Creating Colette: Vol. 2, from Baroness to Woman of Letters 1912-1954

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9781883642761: Creating Colette: Vol. 2, from Baroness to Woman of Letters 1912-1954

The life of Colette (1873-1954) was too large for one book; this second, concluding volume opens with the death of her mother and her marriage to the editor in chief of the influential newspaper Le Matin. Colette's chameleon-like persona appears here in all its incarnations: novelist, actress, journalist, raconteur, romantic. The authors meticulously trace her self-willed ascension to the status of icon and show why her legend endures. Colette was the first female member of the Acadmie Goncourt and the first female writer given a state funeral, in 1954.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

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 oncle. The second volume (after Creating Colette: From Ingenue to Libertine, 18731913, 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 mothers death refused to go to the funeral or wear mourning. Her daughter, Colette Rene, 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 worksGigi, Sido, The Break of Day, The Pure and the Impurehelped to create a following both popular and literary. Much honored, Colette was entered into the Acadmie 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) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Although it made her a baroness, Colette's second marriage (to Henry de Jouvenel, the vain, flashy politician and editor of Le Matin) in 1912 changed little of her androgynous lifestyle: she continued to have lovers of both sexes, including the silent-film star Musidora and her new stepson, Bertrand, whom she initiated at 16. Until then she was "Colette Willy," former wife of the exploitative journalist Henry Gauthier-Villars, who wrote under the name "Willy" and published much of his wife's early fiction as his own. Colette could neither type nor dictate, yet she turned out reams of fiction and reviews between the wars. Her Claudine novels in the first years of the century (originally claimed by Willy) made her famous; Ch?ri in 1920 was an instant classic; in 1944, the bestselling Gigi proved that her advancing yearsAshe was then 71Ahad not slowed her down. Severe arthritis eventually left her bound to a wheelchair, but she was cared for by the devoted and once-debonair Maurice Goudeket, 16 years her junior, who began courting her when she was 51 and married her when she was 62. The most dramatic pages here recount the Nazi occupation of France, when the Jewish Goudeket was rounded up. Released through her collaborator literary friends, he hid nightly; one of her neighbors suggested that he was safest in his wife's bedA"they would never look for him there." With this volume, coauthors Francis and Gontier (Charmed World) conclude a vibrant, revealing biography of a writer who rose above her naughty reputation to become a memorable chronicler of her bohemian life and times. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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