A Rave Review from 1904: Celebrating Colette’s Birthday

Today marks the anniversary of Colette’s birthday so I thought I would celebrate by sharing this enthusiastic 1904 review of her work I stumbled across some time ago.

In the early 1900’s Colette and her then husband Willy were much talked about figures in the press. The Claudine series, which appeared under Willy’s name, had been a huge, commercial succes. Journalists loved the fact that these scandalous novels cleverly blurred the lines between fiction and autobiography. The books made Willy and Colette literary stars -although not always taken seriously by the literary establishment – as well as regular features of the gossip columns.

However, Colette’s first solo authored book was Dialogues des bêtes (1904). In these stories her beloved pets do the talking. As a slightly obsessive cat lover, I have always had a weak spot for both Colette and this book. The dialogues convey not only Colette’s subtle sense of humour, but also her great love of animals. Critics in 1904 felt the same. In fact, the book marked an important turning point in Colette’s literary career. Over the years she would  become one of France’s most successful authors and journalists.  Dialogues des bêtes received mostly rave reviews when it appeared such as here in La Revue illustrée from 15 May 1904 accompanied by a wonderful photograph of the author (Source: BnF/Gallica)

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‘Mme Colette Willy vient d’écrire un petit chef d’oeuvre’ (Mme Colette Willy has written a small masterpiece), the reviewer writes.

What better way to celebrate Colette’s birthday than to celebrate her work?

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