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The Vagabond

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,080 ratings  ·  157 reviews
Thirty-three years-old and recently divorced, Renée Néré has begun a new life on her own, supporting herself as a music-hall artist. Maxime, a rich and idle bachelor, intrudes on her independent existence and offers his love and the comforts of marriage. A provincial tour puts distance between them and enables Renée, in a moving series of letters and meditations, to resolv
Paperback, 252 pages
Published September 5th 2001 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1910)
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,080 ratings  ·  157 reviews

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I've enjoyed all the Colette books that I have read, but The Vagabond is my favorite. Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a French writer in the early 20th century, created the memorable characters of Gigi, Cheri, Claudine, and from The Vagabond, Renee Here. Renee gave her love to her first husband who cheated on her and left her. Now at age 33 she is independent, working as a successful dancer and actor, lonely, but afraid to give her heart to anyone again. Then along comes the handsome and rich bachelo ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Why in the world did I like this so much?

Is it the plot? It is about a music-hall dancer, Rénée Néré. She is thirty-three, a Parisian of Montmartre, a recent divorcée. She is burnt by marriage. She is determined and hardened, but honestly she is really just hurt. Hard on the surface and determined to survive. Will she choose to manage on her own or will she marry into an easy life of comfort and wealth…but what must she sacrifice then? What does she really want? We watch her path toward self-dis
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most beautiful piece of writing I've ever found. If there is a more honest exposition, a more sincere appraisal, of the narrative we live when not consumed by mundane distractions, I look forward to your recommendations.

Colette's talent lies in enumerating the sensory details we barely notice and explicating the relationship between the tactile and the emotional. In an existential sense, this is a novel about nature and desire, surrender and choice. But forget the philosoph
Jim Fonseca
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Long before Cher and Madonna thought they invented “first names only,” there was Colette (1873-1954). And long before gay rights, Collette, who was bisexual, flaunted her numerous lesbian affairs. Of course this was Paris, not Peoria. In addition to being an author, Colette was a stage performer – actress, mime and dancer and that time of her life informs this book. I’ve since read that the title, “The Vagabond” is in error and it really should be more properly translated as “The Wanderer.” Inte ...more
Mar 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
'Cheri' and 'The Last of Cheri' are two of my favorite books and I thought it was about time I read more of Colette, and 'The Vagabond' didn't disappoint. It's hard to believe this was written in 1910 because the truth of what she writes is still so relevant today - a divorced woman struggling between the choice of a new love and her work, which allows her to be independent at last. Will she give up her job that enables her to provide for herself and do the things she wants, though the hours are ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written but not at all what I expected. I guess that I was thinking it would be something like Gigi; instead, it is the painfully melancholy story of a woman so wounded by her failed marriage that she is struggling to suppress all emotional attachments.
Jul 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A glittering stream of diamonds came from Colette's pen to create this novel. It would have been sheer pleasure to read this just for the language alone, and I regret not reviving my French skills to read it in the original language. I had both admiration and affection for the protagonist, Renee, an "older" divorcee, making her way alone in the world as a cabaret performer, who meets a wealthy, respectable admirer who becomes her suitor. Renee cannot be too different from the author herself, int ...more
Adriana Scarpin
É diferente do que eu esperava, ao menos a descrição que vi em certos lugares torna a protagonista muito menos pudica do que de fato ela é, mas mesmo com uma impressão errada de se colocar a liberdade acima do temor que ela de fato sente, é uma boa obra à frente de seu tempo que aplaca a irritante lenda de que tudo que uma mulher de fato quer é um homem.
Constance Dunn
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Literates
First off, I am bias towards this book, as any reader would be who finds a character too like-minded, too closely resembling her own set of cirsumstances. That being said, once the bond is created it then becomes a personal betrayal when the internal monologue is not the one the reader would have when their self-like character confronts the world.
What does any of this have to do with "The Vagabond?" Well, to be frank, the internal monologue didn't stray too far off from what I would of thought
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Colette dit je et parle au présent, quand elle écrit Renée.

Renée est artiste de music-hall pour mieux être libre, libre de son premier mari, libre amoureusement et financièrement. Mais saura-t-elle garder cette indépendance, après sa rencontre avec Maxime, un riche héritier qui s'éprend d'elle ?

A travers un texte simple et direct, parfois fragile et d'autres fois travaillé, Colette parle de l'indépendance de la femme, tout en décrivant son monde de music-hall, peuplé d'acrobates aux visages fa
Feb 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Délicieusement début XXe !
Tucki Bailey
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
30 years ago, in my twenties, I read this and felt I had a serious kindred spirit. Since then I have learned French if just to read it again in it's original language.
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book and I could cry from sadness and anger. I hate that Colette ended it like that. WHY??? My heart aches for both characters.

This 1910 novel was written from the author's own experiences, which one can read in a short biography at the start. This information allowed me to understand the protagonist's feelings on love and the choices she made. On a personal level, I can identify with Renee on the fear of love and of losing one's own freedom and self to it. I would give thi
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, classics, 2017
I was expecting this to be a bit like Age of Innocence, and I guess it is, thematically. But it's also feels a bit like Virginia Woolf. That's a problem because I've never been a big fan of her writing.

In addition to a stream-of-consciousness style, it's also written rather colloquially with lots and lots of sentence fragments and at least half a dozen ellipses per page.

Three's something off-putting about the prose. All the ellipses and sentence fragments don't quite scan in English - the sente
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
A classic feminist translation from French that’s a “romantic” story told by a heartbroken performer named Renee, who must choose between freedom and love during Victorian times.

About: Published in 1910 this is a short book that is supposedly a semi-autobiography from the interesting bohemian author – Colette. The story is told in first person by Renee Nere, the main character who has divorced her wealthy, philandering, artist husband after eight years of emotional torture. Damaged, much wiser,
Aug 01, 2007 rated it liked it
I really like Collette's writing in this book. It has received some negative reviews for an awkward translation, but I like it. It's very evocative of the narrator's personality.

Great book for getting a feel for what life as a woman in the underbelly of Paris was like in the early 20th century.
Allyson Shaw
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Can a book save your life? I believe so. Through some foresight I stuffed this book in my hospital bag before being admitted to the Dickensian Royal Aberdeen Infirmary where I almost died of complications with asthma and influenza type A. I clung to the details of life force in the book-- while struggling to breathe and to get care in the grim institution where I was to get well. I read certain pages over and over, immersing myself in the joy of the prose.

I tried to read this book as a young wo
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Tu mi volevi illuminare di quella banale aurora, poiché mi compiangevi così buia. Buia, se vuoi: come una camera vista dall'esterno. Scura, e non buia. Scura, e arredata dalla diligenza di una vigile tristezza; argentata e crepuscolare come l'upupa, come il sorcio setaceo, come l'ala della tarma. Scura, con il rosso riflesso di un ricordo straziante... Ma tu sei colui di fronte al quale non avrei più il diritto di essere triste."
Well, this was NOT for me. My book club discussed this last night, but couldn't really participate in the discussion of the novel. I could barely read two pages without looking for the exits (so to speak). So I supplied biographical information I learned from reading the Judith Thurman biography of Colette.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
The perfect image of the Paris life in the 20s, a feminist narrative at its most sincere revelation, not necessarily ending in a self-destruction tragedy, instead, a surrender to the 'gloomy gymnastics of solitary' or to the 'horribly alone and free 'state of mind as the author writes. An attempt, a desire which reveals itself in the same form even today, six decades later.
Jennie Rogers
*everybody's got to learn sometime by beck plays*

Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
La novela es de 1910, la narradora, una dramática, el lenguaje, muchas veces rimbombante. Pero, al mismo tiempo, contiene muchos pensamientos lúcidos y una decisión muy moderna para la época.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: otros
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
classic reverie
I had heard of Colette's Gigi but had not thought about reading her works until after reading my last novel by Dekobra's The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars in the afterword states the following. "Dekobra interviewed the French novelist Colette, just after she wrote The Vagabond (1910), a story about an independent, divorced, music hall artist, a heroine anyone would call a self empowered female. When Dekobra asked Colette if she was a feminist, Colette replied, 'Me, a feminist? You're kidding!' Sh ...more
Cameron Van Sant
Such a fun book. A trip into the life of a small actress/mime in turn of the 20th century France.

The narrator lushly describes the Parisian theater life and contemplates how to move on from a terrible marriage.

The ending took me by surprise but I appreciated it a lot.
I think it's a pretty feminist book--I wouldn't say that about all of Colette's writings, but definitely this one. Give it a shot!
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like this book quite as much as Cheri & The Last of Cheri, but I still really enjoyed it. I loved the descriptions of stage performances and theater travel and I liked the musings on the competition between romantic relationships and professional freedom. But here, I found Renée somewhat tiresome in her overall distrust of passionate feelings. I wanted more exuberance from her about her theatrical work and her professional career. I was never sure that I entirely understood the love ...more
Mar 01, 2010 rated it liked it
I liked the feminism of the book, but sometimes it was just a bit too wordy. I liked the ending and I was impressed with Renee. After reading Colette's biography, I expected her to be a staunchly independent and promiscuous woman, but Renee in the book was not that exactly. I like how she was not just one thing, she had duality and was a full person--not just a woman who was independant, but a woman was was independant but also felt things for men and had to decide what was best for her.
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

This book was really boring. I had to convince myself to finish it since it's a required reading. I like the ultimate end of this book but the characters (especially Maxime) were very frustrating. I understand the theme and the message of the book but I was too upset to enjoy it.
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Colette was the pen name of the French novelist and actress Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. She is best known, at least in the English-speaking world, for her novella Gigi, which provided the plot for a famous Lerner & Loewe musical film and stage musical. She started her writing career penning the influential Claudine novels of books. The novel Chéri is often cited as her masterpiece.
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“I want nothing from love, in short, but love.” 78 likes
“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.” 55 likes
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