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The Vagabond Paperback – September 5, 2001


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The Vagabond + The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France - 1885 to World War I
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2nd edition (September 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374528047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374528041
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The paradoxes of great literature are those of human nature, and Colette is nothing if not human . . . Accessible and elusive; greedy and austere; courageous and timid; subversive and complacent; scorchingly honest and sublimely mendacious; an inspired consoler and an existential pessimist--these are the qualities of the artist and the woman. Its is time to rediscover them." --From the Introduction

"The Vagabond, one of the first and best feminist novels ever written, is that rare thing: a great book which is also inspiring." --Erica Jong

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
What a poetic, beautiful, and amazing writer she was.
Stacy
The most amazing fact of this novel was that it was written in the dressing rooms of the music hall, and on tour too.
clarie
This was the first book I ever read by the inimitable Colette.
M. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Susan J. Bybee on February 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Colette's beginning as a writer is one of the strangest in literature. In her early 20s, she married a no-talent hack named "Willy" (that was how he signed his pieces) and wrote a series of novels about a young girl named Claudine. Willy took these pieces and published them under his pen name, giving his young wife no credit.

In her early to mid 30s, Colette grew weary of Willy, and turned her back on him to embark on a career as a dance hall performer. This is the setting for THE VAGABOND, Colette's first post-Willy novel, and the first to bear her own name.

The main character, Renee Nere, has been touring for 3 years, and although she's sometimes lonely, is enjoying her freedom and self-sufficiency. She's also suffering from what we'd refer to nowadays as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Her marriage to her philandering and abusive husband was so wretched, that when she meets another man who loves her, the slighest familiar gesture or word will trigger memories that incite revulsion.

THE VAGABOND is a gem of a novel that beautifully shows off Colette's gift for prose as well as her wonderful descriptions of life backstage as part of a touring group. If that isn't enough, she is also very gifted at revealing the psychological insights of her character. The introduction by Judith Thurman is well-done, and both the introduction and the novel left me wanting more Colette.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Gigi may be the best known of her works, but 'The Vagabond' stands out in pure beauty from the rest. The plot (an actress on the stage who faces public scorn and problems in love) seems to be most autobiographical, and narrator and main character, Renee Nere, is a delight. Both beautiful and painful in spots, this book deserves to be read, as well as its sequel, 'The Shackle.'
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Colette M. Shaw on August 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Vagabond was my first delicious introduction to Colette, and the first book to make me weep openly. I related strongly to Renée, a professional woman who clung desperately to her independence while falling hopelessly for a man who relentlessly tugged at her vulnerability. Renée's confusion about whether love and happiness could coexist kept me captive in suspense until the very last (and infinitely satisfying) page.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Colette's Renee Nere is complex, her name alone tells us that (the last name is the first name spelled backwards, not to mentioned that Renee means "reborn"). This female protagonist would certainly fit in with the modern notion of being female, and in the early 20th century, this was not only rare, but not very-well understood. I adore this book because of the way it encourages women (by example) to carve out their own existence and not to rely upon men for security. It is also wonderfully written. However, you'll be in for a shocker if you read the sequel, "The Shackle".
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stacy on August 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
This was my first reading of Colette. What a poetic, beautiful, and amazing writer she was. In this novel, we meet a woman who is definitely revolutionary for her time and ours. Colette is aware of the sorrow and happiness that are intertwined in life. The main character's life follows a path that has much loneliness and doubt, but she, most importantly, has her will. This is truly a feminist classic. What I admire most is the courage to write such a work and to write it so well. The language is intoxicating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By clarie on January 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
a review of Colette's The Vagabond

The opening of the story in the dressrooms of the music hall smell like rancid grease paint, dust, sweat of performers. There's only few people you can relate to, since everyone comes & goes in the music hall, so why make friends?

But the music hall is good place for Renee Nere, a pantomime, who performs half nude in see-through silks, and gets slammed to ground on purpose by her mentor, Brague, who treats her like an amateur: but this a joke between them. Renee is no amateur. At 33 she can out perform anyone

"You get use to not eating, a toothache . . . . but you cannot get used to jealousy." is the way Renee describes her high profile marriage to Adolphe Taillandy, and his many, many mistresses. A marriage ends in divorce when Renee can no longer take it. Divorce from a wealthy man was unheard of in 1910.

Renee, the vagabond, loves the music hall in her own way, even though she hates the dust, the animal abuse, the low-class crowd. But she will never have to deal with Adolphe Taillandy again. She also endures the touring which means terrible food, discomfort, bad hours. It mends her broken life and heart, or gives her a chance to avoid it.

A rich suitor arrives and Renee doesn't want to get involved. She becomes emotionally involve, but then goes on tour, and tries to forget him. She's a vagabond now and she doesn't want to get tied up.

Colette was a master of the word written by a woman, from a woman's heart. She knew how to move from one scene to another and astonish the reader. The most amazing fact of this novel was that it was written in the dressing rooms of the music hall, and on tour too.
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