Laure: The Collected Writings

Peignot, Laure (Colette)

Published by City Lights Publishers, 2001
ISBN 10: 0872862933 / ISBN 13: 9780872862937
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This complete collection of writings published for the first time in English includes "Story of a Little Girl," about the Catholic priest who sexually molested her sister; "The Sacred," a collection of poems and fragments on mysticism and eroticism; notes on her association with contr-attaque and acephale, and her involvement with the Spanish civil war and the early years of the Soviet Union; a compendium of correspondence with her beloved sister-in-law and tortured love letters to Bataille; and an essay by Bataille about Laure's death of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-five.

People describe Laure as pure, dissolute, dark, luminous. I drank, I bathed in her radiant purity’ Jean Bernier says. Leiris writes about her lyrically in fourbis and frêle bruit as the saint of the chasm.’ Bataille calls her uncompromising, pure, and sovereign. It is tempting to romanticize Laure in the most sublime and violent sense as consumptive poet, a fervent revolutionary, Bataille’s great love. But if she is radiant and dirty, she is also insolent. That, it seems, is what saves her.” Jeanine Herman

"Colette Peignot, a.k.a. Laure, is one of the more fascinating and intense women writers of the past century. Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris described her as one of the most vehement existences [that] ever lived, one of the most conflicted.” They summarized her volatile personality as [e]ager for affection and for disaster, oscillating between extreme audacity and the most dreadful anguish, as inconceivable on a scale of real beings as a mythical being, she tore herself on the thorns with which she surrounded herself until becoming nothing but a wound, never allowing herself to be confined by anything or anyone.” In other words, Laure was the epitome of what Bataille would dub the sovereign” individual." Jason DeBoer, Absinthe Literary Review

"By the time one emerges from this compilation of autobiographical and biographical sketches by and about her, of poems, scattered notes and fevered letters, one can’t help feeling that her true masterwork was her ability to make others react to and remember her."  Mark Polizzotti, London Review of Books

Laure (1903-1938) was a revolutionary poet, masochist Catholic rich girl, and world traveler. Toward the end of her life she became the lover of French writer Georges Bataille. Her writings and her real life story were remarkable in their violence and intensity, and her relationships with Bataille and Michel Leiris clearly influenced their works.


From Publishers Weekly: Born in Paris in 1903 to an affluent, conservative Catholic family, Colette Laure Lucienne Peignot rebelled against her bourgeois background. Using the moniker Laure, she recreated herself, adopting a decadent lifestyle, radical politics and an anguished voice for her poetry, prose and essays. Published in English for the first time, these are the collected works of a marginal figure associated with better-known writers and political dissidents of the Parisian avant-garde between the wars. Laure worked for and financed the leftist journal La Critique sociale, which published some of Georges Bataille's most important essays as well as those of other surrealists and Marxists. At 31, she began an intense affair with Bataille, dying in his home four years later of tuberculosis. Laure destroyed much of her writing that, had it survived, might have made this collection a more coherent, cohesive whole. As it is, the book would have benefited from more historical background and explanatory material to aid the general reader. The interest here lies more in how Laure's letters, poems, political essays and journal entries capture the essence of an era and reveal a tortured, self-conscious artist who never had a chance to mature.
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Laure: The Collected Writings
Publisher: City Lights Publishers
Publication Date: 2001
Book Condition: Fair

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