Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Who is Colette? / New Narrative

a French novelist (1873-1954). This isn't going to be terribly thorough, just what I can remember without looking up much beyond spellings and dates.

Ever see the musical Gigi? (Try not to giggle). Well, she wrote the novel it was based on. Although she certainly didn't start writing about happy, fairly normal love affairs until later in her life. Colette's life and love affairs are almost as fabulous as her writing. Many of her books are at least semi-autobiographical. The best place to start with her work would be Cheri (1920) and The Last of Cheri (1951), about a relationship between an older courtesan and a young man (based on an affair she had with her stepson).

She also did a stint in the Paris music halls after she divorced her first husband and became the lover of Mathilde de Morny, the Marquise de Belboeuf, or "Missy." Other friends and lovers included Natalie Barney and Gabriele d'Annunzio (before he became, uh, totally nationalist and Fascist).

She had a cat who went everywhere with her. You can download Barks and Purrs, a little play/dialogue between a dog and cat, mostly, from Project Gutenberg.

Colette is just a fascinating figure for thinking about, decadence, the fin de siecle and into modernism and beyond. I haven't thought about her in ages. If I were to go back and think about her, I suppose I'd obsess on her music hall career.


Some helpful responses and thoughts about New Narrative are coming in. I've not yet had the chance to read them all, but I will, and then I will say something about them. Thank you! Anyone else who wants to weigh in should.

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