Saturday – Sunday Shorts: Colette’s Taste for Life

“Everything that astonished me when I was young astonishes me even more today. The time will never come for me when there are no more discoveries to make. Every morning the world is as new again and I will not cease to flower except through death.”
Colette

With a new movie out about a writer I have long idolized, the French author and actress Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, 1873–1954, I thought I would offer some quotes from this unique, witty, courageous, sensual realist who undoubtedly had—to echo the title of a book about Colette by Yvonne Mitchell—”a taste for life”.

Colette in her dance hall days

Colette is most famous for her novella Gigi, (1944), but to fully appreciate her talent, personality, heart, and spirit, you must be adventurous and delve further into her repertoire to truly discover the delicacy, humor, and wisdom of her narrative and poetic voice, which, besides being “largely concerned with the pains and pleasures of love, [is] remarkable for [its] command of sensual description.” To quote further from the online Encyclopedia Britannica entry by Kathleen Kuiper: “Her greatest strength as a writer is an exact sensory evocation of sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and colours of her world.”

I actually got the idea for the illustration included in my kindle short The Library Next Door from this photograph of Colette as a young woman.

“It is the image in the mind that links us to our lost treasures; but it is the loss that shapes the image, gathers the flowers, weaves the garland.”
Colette, My Mother’s House & Sido

Illustration for Kindle Short Story: The Library Next Door

“I went to collect the few personal belongings which…I held to be invaluable: my cat, my resolve to travel, and my solitude.”
Colette

“By associating with the cat, one only risks becoming richer.”
Colette

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

 

Highlighting The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life

This week I’m highlighting a wonderful website that celebrates …

… classic women authors who wrote in the English language. Here you’ll find their words of wisdom for readers and writers. Enjoy their life stories and quotations; learn more about their books; read their advice on the writing life; and enjoy contemporary voices on the writing process.
Source: The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life

Literary Ladies Web Page Header-page0001 (2)

The site owner, Nava Atlas, has also published a book of the same name:

book-cover

 

Nava was looking to add some more authors and has graciously allowed me to contribute overviews of a few of my favorites.

So far:

The English novelist and poet, Mary Webb (March 25, 1881 – October 8, 1927) whose writing reflected her strong ties to the countryside and people of her native Shropshire and who drew who drew on her pantheistic view of nature, fascination with folklore, innate sense of mysticism, consideration of the female experience, and empathy with the most vulnerable and stigmatized of earth’s creatures.
Read more …

Mary_webb

and, also,

The Anglo-Italian, Christina Rossetti – one of the most enduring of Victorian poets … the youngest of four artistic and literary siblings … the most famous being the Pre-Raphaelite artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Her poetry and prose … used lyricism and symbolism to contemplate themes like earthly and divine love, nature, death, gender and sexuality, and drew inspiration from the Bible, folk stories and the lives of the saints.
Read more …

Christina_Rossetti_3

Drawing of Christina Rossetti by Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Both will be included in my upcoming collection of three novellas about lesser-known/oft-neglected women writers. The third is Anne Brontë. Read more about her at The Literary Ladies Guide to the Writing Life.

Drawing of Anne Brontë by Charlotte Brontë

Drawing of Anne Brontë by Charlotte Brontë

This work-in-progress is in its infancy. I’ve begun with Anne Brontë, and here’s a little taste from Without the Veil Between 

She pulled out a drawing begun some months before, Little Ouseburn Church most picturesque viewed from the other side of Ouse Gill Beck, its chancel encased by shrubby trees, a grassy bank sloping towards the stream, the mausoleum just out of sight. The Robinsons’ carriage was commandeered every Sunday to transport the family the nearly two miles to the church, immediately afterwards waiting to take them back to the Hall for dinner by half-past noon. Anne was included in and yet irrelevant to the Sunday ritual, the latter demonstrated by no one questioning her leather folder tucked under her arm or even thinking to refuse, as the Inghams would have, her request to stay behind to draw a while before returning on foot.

“You may do what you please, Miss Brontë,” Mrs. Robinson was famous for saying, “and I will tell Cook to put your dinner aside.”

“Aren’t you afraid to walk back alone?” Mary might wonder before her mother insisted she get into the carriage.

Anne was relieved she didn’t have to answer, for any explanation of her need for bucolic solitude would have implied dissatisfaction with the confines of her room at Thorpe Green, the subdued light through one slanted window waking her very early but, by late afternoon or in the evening, providing inadequate illumination for reading, writing or artwork. She took whatever time she could to be on her own out-of-doors, freed from capricious children and their equally unpredictable parents, the dissatisfaction of servants and repetitive duties, and, especially, the dreariness back stairs and dark corridors made almost unendurable. In contrast it was easy to put up with feeling too warm in the sun and too cool in the shade, watch for rain, hold her paper from curling in the wind, wave away thirsty gnats, and be distracted by birdsong and any of the creatures she could hear but not see or see without seeing, like the fish making little whirlpools of bubbles in the stream between her and the church that months later, having to resort to memory and imagination, she hoped to finish her detailed impression of.
Copyright 2015 by DM Denton

ouseburn

Little Ouseburn Church – Anne Brontë’s sketch and a recent photograph by Mick Armitage http://www.mick-armitage.staff.shef.ac.uk/anne/bronte.html#main index

This collection is a long way from publication, but, if you enjoyed this sample and for those who may not know, I have two literary historical fictions available now – A House Near Luccoli and its sequel To A Strange Somewhere Fled, as well as two kindle short stories, The Library Next Door and The Snow White Gift, all published by All Things That Matter Press.

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

 

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