Books by Carol Cosman

HISTORY
Released: June 7, 2000

" On the other hand, all but the most devoted theorists will catch a whiff, sooner or later, of a conference paper run amok."
Psychoanalyst Bayard takes a moment away from teaching French literature to reopen one of the most celebrated murder cases in fiction, with surprising results. Read full book review >
CAMILLE CLAUDEL by Anne Delbée
Released: Oct. 19, 1992

From French author and producer DelbÇe, a fictionalized biography of current French feminist martyr Claudel, whose ill- starred life has also been the subject of a 1989 movie (Camille Claudel), as well as a play by DelbÇe. Reflecting its theatrical origins, the novel proceeds in a series of set pieces to tell the life of a talented woman doomed by a famous brother and even more famous lover. Born in 1864 to an ill-assorted couple, with a mother, provincial in habit and outlook, doing all she could to crush her daughter's spirit, Camille was determined from childhood to be a sculptor. Encouraged by her father, she took lessons and, when the family moved to Paris, was apprenticed to the much older Auguste Rodin, who—though immediately recognizing her tremendous talent—was equally ready to use it for his own ends, getting her to work on such pieces as the famed Burghers of Calais and Gates of Hell. Meanwhile, her younger brother, Paul, went on to become a famous poet. Camille soon became Rodin's lover, exhibited some of her own pieces, but found herself the subject of gossip and unkind speculation—her powerful and original work was thought to be really Rodin's. Rodin himself, unable to leave his loyal mistress, the aging Rose, was congenitally unfaithful, as well as overly demanding of Camille's assistance in his studio. He also seems to have stolen Camille's ideas, using one of her most cherished concepts for his famous statue of Balzac. Poor, unable to afford expensive sculpting supplies, and neglected by her increasingly famous brother, Camille began in 1906 a downward spiral into a madness that could confine her for 30 years to an asylum, where she died in 1943. A sorry tale of a wasted talent and life that deserves something better than this melodramatic, impressionistic account— an account long on effects and short on insight. (Includes 16 pp. of original photographs of Claudel's work and life.) Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: April 1, 1987

The second volume of an ongoing translation of Satire's dense, immense biography and analysis of the young Flaubert. Sartre's thesis, expressed in highly complex format, is that Flaubert was something of a child genius, and that by reading the works of his extreme youth, the lover of his later works can recognize all of the future masterpieces, such as Madame Bovary, in embryo. This contradicts the pre-Sartreian belief that Flaubert was a late developer, in fact, the "family idiot." When such a complex text is translated, it should be asked for whom the job of Englishing is done. Even in English, Satire's arguments are sufficiently difficult to follow as to discourage the casual reader. Moreover, the interested investigator into Flaubert's early work had better know French, as almost none of it has been translated. Therefore, we are left with a large project that may well be of use to a limited number of scholars or either Sartre or of Flaubert. Otherwise, this fairly expensive volume cannot be tailed a "fun read" for those who are less deeply involved on a professional level. This caution slated, il is important lo stress that Cosman has continued her fluent job of translating what is occasionally an unfluent original. Despite his awkwardnesses of style, Sartre's is certainly one of the most stimulating recent works on Flaubert, largely because nothing embarrasses the critic. Even Flaubert's likely episodes of homosexuality in adolescence and later are given their full due here, with a description of a comrade's appreciating "the feminine charm emanating from Gustave's young body." The details of the carnal life of the novelist are only a part of the exceptionally thorough and all-inclusive approach that the author takes toward his fascinating subject. Illuminating, but more for specialists than for the general reader. Read full book review >