Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Vagabond by Colette - 1910. Translated by Stanley Appelbaum, 2017

Paris in July hosted by Thyme for Tea is a great event.  I Focus on literary works and nonfiction but you are invited to share your thoughts and experience on anything Paris related, from a great recipe, a favourite movie set in Paris, mine is Ninotchka, an account of your stay in Paris.  I hope lots of people  participate. Just be sure and link you post on The event home page.  

If Paris is the city of love, then Colette (Sidione-Gabreelle Colette 1873 to 1954) is the high priestess.  For many their image of Paris derives from memories of the movie, Gigi, made from her probably most famous work.  Living to almost eighty, she produced eighty volumes of writings of all sorts.  When she passed in 1954 she was given the first ever state funeral for a French woman.  She is a LBGTQ icon. Plus she loved cats!

I highly recommend for those interested in Colette and her milieu Secrets of the Flash: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman, upon which I posted during July in Paris 2015.

“The Vagabond is one of the first and best feminist novels”.  Erica Jong

Vagabond, with a an informative newly written introduction by the translator, tells the story of Renée Néré, thirty three and recently divorced.  She has begun working in a traveling Vaudeville Theatrical company.  Drawing on her own experiences as an actress and erotic dancer, Colette shows us a lot about the life of Renée and the backstage world of  French theatrical companies.

Actresses are often depicted as real or potential mistresses for wealthy roues in French literature, from Sand, to Balzac, Zola and Proust.  A woman who danced nude, as did the central character and Colette herself, was considered part of the Demi-Monde of Parisian society (The classic novel on this is Nana by Emile Zola).  Renée is being courted by a wealthy playboy who wants her to quit the stage and become his very well kept mistress.  The tension of the plot is derived from Renée’s love of her freedom and her craving for comfort and security.  Colette is acute in depictions of feelings and motivations.  

To those new to Colette I suggest you start with Gigi,then Vagabond.  If you read short stories, I have posted about this.  

Please share your experience with Colette.  

Mel u


Tamara said...

Not as prolific as you are with reading, i always find in your reviews interesting. Ive started Nana by Zola (although its a bit epic for me) and am quite interested in this era for my Paris in July focus. Thanks.

Mel u said...

Tamara, Nana is one of my favourite Zola novels. He actually spent a lot of time in places like The theaters where Nana performed as part of his Research, thanks for hosting July in Paris