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Download Claudine at School epub


Download Claudine at School epub
ISBN: 0436105047
ISBN13: 978-0436105043
Category: No category
Author: COLETTE.
Language: English
Publisher: Secker & Warburg; First Uniform edition. edition (1956)
Pages: 286 pages
ePUB size: 1105 kb
FB2 size: 1199 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 672
Other Formats: docx lit txt doc

I was wondering if this translation was the full version. I compared it with the French original and it seemed to be quite faithful. Interesting, saucy, unabashed girl's view of coming-of-age from more than a century ago. Society and language has changed but I see a lot of similarities to "insides" like those of people of today.
The story behind Colette’s Claudine series of four books puts it about that that this is a thinly disguised fiction, based on the author’s own experiences at school. The book recounts some amusing, not to mention salacious, tales of life at a school, where the headmistress and second mistress were lesbians, and the central character and narrator, Claudine, was more interested in girls and young women than she was in boys and young men, at that time. Colette’s husband, publisher and author Monsieur Willy suggested she wrote ‘her’ escapades into a story, and he would see if he could publish them. By all accounts, he didn’t initially think much of them and slung them, forgotten, into a drawer. A few years later, discovering them, he realised they were gold, and published them under his name.

To be honest, the themes of hot-house gymslip pashes, crushes and overt lesbian sex, plus a fair smattering of dominatrix behaviour, perhaps become more alluring if they are presented as being more fact than fiction. Certainly Colette had a rather unconstrained, definitely unconventional sexual history, and the reader might assume Claudine IS Colette, though the story certainly has major departures from her own known life – Claudine is the only child of a widower who is an academic specialising in the study of slugs – this latter the source of much humour, whereas Colette was the daughter of a tax collector and her much loved mother, Sido did not die in the author’s childhood!

However, life did show her to be a highly sexy and alluring woman, with a remarkably, one would think, for the time, relaxed, light-hearted and playful attitude to sex. Certainly what might be thought of as ‘Victorian morality’ was not the case across the Channel, if Colette, and her book’s reception are anything to go by. This book and the three later volumes in the series became a runaway success, inspiring merchandising mayhem.

Her writing was hugely appreciated and praised in her native country – as indeed it deserved to be – her life and her art explored female sexuality, marriage, and the struggles of women for independence. She had a great gift for describing the world of the senses and physicality. Even in this first book there is clear delight in her descriptions of the natural world, the colours, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of reality. She was at one time regarded as France’s greatest woman writer, was a recipient of several literary honours, in both France and Belgium, President of the Academie Goncourt, a recipient of the Legion of Honour, nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948, and was the first French female writer to receive a full State funeral.

Reading a brief account of her life and works, though I had read the Claudine books, many years ago, I had not at that time taken on board how extraordinary the subject matter was, given the time of publication. Never mind the sexual revolution of the sixties. this Frenchwoman was openly exploring her sexuality as the twentieth century dawned – and doing so in her writing with wit, verve delicious open-ness and freedom.

Claudine is intelligent, witty, vicious, prone to sadism, rebellious, an utter minx, fearsome and sparklingly entertaining. She runs rings around everyone, she oozes sexuality and female power and is no man’s – or woman’s – pushover. The book fizzes with vivacity, and the girls are remarkably odd – the intelligent ones are all wickedly ill-behaved, and the adults to a man and woman easily manipulated by the charming and scary Claudine and her close chum and nemesis ‘the lanky Anaïs’ This is young girl power, like a firework display.

Who would have thought that weird eating habits – a predilection for eating snow, pencils, crayons, cigarette papers and drinking vinegar could produce such an example of girls with not only attitude, but high intelligence and wit (you’ll have to read the book!)

The translated version I read was by Antonia White – she of Frost In May fame. You can rather tell that this translator is someone who is able to do much more than just ‘literal word for word’, and has the feel for the shape of a sentence, and the flavour of writing and different writers. I had no sense of ‘in translation’ just of immediate connection with what I was reading