Just did a REread of these two wonderful books under the Title "The Days Were Too Short" which captures the Nostalgia of their subject without any maw Just did a REread of these two wonderful books under the Title "The Days Were Too Short" which captures the Nostalgia of their subject without any mawkish sentimentality ...and therein lies their strength, while retaining charm and humour and sorrow. A brilliant recounting of Provencal Lives and a Childhood.
THERE ARE NO SPOILERS IN THIS RAVE !!!!
I read these two books under the One Title of "The Days Were Too Short" in the early 1960's. Marcel Pagnol wrote and had them published in 1957 when he was 62 years old. He died in 1975 having written two more books about his Provencal Childhood. I was surprised to discover recently that the books were originally written for children and were quite brief...having read the first 20 pages I have my doubts about this!!! The English Title really picks up on the heavy Nostalgic Feel that these books convey, very probably not to children who are too young to be 'nostalgic', but with adults this aspect of a Lost Past has absolutely WOWED them. AND me !!! And Unashamedly so. One has only to read the reviews here and Everyone is totally besotted even though Most of Us never had a Provencal Childhood; but we all had....a Childhood !!...and somehow they were all touched by a Magic of some kind. Innocence, first experiences, gullibility, naivety, first happinesses and first griefs... all are Common yet Unique - the environments, the families, the times, the child etc. A Lost World...and Life will never have that magic again. I haven't read them since the 60's, but I have NEVER forgotten them. Mine were condensed by Reader's Digest...as if they weren't short enough !!! BUT I have NEVER let that book go. It was something very precious to me and still is. It has followed me around and always found its niche on my Bookshelves. The memory of it is painful as well as delightful...that is because of the 'nostalgia' of course. I could feel it in the reviews...and I read ALL of them. Two films, named for the first two books - My Father's Glory" and "My Mother's Castle"- were released around 1990 accompanied by very evocative music. Of course I saw them, as I'm sure any Fan of the books would have as soon as they became aware of them...you see, we were actually ADDICTED....and still are I bet!! Happily addicted, which is what addicton is all about surely. In a way I dread having to read them again...will I survive another exposure ??
I read this in 1986, years before Goodreads and computers entered our lives!!
This story has a much Larger and Wider Scenario than a private life of a I read this in 1986, years before Goodreads and computers entered our lives!!
This story has a much Larger and Wider Scenario than a private life of a single woman. My main response was to the tragedy that can be brought about by what I will call "Catholic Scruples" which can drive many to maddness. Here is a woman who loses one uncaring husband only to have him replaced by a wonderful one, more than she could have ever dreamed possible. AND WHAT DOES SHE GO AND DO???? Right...she destroys it. As any faithful daughter of the Church was bound to do. And as Janet Lewis concludes so perceptively, but perhaps too kindly, when one is dealing with moral fanaticism, "when hate and love have together exhausted the soul, the body seldom endures for long." Would she have survived mentally her 'husband's' execution outside her home and his body's destruction by fire, the smell of it rammed up her nostrils and she almost luxuriating in the Horror and Idiocy of what she herself had brought about??
"Regrets, I've had a few.."she may have begun to her grandchilden gathered round her knees in days to come, if she had survived that long, well supported by the Moral Righteousness with which her catholic faith would have blessed her deed. Sin promised to be the Saviour of her Life, or would have been, if only she had had the courage to believe in herself and her own self-rule.
As far as priests go, sane priests are those who realise the insanity of an Idea like Celibacy; celibacy originally introduced after hundreds of years of married priests, as an Economic Measure only, but sold as a Spiritual Necessity ...to the gulliblle and obedient, these latter no true virtues!! No wonder the Church is light on Church History.
Today priests who are able to live as homosexual or heterosexual husbands to another, both valid sexualities, and still dedicated to the service of the Priesthood should be reinstalled openly ...along with the creation of Women Priests, to totally resurrect a now spurned and hopefully dying institution. Then there will be no need for a Wife of Martin Guerre!!!
And how about it's brevity...95 pages!!! So much to recommend it in theme and size. I'd give it 5 stars for it's import...in no way a criticism of lesser evaluations ...since I am coming from a life as a Rebellious Cleric - sinning in sanctity and taking my Life's Reins thoroughly out of the hands of a Disabled Church.
Ghastly tragic tale if ever there was one...but needed....more
I feel compelled to clarify what some readers of this review understandably might see as an Offensive Remar 'OFFENSIVE' ALERT !!!!...but no spoiler....
I feel compelled to clarify what some readers of this review understandably might see as an Offensive Remark re a Sexual Life. I can appreciate this reaction because the subject is too often seen as 'Private' and a sex-obsessed Church has made it into the Cardinal Sin. These Monastic Romances, for these relationships were taken very seriously by the participants, were bred from a desperate loneliness and stifiled youthful desire; many left the Monastic Life feeling they had failed, whereas I always considered that the system had failed us. Some married and became acceptably normal, while others joined the Gay Ranks, several of these committing suicide. Guilt was well instilled. Celibacy was promoted as the Higher and Better Path; compared to those who merely married, We Celibates were able to Love Everybody. However, Lives given over to alcoholism, desperate loneliness, nervous breakdowns, secret affairs, constant guilt and quitting the monastery as failures were the Fruits of the Celibate Life for Most. Few never doubted the validity of their Forbidden Relationship and grew and blossomed instead. To me Sex was one of God's Better Gifts and perversely I gloried in it; I finally refused to confess what I could only regard as Positive and Permissable . "Church History", surprisingly, was never taught in the Celibate House, so we never learned that it was not introduced because of a "Vocation of Love" but as an Economic Measure by an Institution intent on the practicalities of running an efficent and profitable Organisation. Shedding wives and offspring stopped for good a drain on Profits, and were in no way Essentials of a Wholesome Life. The Italian Clergy saw that a Sex Life was actually essential to Normalacy. Luther was scandalised on his visit to Rome, but as an apostate, he soon took an ex-nun to wife and lived 'Happily Ever After' -as did most of the priests and students who left our Monastic Order in droves after the Pope condemned Birth Control in the late 1960's. Sex should be a Joy, not an imposition or a deprivation , and when mutually respectful and caring, never a source of Guilt. Passion and Laughter should not be strangers.
June, 2016. Eight Years have passed since I cast aside this grotesque book - the Mutual Diaries of the Two Goncourt Brothers -
...knowing Full Well I would have to pay it a Revisit as it is a True Reflectionof a Slice of 19th Century French Life ...and I AM a Francophile... and MUST face up to ALL aspects of the French and France!!
Having just resurrected the Rabelesian, bawdy Mediaeval "Droll Stories" of Honore de Balzac, purchased soon after my Own Departure from a Catholic Monkish Monastery, where I was part of the Unspoken Sexual Life, ...I could bring a Dinner Party to both a Deathly Silence and Laughter by calmly admitting that my Best Years of a Lively Sex Life were spent in a Monastery... I realised that my Naive,Ingenuous Exterior belied my Continual Search for a Realistic Life, and Frenchmen like Emile Zola, Honore de Balzac, Proust,Hugo, the Goncourt Brothers, de Maupassant, Flaubert, Baudelaire etc were definitely Realists and an area I was committed to investigating. Thankfully I also found there Two Women -impossible to miss- Aurore Lelia Dudevant better known to History as Georges Sand... and Colette...my friends for Life.
The Goncourt Brothers and the more easily digestible de Balzac lie on my bookshelves, a little like as yet undetonated bombs, and before I fade away, I feel obliged to partake of their realistic though often indigestible Feasts. Presently they still lie on their shelves, but dusted off...awaiting their coming Resurrection. June 2016.
Written January , 2009. DEATH AND WOMEN...with SEX,of course !!
These Journals should be put on the Feminist Shelf, because........................... IT - Feminism - is NEVER referred to !!!!!!!!!! A concept never imagined or considered a possibility!! And WHY???
Death and Women are Two of the obsessive subjects of the Jolly Goncourt Freres. Ghastly slow deaths without modern medicines to assist.
And Women ??? Not surprisingly,it is solely "Women and ....SEX !!
Oh, yes,...plus..Women and how stupid they are.
Sadly the Women the Goncourt Brothers met also had that opinion of themselves. The Boys never seemed to have run across George Sand and if they did, did they ever give her a chance to reveal herself as a Mind ?? Probably not. Because it was not expected. And the girls do appear to be a bit thick, probably because they were never given a chance to see themselves as anything else but !!
Despite all the famous names,and culture and....whatever, I really couldn't take any more, any more of the ladies who were introduced, and were happy to be what they were expected to be. But we didn't get to hear the girls away from the blokes. Now THAT may have been a revelation.
It was Revelation enough to see the Girls of the Circle of the Goncourt Brothers.
And I had had ENOUGH.
I have shelved this under "Books-I've-thrown-across-the-room" but it is safely awaiting recall on that other shelf "Re-reads" even though/because I NEVER finished it.
Next time, knowing what to expect may assist in coping; and I shall read on, glean some interesting knowledge, accept the Times for what they were, be glad the book has an end and come out on the Other Side.
THESE ARE TO BE RELISHED...understand??? RELISHED!!!
There are 19 short stories here and what could be termed a "novella", which at FORTY pages is NOTTHESE ARE TO BE RELISHED...understand??? RELISHED!!!
There are 19 short stories here and what could be termed a "novella", which at FORTY pages is NOT really short ...while the "short" stories really ARE short being at 3, 4, 5 and 7 pages long.
The BEST thing, regardless of length, is that they are written by a consummate artist and collector of Human Nature - Colette!!!
And to add to that, being French, there is that unique way of viewing, of sharply observing which is curious and amused yet open and non-judgemental. Of course not ALL French people are blessed with this virtue, the point is that Colette IS SO BLESSED.
So these especially short, consistently short, tales, are sharply and deftly drawn and complete; and cover such a range of places, situations and peoples...from animal lovers to murderers, deserted husbands to burglars, foxes to hens. And amazing how much can be revealed and left unsaid in such a small package. And still be complete. ...more
I'm racing through this and it's Grand !!!! THANKS, Edmund!!! (I'm wondering if it may take a Gay Man to write about One??? AND another writer too !!! I'm racing through this and it's Grand !!!! THANKS, Edmund!!! (I'm wondering if it may take a Gay Man to write about One??? AND another writer too !!! And live in Paris?? It surely can't hurt!!!!)
Otherwise,this is a brief read, but from someone who knows his subject inside out. Consequently it's concise AND informative and entertaining - but not laborious, boring etc etc!! You will come out informed and entertained. And ready to travel elsewhere into Proust Territory.
Edmund White's concise, unverbose biography of Marcel and his recommendation of George Painter's biography, Volume One of which I read many years ago, gives me a refreshing way into Proust's final volumes.
Painter's book will be more detailed than White's but White mentions one winning quality of Painter's...he is amusing.
To place George Sand on a pedestal is to risk letting go of a warm, caring and sensitive personality and to concentrate solely on the Woman who standsTo place George Sand on a pedestal is to risk letting go of a warm, caring and sensitive personality and to concentrate solely on the Woman who stands for her Time, but also transcends it in the values and causes she espoused, publicised and popularised. Strangely, the very works that carried her message, those many novels and tracts,now appear dated and passe, and practically totally replaced by her Own Life. That Life has been the subject of film and books for some years now because her Life carries and illustrates her beliefs more than any fictional tale could credibly bear. Happily that Life fully exposes that warmth and caring humanity that lay behind all her causes and beliefs.
Her writings and activities resonated beyond her France and throughout Europe. But what of England?? Two British fans of her achievements were the expatriate and literary husband and wife team Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett-Browning who had written two poem in her honour. The English poetess had placed George well and truly at pedestal height, attempting on first meeting to bow and kiss her hand but was gently rebuked with - "Non, je ne veux pas" (No, I don't wish it.") George then promptly kissed her on the lips.
TO BE COMPLETED...her influence on the Brontes, especially Emily's "Wuthering Heights". ' ...more
A wonderful look at the cultural trappings that every society brings to the most natural and urgent of natural instincts - consequently and ironicallyA wonderful look at the cultural trappings that every society brings to the most natural and urgent of natural instincts - consequently and ironically well and truly "fucking" it up for just about everybody.
I enjoyed "Gigi" and "Cheri" once I'd got my head around the sexual culture of certain segments of French Society of the Fin de Siecle. The Loneliness and yet High Social Profile of the Courtesan is well and truly captured by Colette. Its ironies, possibilities of great wealth,its pitfalls,its children and the consequences of ageing are all touched on. And its obsession with "a good marriage" must be one of its biggest ironies. And "true love"? Where exactly could that fit in in this cultural entanglement of status, wealth and survival?
"Cheri" gives us a look at a love recognised in this milieu, but too late. And of how the two lovers find their own solutions and survivals in a world rigid, unforgiving, unsympathetic and ruthless. A tale of sadness and resolution, resignation and acceptance, as only Colette can serve it up. Oh, Colette, you are a gem!!!
Now "Gigi". I missed Colette. But her wit and wisdom were there behind the scenes. A little gem that you may read so quickly you don't even notice its punch, its turning topsy-turvey sexual traditions of Belle-Epoque Paris.A charmer!...more
What a companion is Colette!!Especially Colette!! Especially when she puts herself into one of her stories, as she does with "Chance Acquaintances".
I'vWhat a companion is Colette!!Especially Colette!! Especially when she puts herself into one of her stories, as she does with "Chance Acquaintances".
I've just read it for the fifth time in about 30 years and all I have ever been able to recall of each prior reading is "the pleasure of her company." The plot, the characters, the setting...all gone from my memory, as I just realised Colette suggests with "obliterated" in the last sentence in this slice of "hotel holiday life".
Of course the plot and the characters are wonderful!!!!But its the little asides and the descriptions I relish. eg.describing her friend's huge square-cut diamonds and lozenge-shaped brilliants:"regular paving stones of jewellery". Cursing her lack of backbone:"I was honest enough not to confuse it with a spirit of adventure. Who on earth put it into my head that I possess adventurous instincts? The very most of which I was capable was a hasty 'Yes' in the hopes of getting a bit of peace." And:"to exaggerate the sorrows of love is tantamount to an indiscretion: that it reveals the lack of that precious faculty, a sense of the ridiculous." "Adventures happen to people who......deserve them." "Idleness cures all ills." What a treasure trove of wisdoms!!
Now "Gigi". I missed Colette. But her wit and wisdom were there behind the scenes. A little gem that you may read so quickly you don't even notice its punch, its turning topsy-turvey sexual traditions of Belle-Epoque Paris.A charmer!
And "Julie de Carneilhan".Mmmmm! Has never grabbbed me. But this time, if I have matured with the passing years,the scales may drop from my eyes.Have read past Chapter One and no increase in maturity in sight ...yet! RETURN FOR THE EXCITING CONCLUSION....WAYNE!!
WELL...HERE IT IS!!!!...Months later!! I have taken up Chapter One of "Julie de Carneilhan" a few times and thought about taking it up MANY times in the several months since I wrote the above. NOW!!! I have only TWO chapters to go and am champing at the bit, frothing at the mouth in my eagerness to relish this little classic. AND this ALL happened in the last week!!!
What a bittersweet but totally UN-selfindulgent story this is. Someone who can be so realistic about Love as Colette, yet can still suffer at its hands, flaunt the scars and declare her Emancipation is indeed an Ideal to follow. Julie de C is in the throes of Emancipating herself from a charming Rat of a divorced second husband ,Comte Herbert d'Espivant.She is living an impecunious life in a studio and putting on a brave face. We meet her friends and her brother Leon and his horses.That's it!!!whoops...AND finally the new wife of Herbert. In between: one liners about Parisian weather. And Colette's (or Julie's) observations: eg,She followed him out with her eye."There's white pack thread showing in his moustache and his nose is getting bigger.That's how the end starts , even with Carneilhans."(Having a meal in her studio with her brother, Leon.) eg.The deep mauvish night closing over Paris warned her of Summer's end...(during the same meal) eg.love seldom finds expression in gaiety. eg. She called to mind those little festivities of the flesh, swiftly conducted and swiftly forgotten... eg.Three, four years of improvised meals on a card-table(reflecting on her poverty without self-pity.) eg.The storm, lightened by the shower, had drifted by without a downpour and now it was sailing up and away, opening its lips of fire across a pale yellow sunset. Her encounters with her second ex, Herbert the Comte, are delicious, especially the last where the male vanity and hypocrisy are also ...delicious. And her 28 year old admirer Coco Vatard is a sideline tale in itself. Yes, I am a humble convert, admitting the errors of my ways, that I ever could have doubted "my Colette", again offering incense and being rewarded with that longing to return to Paris where I always end up at the wonderful Palais-Royal,several times, where Colette lived out her final years. Amen!!! ...more