Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Colette: the anecdote of the day

This is the best thing I learned today by far. It's from Colette's Sido (1929) by way of a scholarly book I'm reading for review. (The quote is the book's summation, not Colette's, btw.)

It seems that Colette's father "passed his retirement in his study writing his memoirs and binding the volumes himself. While her father was alive, neither Colette nor any other member of the family was ever tempted to open one of the books, because of their unprepossessing titles: My Campaigns, the Lessons of '70, Marshal Mahon Seen by a Fellow-Soldier, and so forth. After her father died, however the library was converted into a bedroom and Colette's elder brother made a discovery:....Except for a dedicaition, the books contained all blank pages." (Victoria Rosner, Modernism and the Architecture of Private Life, Columbia UP, 2005, 91.)

Amazing. As Victoria Rosner goes on to discuss, it's amazing, funny and sad how little, in the end, one has to do to set oneself up as a writer. Think of the solitary hours he passed, unmolested because he was writing. I wonder if they were spend in tortured writer's block or, instead, as I prefer to think, blissful dozing, confident in the knowledge that none would disturb l'auteur du famille.

5 comments:

meika said...

What if they were in invisible ink? Did they check that out?

Kate S. said...

What a marvellous story. Thanks for sharing it!

Sally said...

Hey Anne, who are you reviewing the book for? Did you notice that I reviewed this book in the Virginia Woolf Miscellany and picked that very passage to quote? I found it quite remarkable.

Anne said...

I love the idea of invisible ink. That's the great unwritten fiction. I'm glad you all liked it.

Sally--I'm reviewing for Modern Fiction Studies. I'll check out your VWM review--thanks for the tip. The review is VERY overdue. I blame--well--the combination of my own procrastination and a teething babe.

: )

Louise said...

A very useful tale, I found, when writing a poststructuralist critique of her work for my doctorate...the blank page! Hope all's well...being rejected left right and centre. Oh well, here's to submission two and book two. lots of love, xx