From: Karen Ocana <CXKO@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 05 Dec 1995 08:45:10 EST
Re: old fart Sartre &c. .from "Colette", a review of _Colette: a
biography_, by Michele Sarde, Michael Joseph. By Angela Carter.
[. . .]
"In Simone de Beauvoir's memoirs, there's a description of a dinner
party de Beauvoir attended with Sartre, at which Colette, already the
frizzed and painted sacred cow of French letters, babbling away to
*les gars*, as was her wont, about dogs, cats, knitting, *le bon vin*,
*les bons fromages* and so on, offered de Beauvoir only the meagre
attention of an occasional, piercing stare. De Beauvoir thought
Colette disliked women. Possibly Colette, never a one to be
*bouleversee* by a great mind, and, perhaps, privately relishing
boring a great mind into the ground iwth nuggets of earthy Burgundian
wisdom, was no more than contemplating the question every thinking
woman in the western world must have posed herself one time or other:
why is a nice girl like Simone wasting her time sucking up to a boring
old fart like J.-P.? Her memoirs will be mostly about him; he will
scarcely speak of her. Colette would have _known_ so, intuitively.
Of course, Colette could no more have written _The Second Sex_
than de Beauvoir could have danced naked on a public stage, which
precisely defines the limitations of both these great ladies and it
is this very self-exploitative, stripper quality that earths most of
Colette's later writing. However, it is hard to imagine Colette, had
she attended the Sorbonne, getting any kind of buzz out of coming
second to Sartre in her final examinations, or, indeed, out of coming
second to anybody. She had to be number one, even if she had to
reinvent the whole genre of literature, and herself included, to do so.
Even after all these years, de Beauvoir still apperas to be proud
that only Sartre achieved higher marks in those first exams than she.
What would have happened, one wonders, if she had come top? What
would it have done to Sartre? Merely to think of it makes the mind reel.
Only love can make you proud to be an alsoran. Would love have made
J.-P. proud like that?
But Colette simply did not believe that women *were* the second sex.
[. . .]
*London Review of Books*, 1980.