Synopses & Reviews
Colette herself considered The Pure and the Impure her best book, "the nearest I shall ever come to writing an autobiography." This guided tour of the erotic netherworld with which Colette was so intimately acquainted begins in the darkness and languor of a fashionable opium den. It continues as a series of unforgettable encounters with men and, especially, women whose lives have been improbably and yet permanently transfigured by the strange power of desire. Lucid and lyrical, The Pure and the Impure stands out as one of modern literature's subtlest reckonings not only with the varieties of sexual experience, but with the always unlikely nature of love.
"Faced with [The Pure and the Impure's] perfect, lapidary and truth-bearing sentences, one's only appropriate response is to fall to one's knees and surrender." Terry Castle, London Review of Books
"Colette has always seemed to me the most authentic feminist heroine of all women writers." Erica Jong
"[The Pure and the Impure] is redolent with exploits from the era when Colette, the 'truth seeker,' was coming into her own, both as a writer and as a sexual explorer, spelunking in the dark recesses of the French underworld."
Elissa Schappell, Bookforum
About the Author
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette [1873-1954], one of the greatest French writers of the twentieth-century, was born in the French countryside, where she led a childhood that she always described as idyllic. At 20 she moved to Paris with her new husband Willy, a notorious journalist and man about town, and published, under his name, the celebrated Claudine novels. Among her most celebrated books are Cheri and The End of Cherie, The Vagabond, and The Cat. On her death Colette received a state funeral the first ever accorded to a woman by the French Republic.