Marcelle Sauvageot - a narrative, hovering between the genres of memoir, theory, and fiction, told by a dying woman whose abandonment by a lover precipitates a complex and moving investigation into suffering, solitude, friendship, and the nature of romantic and sexual love
Marcelle Sauvageot, Commentary. Trans. by Christine Schwartz Hartley, Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013.
Commentary is a narrative—hovering between the genres of memoir, theory, and fiction—told by a dying woman whose abandonment by a lover precipitates a complex and moving investigation into suffering, solitude, friendship, and the nature of romantic and sexual love. Sauvageot died of tuberculosis, after several stints in sanatoriums, at the age of 34. Commentaire was highly praised in its time by Paul Claudel, Paul Valéry, André Gide, Charles Du Bos, René Crevel and Clara Malraux.
This edition is translated by Christine Schwartz-Hartley (African Psycho) and Anna Moschovakis (The Jokers, The Possession), with a new introduction by Jennifer Moxley. It also includes translations of a foreword and note by Charles du Bos and an essay by Jean Mouton, all from previous French editions of the book.
[from the introduction]
Though eighty years have passed since its initial appearance, Commentary is a tale that still needs to be told. Though we may flatter ourselves into believing that we conduct our love affairs more maturely than did the barbarous moderns, even in these “enlightened” times readers will discover that Sauvageot’s unsparing honesty about sexual love can still provoke deep recognition. —JENNIFER MOXLEY
As I write these lines, I can hear, on the terrace next to mine, a group of young and pretty women conversing with animation and good cheer. I cannot understand what they are saying; but I can clearly make out, as a constant and frequent refrain, “my husband”; when I come across them during a walk or at lunch, if I catch a few words of their conversation, these words are always: “my husband.” Is it really necessary to become like this, and can a woman not think except with the husband’s ideas? This might make you smile, lead you to think that resentment has made me sarcastic. But I am so bored with all these women who talk about their husbands!