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The Vagabond Paperback – Sep 5 2001
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“The paradoxes of great literature are those of human nature, and Colette is nothing if not human . . . Accessible and elusive; greedy and austere; courageous and timid; subversive and complacent; scorchingly honest and sublimely mendacious; an inspired consoler and an existential pessimist--these are the qualities of the artist and the woman. Its is time to rediscover them.” ―From the Introduction
“The Vagabond, one of the first and best feminist novels ever written, is that rare thing: a great book which is also inspiring.” ―Erica Jong
About the Author
Born in 1873 in France, Colette was the author of many acclaimed novels noted for their intimate style. Other Colette titles from FSG include Gigi, Julie de Carneilhan, and Chance Acquaintances, The Complete Claudine, Chéri and The Last of Chéri, and The Complete Stories of Colette. She died in 1954.
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In her early to mid 30s, Colette grew weary of Willy, and turned her back on him to embark on a career as a dance hall performer. This is the setting for THE VAGABOND, Colette's first post-Willy novel, and the first to bear her own name.
The main character, Renee Nere, has been touring for 3 years, and although she's sometimes lonely, is enjoying her freedom and self-sufficiency. She's also suffering from what we'd refer to nowadays as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Her marriage to her philandering and abusive husband was so wretched, that when she meets another man who loves her, the slighest familiar gesture or word will trigger memories that incite revulsion.
THE VAGABOND is a gem of a novel that beautifully shows off Colette's gift for prose as well as her wonderful descriptions of life backstage as part of a touring group. If that isn't enough, she is also very gifted at revealing the psychological insights of her character. The introduction by Judith Thurman is well-done, and both the introduction and the novel left me wanting more Colette.