Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Girl With The Jadeite Teeth

Fig. 1. Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette in a publicity still for Rêve d'Égypte, 1907 (Moulin Rouge)

‘One aspect of Colette’s life is how modern it sounds to today’s reader. She ate sushi at the turn of the century, had a facelift in the 1920s, hired an acupuncturist, kept her wild hair permed all her life, rejected religion, flouted most of society’s rules – and ate with such relish and so little guilt that she ended up weighing 180 pounds. (Once, recovering from food poisoning, Colette soothed her stomach by downing a stuffed cabbage and a currant tart.) She announced that slimness was dangerously “masculinizing” women. She loved perfumes and sprayed each room with a different scent, attuned to its décor. She was one of the first serious writers to turn to the silent movies and devise scenarios that were neither novelistic nor theatrical but purely cinematic. She was obviously open to anything and everything; once when she had some painful dental work she asked, “Why can’t one simply have one’s teeth pulled and replace them with green jade?”’

Edmund White (The Flâneur)

Addendum: Dogs Are Human, Cats Are Gods*

Fig. 2. Full-length studio portrait of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, c. 1885

'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.' (S-GC)

Fig. 3. Réunion de famille au chalet des Sapins (Colette au premier plan à gauche)

'I love my past. I love my present. I'm not ashamed of what I've had, and I'm not sad because I have it no longer.' (S-GC)

Fig. 4. Walter Limot - The Hand of Colette, 1934

'The writer who loses his self-doubt, who gives way as he grows old to a sudden euphoria, to prolixity, should stop writing immediately: the time has come for him to lay aside his pen.' (S-GC)

Fig. 5. Ammi Phillips - Girl in Red Dress with Cat and Dog, 1830-1835

'Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.' (S-GC)

Fig. 6. Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

'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.' (S-GC)

Fig. 7. Colette receives the Gold Medal of Paris from René Moatti, 1953

'What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner.' (S-GC)

* 'Dogs believe they are human. Cats believe they are God.' (S-GC)