Je doute que toute la philosophie du monde parvienne un jour à abolir l'esclavage; on en changera tout au plus le nom.
"Mémoires d'Hadrien"/"Memoirs of Hadrian"
I doubt that all the philosophy of the world manages one day to abolish slavery; at most its name will be changed.
Marguerite Yourcenar was the pseudonym of French novelist Marguerite Cleenewerck de Crayencour (June 8.th 1903 - December 17.th 1987).
Yourcenar was born in Brussels, Belgium, and educated privately to a prodigious standard at her father's estate in northern France. Her mother died ten days after Marguerite was born due to complications.
Yourcenar read Racine and Aristophanes by the age of eight and her father taught her Latin at ten, and Greek at twelve.
Her first novel "Alexis, ou le traité du vain combat" was published in 1929. Her intimate companion at the time, a translator named Grace Frick, invited her to America, where she lectured in comparative literature in New York City. She and Frick became intimate friends/lovers in 1937, and would remain so until Frick's death in 1979.
In 1951 she published, in France, the French-language novel "Mémoires d'Hadrien" (translated as "Memoirs of Hadrian"), which she had been writing with pauses for a decade. The novel was an immediate success and met with great critical acclaim.
In this novel Yourcenar recreated the life and death of one of the great rulers of the ancient world, the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who writes a long letter to Marcus Aurelius, his successor and adoptive son.
The Emperor meditates on his past, describing his triumphs, his love for Antinous, and his philosophy.
This novel has become a modern classic, a standard against which fictional recreations of Antiquity are measured.
Yourcenar was elected as the first female member of the Académie Française, in 1980. One of the respected writers in French language, she published many novels, essays, poetry, and three volumes of memoirs.
She lived much of her life at Petite Plaisance in Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine, USA.
Petite Plaisance is now a museum dedicated to Yourcenar's memory.
There's just no way for me to tell you how immensely beautiful the words she has put in Hadrian's mouth are… You'll have to judge for yourselves, believe me!