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Rage and fire : a life of Louise Colet, pioneer feminist, literary star, Flaubert's muse

Author: Francine du Plessix Gray
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, ©1994.
Edition/Format:   Book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
In this ground-breaking biography of a heroic feminist and literary figure, novelist and essayist Francine du Plessix Gray brilliantly resurrects one of the most fascinating women of the nineteenth century.
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Genre/Form: Biography
History
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Gray, Francine du Plessix.
Rage and fire.
New York : Simon & Schuster, c1994
(OCoLC)622655694
Named Person: Louise Colet; Gustave Flaubert; Louise Colet; Gustave Flaubert
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Francine du Plessix Gray
ISBN: 0671742388 9780671742386
OCLC Number: 29220699
Description: 432 p. : ill., ports. ; 24 cm.
Responsibility: Francine du Plessix Gray.

Abstract:

In this ground-breaking biography of a heroic feminist and literary figure, novelist and essayist Francine du Plessix Gray brilliantly resurrects one of the most fascinating women of the nineteenth century.

To English-language readers, the flamboyant and beautiful Louise Colet (1810-1876) is best known as Gustave Flaubert's great love; as a central model for Emma Bovary; and as the recipient of Flaubert's most treasured letters, a voluminous six-year correspondence that offers his most eloquent statements on literature and an invaluable chronicle of Madame Bovary's composition.

What is less known about Louise Colet is that at the apogee of her career she was, along with George Sand, one of the most famous women writers in France, a prolific author equally fluent in poetry, fiction, historical essays, and journalism. Known as "the Muse," Colet presided over a renowned salon of mid-nineteenth-century Paris.

At age twenty-nine she won the poetry prize of the Academie Francaise, and she went on to receive the prize three more times in the next fourteen years, more often than any other woman in French history. The confidante of Madame Recamier, Victor Hugo, and Leconte de Lisle and a lover of Alfred de Vigny and Alfred de Musset, this self-supporting single mother refused to share her home with a man lest it compromise the principle of liberty she lived by.

In her work, Louise Colet was one of the first nineteenth-century authors to explore the historical causes of female alienation; in her private life, she pioneered a new model of womanhood in an age when the only sanctioned options for women were "housewife or whore.".

Drawing from Colet's recently discovered journals, which, like Flaubert's letters, can be startlingly erotic, Gray vividly brings to life this formidable woman's world and unmasks the astonishing sexual and social mores of nineteenth-century France.

Written in a novelistic, richly detailed style but researched with meticulous scholarship, this biography portrays the complexities of a woman who ascended to fame and literary respectability through her talent and a willful spirit that refused to acknowledge the word "no."

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