CREATING COLETTE by Claude Francis

CREATING COLETTE

Vol. II, From Baroness to Woman of Letters, 1912-1954
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The eventful life of one of the century’s great libertines is told in such a breathless rush of facts, names, and juicy episodes that readers only casually aware of French author Colette will soon cry uncle. The second volume (after Creating Colette: From Ingenue to Libertine, 1873—1913, 1998) of Francis and Gontier’s lengthy biography picks up as the writer turns 40 and weds Henry de Jouvenel, editor of Le Matin. Now the baroness de Jouvenel, and pregnant, Colette nevertheless continued her wild ways, most notably with her public affair with the famed actress Musidora. Earlier, Colette had ignored her mother’s entreaties to visit her and upon her mother’s death refused to go to the funeral or wear mourning. Her daughter, Colette RenÇe, nicknamed Bel Gazou, or “pretty warbler,” would come in for similar neglect from the work- and career-oriented author. Independent as she was, Colette was no feminist: an opponent of civil rights for women, she found interest in politics to be grotesque, depriving women of the feminine charms of “incompetence, timidity, silence.” Colette’s lesbian and hetero affairs would continue well into the 1930s, when she married a diamond dealer named Maurice Goudeket, a man 15 years her junior. Her efforts to free him from a Nazi concentration camp during WWII became the stuff of the Colette legend. Her writing had become infused with Fourierist principles, a kind of French “free love” philosophy, which, as read in her major works—Gigi, Sido, The Break of Day, The Pure and the Impure—helped to create a following both popular and literary. Much honored, Colette was entered into the AcadÇmie Goncourt and the French Legion of Honor. When she died in 1954, she was granted a state funeral with full military honors. An enormous cataloguing of pertinent information but rendered with little or no grace or personal insight into its subject. (photos)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-883642-76-0
Page count: 274pp
Publisher: Steerforth
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999




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