The Vagabond by Sidonie Gabrielle Colette
The Vagabond, written by Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, is a story of romance set in turn-of-the-century Paris and several provincial towns. The novel was published in France in 1911 and later published in 1955 for the English audience. The Vagabond is recognized as one of Colette's best-known pre-war work, her post-war works being better known. The novel definitely sits high on history's literary shelf. Using such elements as style, technique, theme, an uncomplicated theme and supernumerary characters, Colette dramatizes the life of her Parisian heroine, thus creating a masterpiece of literary history.
Divorced after eight years of her husband's faithlessness and cruelty, Renee Nere has been struggling to support herself as a music-hall performer for the past three years. The first part of the three parts of the book opens as she waits in her dressing room until it is time for her to perform. She checks her make-up in the mirror that she hates to face, then goes off to perform, no longer and anxious, but confident and controlled ().
In this first section of the novel, Renee's life as an artist is delineated: her work as a dancer, her casual relations with her fellow performers, the small apartment that she shares with her maid, Blandine, and her dog Fossett, and her introduction to Maxime Dufferein-Chautel. Maxime presents himself at her dressing-room door one evening, and Renee dismisses him as an awkward intruder, charming and respectful as he seems to be. She more formally meets him again after a private engagement arranged by his brother. Night after night, Renee's admirer watches her from the front row and patiently waits for her ().
With her old friend Hamond acting as...
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...rely understandable work of fiction. The significance of her heroine's life is not expressed as a universal truth about the lives of all women, but Colette does appear to suggest that women do well to examine closely their morals and motivations, and those of men as well. It is important to recognize the theme and all of its components and sidelights so that the novel may be fully grasped and read for its true meaning, rather than its external interpretation.
Colette, Sidonie Gabrielle. The Vagabond. New York: Farrar, Straus, and
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Marks, Elaine. Colette. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1960. 3-22.
Strand, Dana. Colette: A Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne
Publishers, 1995. 112-114.