Essay topics: Toward the end of his life, the Chevalier de Seingalt (1725-1798) wrote a long memoir recounting his life and adventures. The Chevalier was a somewhat controversial figure, but since he met many famous people, including kings and writers, his memoir has become a valuable historical source about European society in the eighteenth century. However, some critics have raised doubts about the accuracy of the memoir. They claim that the Chevalier distorted or invented many events in the memoir to make his life seem more exciting and glamorous than it really was.
For example, in his memoir the Chevalier claims that while living in Switzerland, he was very wealthy, and it is known that he spent a great deal of money there on parties and gambling. However, evidence has recently surfaced that the Chevalier borrowed considerable sums of money from a Swiss merchant. Critics thus argue that if the Chevalier had really been very rich, he would not have needed to borrow money.
Critics are also skeptical about the accuracy of the conversations that the Chevalier records in the memoir between himself and the famous writer Voltaire. No one doubts that the Chevalier and Voltaire met and conversed. However, critics complain that the memoir cannot possibly capture these conversations accurately, because it was written many years after the conversations occurred. Critics point out that it is impossible to remember exact phrases from extended conversations held many years earlier.
Critics have also questioned the memoir’s account of the Chevalier’s escape from a notorious prison in Venice, Italy. He claims to have escaped the Venetian prison by using a piece of metal to make a hole in the ceiling and climbing through the roof. Critics claim that while such a daring escape makes for enjoyable reading, it is more likely that the Chevaliers jailers were bribed to free him. They point out that the Chevalier had a number of politically well-connected friends in Venice who could have offered a bribe.
Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they cast doubt on specific points made in the reading passage.
The passage is about a memoir written by Chevalier de Seingalt where the writer states about the critics' claim that this memoir distorted original event to make chevalier's life seem more exciting and glamorous. The passage presents three such incidents to support its claim. The lecturer, however, rebuts these claims by stating that this memoir was quite accurate and reliable source of history.
Firstly, the passage clamied that, if Chevalier was as wealthy he claimed to be, then he did not need to borrow from the Swiss merchants. The lecturer, in contrast, explains the reason of borrowing. Chevalier spent a lot of money on parites and gambles. So he required a lot of money but the type of wealth he had like properties and such, needed time to convert to cash. In the mean time, he borrowed money to keep going. So, borrowing money doesn't refute the claim about him being very wealthy.
Secondly, the writer in the passage states that the critics cast doubt about the accuracy of the details of conversation between Chevalier and Votaire in the memoir as it was written many years after the convesations took place. The lecturer, in the lecture, defended this by stating that Chevalier kept note and tried to wite down everything he could remember after his conversation with Voltaire every night. In addition, witnesses had confirmed that while writing his memoir Chevalier consulted with his notes very often. This way an accurate depiction of the convesation could be presented by Chevalier.
Finally, the writer points out that, critics think Chevalier's escape from prison in venice is also a fabrication and that it was more likely that he was helped by his politically well-connected friends to bribe the jailers to free him. The lecturer, however, pointed out that it might not be the case as there were many other prisoners there who had more powerful friends but could not escape. In addition, she mentioned about a government documents brought to light that, after Chevalier's escape from that prison, the room above the Chevalier's room needed to be repaired. This supports the claim made in the memoir by Chevalier.
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