french authors

ici repose colette

I went to the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris specifically to visit Colette and Proust. Colette is very dear to me — a little over a year ago one of my favourite teachers brought her book of collected short stories to me when I was in the hospital. “Bring me a quick-writing pen,” I told her when she asked, “and something very beautiful to read.” I read the book in a one-night rush, but carried it with me everywhere for days even after I finished, taking it to group therapy and appointments with my shrink until it was as much a comfort-object as the stuffed rabbit that another teacher brought me. Colette served as a bonder between one of the nurses and I: “Oh!” he said when he saw the book. “Colette! I used to read her when I was in school, but it’s been years. May I look at it? I’ve never seen anyone bring Colette to the hospital before.” He read one of the very short stories out loud to me one night when I was between roommates and couldn’t sleep. He didn’t do it as well as my teacher — who is a master at voices — does, but I often look back at that story and think of his rough voice mispronouncing the French names.


My next-door-dorm-neighbour, not knowing any of this, told me a few weeks ago that she always thinks of me as “Colette” — which is vaguely similar to my also-French real name — and since then that’s how she greets me in the halls — “How is Colette today?” I like it, but feel a bit deceitful for allowing the nickname to persist: I am so clearly not a Colette. Surely, if I am going to be called after a French author, it should be Proust? Some days I think it’s only lack of money and energy that keep me from lining my bedroom with cork and staying there for the rest of my life, writing obsessively by night and sleeping by day and rarely emerging to see anyone.

When I started this post I intended to simply say that, while procrastinating Adam Bede, I went through and uploaded a few more of my Europe photos.


~ by Not Alice on March 19, 2007.

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