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Opinion: Colette’s life is fascinating but I’m not so sure about the writing style. It feels more like a collection of disconnected anecdotes than a coherent narration. I enjoyed it a lot but that made it a bit hard to read for long (the first few days I couldn’t stop and then it got harder to get through). I unfortunately lost the quotes from the first half, or maybe not so unfortunately, I get the feeling I’d have never finishing copying them otherwise.


“You carry your [happiness] with a kind of pride,” Annie tells Claudine, “a sort of secret superiority; one can hear that you’re thinking. ‘My happiness or sadness or my sensual pleasure and my  love - they’re finally better than and different from those of others.’

The pleasures of ‘the ego in consonance with nature’ are more important to Colette than the pleasure that might be provided by another person.

Colette actually suffered more than most people from a French malaise for which there is no precise translation: dépaysment. Her sense of self didn’t travel. She always did her best writing en pays connu. And after her first few days in Rome, she confesses to feeling “the unease of being nothing more than a Frenchwoman detached from France.”

PP. 266 (extract from “Impressions d’Italie”)

Colette observed that “physical pleasure could overcome even the worst grief, and to prove her point, she immediately took Germaine to Prunier’s and ordered ad dish of prawns.”
“That’s how we’ll all end, the dead mustn’t depress the living!”… “fears neither sin nor death.”
But Colette’s disgust for mortal frailty, and her response to it – eat and thrive – is a symptom of her intolerable anxiety about all forms of hunger. She utterly abhors a vacuum, and her famous insatiability is proportional to her exaggerated terror of any vital insufficiency – of love, nourishment, or money.

She saw human beings through a loupe that enlarged, distorted, and… idealized the, carried away by the heat of her own temperament and the need to transform everything into literature.” Renaud de Jouvenel.
PP 292

An unusual capacity for transgression in a conscientious personality seems to be prerequisite for those who, like Bertrand de Jouvenel, achieve some form of greatness.”… He was a faux faible (a false weakling). All his women were, in fact, dragons. He always gave the impression of capitulating. In fact, he did just as he pleased.
PP 298.

Pichois makes the point that she needed such reassurances because a “real writer is always in search of her identity” and can never be sure of her “true path.” PP 301

 Literature offers writers, as motherhood offers women, a similar opportunity: to recover and repair the manques – the lacks of deficiencies – of their childhood by creating an experience of wholeness for their readers or their children, and ultimately for themselves. PP 312


Her dream of flying is a metaphor for an impossible, lost state of autonomy in which there are no bonds of need, rage, guilt, or dependence and no yearnings that shacked one creature to another: two lovers of whatever age or sex, the tamed beast and its master, parent and child. In the implacably tragic view of life Colette sets forth in these essays [Aventures quotidiennes], and so gallantly dissembles by the intoxicating beauty of her prose – as he dissembles it in her life by her Olympian vitality – love is the Fall. -->the lose of the Self. PP 312

The discipline of work sharpens the savor of pleasure. PP 385.

Today one understands -- finally! -- that there are no truly lazy individuals. There are only mad perfectionists who wait, paralized and riveted, for the eruption of a volcano of beauty (Colette de Jouvenel). PP 448

2011, 2011: nonfiction in english, book-2011, #non-fiction, *author: female, @read in english, +historical, +crossdressing, +gender, #biography, +writing, [quotes]

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