Legacy

Standard

Paris

“Hope costs nothing. ” 
Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette died on August 3, 1954, at the age of 81, in her Paris apartment at the Palais Royal.  A legend within her lifetime, thousands of mourners attended her state funeral.  Her writings have stood the test of time.  Even today, Colette’s thoughts continue to shape the way in which we view aging, authenticity of relationships, and the acceptance of our role in the world of nature.  She recognized that joy and grief were interwoven within the human experience when she wrote, “look for a long time at what pleases you, and longer still at what pains you.”  Perhaps her greatest gift was her belief that we could be happy.

 “Be happy. It’s one way of being wise.” 

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Colette On Writing

Standard

Elephant

Writing is bringing together words to articulate a thought or organize a narrative. It is a straightforward undertaking that has the potential to generate far-reaching consequences.  When does this latent power become a reality?  How does an idea span a globe, transcend cultural norms, overcome time limitations? Perhaps the answer is in the definition.  Sidonie Gabrielle Colette differentiated between a writer and an author.

“Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.”

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

 

Finding Love

Standard

Paris

“I want nothing from love, in short, but love.” 
Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, La Vagabonde

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette found love and happiness when she met Maurice Goudeket, a young businessman turned journalist.  They met in 1925, married on April 3, 1935 and remained together under Colette’s death in 1954.  This was her longest and happiest relationship.  During the last 20 years of her life, Colette suffered from a debilitating arthritis.  Even so, she continued to write about her impressions, recollections and fantasies.  Colette published Gigi in 1945 when she was 72 years old and lived to see her novel made into a film in 1948.  She would have been pleased to know that Vicente Minnelli directed a musical adaptation in 1958.

“Chance, my master and my friend, will, I feel sure, deign once again to send me the spirits of his unruly kingdom. All my trust is now in him- and in myself. But above all in him, for when I go under he always fishes me out, seizing and shaking me like a life-saving dog whose teeth tear my skin a little every time. So now, whenever I despair, I no longer expect my end, but some bit of luck, some commonplace little miracle which, like a glittering link, will mend again the necklace of my days. ” 
Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

On Growing Old

Standard
A Paris Rose

A Paris Rose

A lifeline move in one direction as it marks the hours, months, years.  Our bodies may feel the effects of aging, but our hearts and minds have the capacity to be ageless.  Always be astonished with the essence of living.

“You must not pity me because my sixtieth year finds me still astonished.  To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.”

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Unknown Worlds

Standard

Paris Fountain

“On this narrow planet, we have only the choice between two unknown worlds. One of them tempts us – ah! what a dream, to live in that! – the other stifles us at the first breath.”

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Colette’s writing career spanned five decades, from her early 20s to her mid-70s. Her themes were joy, love, and being a woman in a male-dominated world.  This theme was present in La Vagabonde, published in 1910, which presents a narrative about an actress who rejects a man she loves for a life of independence.

In 1912, Colette married Henri de Jouvenel des Ursins, the editor of the newspaper Le Matin, and had their daughter Colette de Jouvenel, in 1913.  During WWI, Colette transformed her husband’s St. Malo estate into a hospital for the wounded.  She was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.

The 1920’s were kind to Colette.  By 1927, she was often celebrated as France’s greatest woman writer. Much of her success could be attributed to the sympathetic responses from readers to her insights into the behaviour of women in love. One thing is certain; she was on a mission to live gloriously.  And she chose her unknown world.

 “I believe there are more urgent and honourable occupations than the incomparable waste of time we call suffering.”

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

 

No Shame or Sadness

Standard

Paris

“I love my past, I love my present.  I am not ashamed of what I have had, and I am not sad because I no longer have it.”

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette’s life was marked by three marriages and numerous affairs. Described as vivid, sensual and highly imagistic, her writings held autobiographical nuances.  It seems that Colette intentionally blurred the margins between fiction and reality.

In 1920, she married Henri Gauthier-Villars, a music writer and critic of dubious talent. A philanderer lacking moral fibre,   he forced Colette to produce novels that would bankroll his personal needs.  She became a success with her “Claudine” novels, which she wrote as Colette Willy from 1900 until her marriage breakdown in 1906.  After her divorce, Colette did not look back, but went headlong into a career as a music hall mime.  For six years, she traveled the circuit and enjoyed modest success. Through it all, she continued with her writing, growing ever more confident and prolific.  In 1909, at 36 years of age, she produced and starred in her first play, En Camarades.

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette embraced all of what life offered – hope, sadness, joy, betrayal, and disappointment – and transformed these moments into an art form.  She loved her past and present, but was able to move on towards her destiny.