The Empress as Writer
CATHERINE WAS AN ACTIVE WRITER for about a quarter of a century, and an extremely prolific one, too, more prolific than Frederick II, whom she regarded as her competitor as “philosopher on the throne” and writer-monarch. In that competition she undoubtedly had the advantage, both because, unlike Frederick, she did her writing herself, in the main without substantial outside help, and because she wrote mostly in the language of her subjects, whereas the Prussian king, a native-born German, had nothing but contempt for German culture and the German language, and wrote in French. In her lifetime Catherine covered literally reams of paper with her writing. As a matter of fact, she referred to her writing mania herself, not without a touch of boastful coquetry.
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