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Rage and Fire: A Life of Louise Colet, Pioneer Feminist, Literary Star, Flaubert's Muse

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In this ground-breaking biography of a heroic feminist and literary figure, the author of Lovers and Tyrants and Adam & Eve and the City vividly resurrencts one of the most fascinating women of the 19th century. Line art.


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In this ground-breaking biography of a heroic feminist and literary figure, the author of Lovers and Tyrants and Adam & Eve and the City vividly resurrencts one of the most fascinating women of the 19th century. Line art.

45 review for Rage and Fire: A Life of Louise Colet, Pioneer Feminist, Literary Star, Flaubert's Muse

  1. 5 out of 5

    Deanna Shelor

    Read this book after having read all the letters and diaries of both Flaubert and Louise Colet (those that survived , anyway). The result was a startling discovery about the source material for Madame Bovary and the possible realization that Louise Colet may have actually written or at least guided Flaubert in the writing of the book. Colet being an already established writer when the unknown Flaubert met her bears this out as does his need to burn her letters that were written to him during the Read this book after having read all the letters and diaries of both Flaubert and Louise Colet (those that survived , anyway). The result was a startling discovery about the source material for Madame Bovary and the possible realization that Louise Colet may have actually written or at least guided Flaubert in the writing of the book. Colet being an already established writer when the unknown Flaubert met her bears this out as does his need to burn her letters that were written to him during the period of the writing. I used this and other information for my Honors thesis as an undergrad.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pascale

    This is an excellent biography, although more flat-footed than Gray's life of Madame de Staël. This one suffers from being padded with far too many quotations. Gray treats us to an overabundance of evidence testifying to Colet's violent temper, her verbose style in both prose and verse, and the vitriolic hatred of women present in most nineteenth-century males, even among the most sophisticated intellectuals and progressive thinkers. This minor quibble aside, this book has the great merit of giv This is an excellent biography, although more flat-footed than Gray's life of Madame de Staël. This one suffers from being padded with far too many quotations. Gray treats us to an overabundance of evidence testifying to Colet's violent temper, her verbose style in both prose and verse, and the vitriolic hatred of women present in most nineteenth-century males, even among the most sophisticated intellectuals and progressive thinkers. This minor quibble aside, this book has the great merit of giving all the relevant information for readers unfamiliar with French nineteenth-century history and culture, while not dumbing it down for readers who have more background in the filed. Gray gives a nuanced portrait of Colet, who seems to have been a woman of great integrity and occasionally physical courage. Born in Aix-en-Provence, Colet, who was entirely self-taught, took Paris by storm when she received first prize from the Académie Française in 1839 for her poem on the Museum of Versailles. Of course, she was immediately accused of having slept around to secure the prize, an accusation Gray deems completely unfounded. In fact, although Colet went on to have affairs with many famous men of letters over the years (Victor Cousin, Alfred de Musset, Alfred de Vigny among others), it seems fairly obvious that she never entered into a relationship with ulterior motives. On the contrary, she helped many people, including financially, even when she was nearly destitute herself, which was often the case throughout her life. After the death of her rather pathetic husband Hippolyte Colet, she repeatedly turned down Cousin, who would have made life much easier for her. Hot-tempered and over-sensitive she most certainly was, but men who had a platonic relationship with her (Chateaubriand, Hugo, Béranger) remained devoted to her through thick and thin. Her virulent anti-clerical opinions nearly got her killed by a mob in Italy once, but she didn't back down. She was in Istanbul when the Second Empire fell, and hurried back to France to give rousing speeches to crowds demoralized by the German victory. Whatever one thinks of the Commune, Colet's wholehearted but not uncritical support of it, and her passionate denunciation of the savagery of its repression, can only arouse admiration. Although I have no first-hand knowledge of Colet's œuvre, it seems to me that Gray's assessment of her strengths and weaknesses as a writer is fair and balanced. Like many nineteenth-century women of letters on both sides of the Atlantic, Colet wrote too fast and too much, impelled by the necessity to make money. Would she have left more memorable works if she had been less proud, and accepted more hand-outs from friends and from the government? Maybe not. The kind of oratory she had a gift for is badly dated. But even if her florid brand of Romanticism hasn't stood the test of time, she was quite somebody and deserves to be better known. Gray wants us to realize that Colet was far more than the recipient of Flaubert's most detailed accounts of his progress on "Madame Bovary", and she is dead right.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lindegard

    Gray makes the world of 19th century French literature come alive in this engrossing story of a writer and poet who won the admiration (for her work) of many famous authors of the time. Colet seems to have had a knack for "putting her foot in it" many times throughout her life, resulting in missed opportunities at both the personal and professional level. Much of her writing may not have withstood the test of time, but the journalism of her later years is fierce, unflinching, and vivid. Gray is Gray makes the world of 19th century French literature come alive in this engrossing story of a writer and poet who won the admiration (for her work) of many famous authors of the time. Colet seems to have had a knack for "putting her foot in it" many times throughout her life, resulting in missed opportunities at both the personal and professional level. Much of her writing may not have withstood the test of time, but the journalism of her later years is fierce, unflinching, and vivid. Gray is a wonderful researcher and writer, with an honest regard for this pioneering feminist and award-winning poet. Flaubert, though a genius, does not fare so well in Gray's depiction of his weak, misogynistic character.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ludwina Degryse

    Quelle femme! Bewust alleenstaande moeder in 1860: "Ik ben me er heel goed van bewust dat mijn stipendium misschien geheel wordt ingetrokken maar zal ik u eens wat zeggen? Ik walg van leugens! Ik moet mijn stem verheffen, heel luid, tegen alles wat mijn geweten bezwaart." Quelle femme! Bewust alleenstaande moeder in 1860: "Ik ben me er heel goed van bewust dat mijn stipendium misschien geheel wordt ingetrokken maar zal ik u eens wat zeggen? Ik walg van leugens! Ik moet mijn stem verheffen, heel luid, tegen alles wat mijn geweten bezwaart."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lance Grabmiller

    The life was inspiring but the writing left me a bit cold.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Judah

    interesting lady

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    Gerda

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    Sally Anne

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    Sue

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    Layla Johnston

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    Elf Ahearn

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    Alicatte

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    Kathleen Ianziti

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    Egon Lass

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    Susannah

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    Jennifer

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    Sandra Michaan

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    Faythe

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    Joost Perreijn

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    Summer Holmes

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    Suzanne

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    Sharon

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    Vintagebooklvr

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    Kerri Foley

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    Satunge

  45. 5 out of 5

    Jen

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