kind of femininity that had not before existed. But more than simply leaving Russia with great beauty, Catherine expanded her country's borders and dramatically strengthened her armies forcing "The Memoirs of Catherine the Great", edited by Dominique Maroger. 1961. Peter the Great set the stage that allowed for a string of powerful women to dominate 18th century Russia. Catherine, along with her predecessors, through art, architecture and fashion, bequeathed Russia with unique sense of style, a kind of femininity that had not before existed. But more than simply leaving Russia with great beauty, Catherine expanded her country's borders and dramatically strengthened her armies forcing Western Europe to acknowledge Russia as a world power. Catherine's writing is intimate, honest and not written for public consumption. Unfortunately it ends all to short, in mid-sentence, just at the point before she seizes the throne. After reading her memoir, I feel as though a know Catherine. I feel as though I would have liked her.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Skylar Hatfield

    This book illustrates the characteristics required of an empress, wisdom, grace, beauty, intelligence, loyalty, honesty, wit, patience, intuition, etc. The funny part of this book is that Catherine is described as having all these characteristics by...Catherine. I gave this book only a three star rating, because I found it difficult to keep up with all the characters and plots within plots detailed in this memoir. Also, this memoir ends abruptly at in integral point in Catherine's life. Therefor This book illustrates the characteristics required of an empress, wisdom, grace, beauty, intelligence, loyalty, honesty, wit, patience, intuition, etc. The funny part of this book is that Catherine is described as having all these characteristics by...Catherine. I gave this book only a three star rating, because I found it difficult to keep up with all the characters and plots within plots detailed in this memoir. Also, this memoir ends abruptly at in integral point in Catherine's life. Therefor, I am going to have to buy a biography of Catherine the Great to discover how it was that she came to reign and how she maintained her throne.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    I read this right after a trip to Moscow, so I found it fascinating. If you just happened across it and didn't have Russian on the brain, maybe not. A warning--this was a memoir written for future publication, not a diary, so it was really Catherine's attempt to vindicate herself and doesn't go into much seamy detail. And it doesn't cover her reign at all, just the years from her marriage until right before her reign. But it was a good read for anyone wanting to know about the workings of the Ru I read this right after a trip to Moscow, so I found it fascinating. If you just happened across it and didn't have Russian on the brain, maybe not. A warning--this was a memoir written for future publication, not a diary, so it was really Catherine's attempt to vindicate herself and doesn't go into much seamy detail. And it doesn't cover her reign at all, just the years from her marriage until right before her reign. But it was a good read for anyone wanting to know about the workings of the Russian court of that time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Velia

    I liked this memoir. It was well written, but it wasn't what I was expecting. Maybe I've just heard too much of the salacious gossipy stuff about Catherine. I think I should have read a biography about her first and then made the attempt to read this memoir of hers. She ended this memoir sooner than I thought she would. She didn't even touch on her time as Empress. I feel like some essential pieces have been left out of the story, so I can’t really write a decent review. I will be reading her bi I liked this memoir. It was well written, but it wasn't what I was expecting. Maybe I've just heard too much of the salacious gossipy stuff about Catherine. I think I should have read a biography about her first and then made the attempt to read this memoir of hers. She ended this memoir sooner than I thought she would. She didn't even touch on her time as Empress. I feel like some essential pieces have been left out of the story, so I can’t really write a decent review. I will be reading her biography soon.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather Blumentritt

    This was an very good portrayal of one of history's greatest leaders, Catherine the Great. Robert Massie was able to give a more personal look into Catherine's life via letters from friends and loved ones. Though Madariaga's biography was more concise, I liked this book better because it afforded me the opportunity to "see" what it was like to live in Catherine's 1700s. Massies' book really delved into Catherine's love life which always seemed related to her political life. All in all, a great b This was an very good portrayal of one of history's greatest leaders, Catherine the Great. Robert Massie was able to give a more personal look into Catherine's life via letters from friends and loved ones. Though Madariaga's biography was more concise, I liked this book better because it afforded me the opportunity to "see" what it was like to live in Catherine's 1700s. Massies' book really delved into Catherine's love life which always seemed related to her political life. All in all, a great book -even for those not excited by historical fiction.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Graeme

    This edition is highly annotated and highly interesting. I am probably a little biased since the translator and annotator taught my university course in which this book was discussed, but I had read great things about this edition before I heard of the professor. The annotations are extremely helpful in understanding the aristocratic environment surrounding Catherine and helpful for the Russian cultural neophyte. Catherine had a brilliant mind and it shows in her clever memoirs.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eve

    Difficult to get through. I got about 3/4 of the way through and could not make another page. Interesting topic and the first half seemed to flow much better than the 2nd. I wanted to make it to the end, but it just got so brutally boring I stopped caring. I agree with some of the other posts I read, who wants to read page after page of whining or here some of the same details referenced again and again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Love it! She's such a facinating person to me and her perspective on things is also interesting. She might have been the Empress of all Russia but she was actually German. I just LOVE that she wrote this herself nearly 300 years ago! Love it! She's such a facinating person to me and her perspective on things is also interesting. She might have been the Empress of all Russia but she was actually German. I just LOVE that she wrote this herself nearly 300 years ago!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    A little to dry for me.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    It's really good so far It's really good so far

  21. 5 out of 5

    Polly

    Fantastic. Very easy to read, once you get by all the Russian names. Also, there is a table of ranks and orders at the back that I suggest reading first.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    There is no end to my love for Catherine the Great. I got a lot out of this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Breeze

    Fell in love with Catherine....like reading letters from a good friend. She felt very close.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ghislaine

    Very nice to refer to this book when reading Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massey.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Zero vi Britannia

    Guess who just bought this from his Library's Book sale for one dollar! Guess who just bought this from his Library's Book sale for one dollar!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    Fascinating. Even during her teenage years, it was obvious that this lady was a born survivor, possessed of an enormous level of political acumen.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lab Lover

    Russian history is a complex and fascinating tale!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jen Miller

    Disappointing. Sometimes I had no idea what was going on. Hardly enough to begin to know Catherine The Great.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Clare Sullivan

    Quite fascinating insight into this woman. Now want to read the Romanovs

  30. 5 out of 5

    Oren

    A real gem. Only covers her early marriage to the Grand Duke. She's an evocative writer. The games these ppl play are very serious. And while they are royalty, in a way they are the biggest slaves to the system and thus the Emperor/Empress bc they believe in it most. Highlights were the Grand Duke's hijinks, I think. (He'll get assassinated later for his pro-Prussian leanings.) So he's a kind of tragic figure but he's such a typical, entitled brat. I'm pretty sure this was published bc it gives A real gem. Only covers her early marriage to the Grand Duke. She's an evocative writer. The games these ppl play are very serious. And while they are royalty, in a way they are the biggest slaves to the system and thus the Emperor/Empress bc they believe in it most. Highlights were the Grand Duke's hijinks, I think. (He'll get assassinated later for his pro-Prussian leanings.) So he's a kind of tragic figure but he's such a typical, entitled brat. I'm pretty sure this was published bc it gives her rationale or justification for turning her back on the Grand Duke. The memoir builds up to the showdown they have in front of the Empress, with her closest advisors hidden within earshot behind screens. (Catherine was shrewd enough to divine.)

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...