Read Earthly Paradise by Colette Online


The place of Colette among twentieth-century French writers of fiction is comparable to that of Proust. But Colette's high and certain rank in literature is determined equally by her autobiographical writings as by her novels: the imaginary characters of Cheri, Gigi, Claudine, et al. can only rival, but not excel, Colette's portraits of her family and her extraordinary friThe place of Colette among twentieth-century French writers of fiction is comparable to that of Proust. But Colette's high and certain rank in literature is determined equally by her autobiographical writings as by her novels: the imaginary characters of Cheri, Gigi, Claudine, et al. can only rival, but not excel, Colette's portraits of her family and her extraordinary friends and acquaintances, from Proust himself, younger than she, to Maurice Ravel, her collaborator for the opera L'Enfant et les Sortileges.Drawn from some forty books of her non-fiction, Earthly Paradise may be described as the autobiography of her myth. It is a vivid, year-by-year revelation of a long, eager, courageous life; it is an extraordinary personal history containing scandals, marriages, motherhood, two world wars, abounding friendships; and it is a narration of the manifold stresses of a profoundly ambivalent nature. Her chronicles are tempered with suffering, self-control, work, discipline, and, above all, joy of life. "Look!" she once advised a young writer, "look for a long time at what pleases you, and longer still at what pains you..."Colette believed that to be born sentient and watchful is a miracle, and that the earthly paradise around us is as awesome an index to heaven as we shall probably know. For Colette, there was always something worth looking at--whether the petals of an orchid, or the way Sarah Bernhart poured coffee, or her own heartbreak. This lifetime pantheistic homage was not so much a "message" as her own form of daily prayer. Colette seems destined to become one of those rare writers whose literary achievement is something grander: a personal myth incarnating a point of view in human culture....

Title : Earthly Paradise
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140038514
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 512 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Earthly Paradise Reviews

  • Erik
    2018-12-14 05:38

    I checked this book out from the school library which still uses those cards attached to the back cover stamped with due dates. I like seeing the history. Above mine, only two: DEC 05 1995. JUN 12 1992. A forgotten author. On Goodreads, barely 100 ratings.It's a strange, wonderful book. There's a lot in it. I love the World War II entries. The final Blue Lantern section. Sido and childhood. The descriptions of nature, flowers, the seasons, food. And the portraits, she gives a beautiful one of Proust. At the end of a dinner party:Our host stood listening to me, in front of the Ritz colonnade. The silence of the night, and the mist cutting off our view of the square, surrounded Proust with a halo exactly suited to his decline and his prestige. With his top hat pushed back, a great lock of hair covering his brow, ceremonious and disheveled, he looked like a young and drunken wedding guest. The stifled light emerging from the entrance hall, and a white, theatrical reflection striking up from the cracked shirt front, highlighted his chin and the curving lines of his eyebrows. He greatly enjoyed my little barefoot-beggar-girl story, and when he exclaimed: "No, really, do you?" a smile I could not describe, a sort of youthful astonishment, remodeled all his features. As we finally took our leave of him, he stepped back, waved goodbye with one hand, and the darkness once more hollowed out the deep sockets of his eyes and filled with ashes the black oval of his mouth, gaping in its quest for air.Great.

  • Arwen
    2018-11-27 06:14

    This is one of those books I turn to when I'm out of sorts, to take comfort in Colette's deceptively simple essays about growing up in the countryside in France and the twists and turns her life took after. I'm fondest of the early part, as she writes ode after ode to her mother, a passionate gardener and amateur naturalist, peeling apart the layers of complexity she came to recognize as she grew up. Colette combines an exquisite sense of the natural world with a sometimes cruel, sometimes kind view of human nature. You come away seeing with clearer eyes of your own.

  • Rob
    2018-11-22 23:15

    (10/10) Far more than the memoirs of a half-remembered author, Earthly Paradise is a collection of memories and experiences that speak to every part of life with both sensual and intellectual brilliance. There's an erotic undercurrent to the most innocent of memories, supplied by Colette's lush prose and teasing hints as to the scandals of her life. And there's no shortage of witticisms, some of which I actually laughed at.If you're interested in reading an autobiographical modernist narrative that deals with issues of memory and eroticism, I would reccomend Colette over Proust any day of the week. It's a couple thousand pages shorter, much more readable, and a lot kinder to everyone involved. Or maybe it's just the lack of dinner parties I prefer.I came to this book via Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, and only belatedly realized that it's in part a compilation of Colette's various autobiographical works. I'm really interested in reading all of the books it draws on now, as well as Colette's fiction. So like any great book, this one just leads me to countless more books. Not that I'm complaining.

  • Andrea
    2018-11-17 23:41

    Arwen and I met a boy named Boris on a train from the coast of Greece into Athens. Boris was a handsome, rakish kind of a lad, and he smoked a cigarette and traveled up and down the train talking to everyone on it. He asked Arwen what she was reading and she was reading Proust. She'd brought Proust on the trip because he was so heavy and chock full that one couldn't possibly finish him even on a six-week trip, so she'd only have to bring the one book. Boris told us that his father had been reading Proust his entire life. When he finished, he'd just open it up at the beginning and read it again.I haven't gotten into Proust in the same way, perhaps just because he's a man. I know I've loved the few pages I've read and I want to read more. For me, though, the touchstone would have to be Earthly Paradise. I love the way Colette writes in this, in a friendly everyday manner, and I think that the focus on the quotidian helps me remember that the small things are the Tale (which may, after all, just be: you lived).

  • Rachel
    2018-11-27 02:27

    I admit I only read this because it features in Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. Disappointed there's virtually no lesbianism to be found within this 500+ tome - Amalia X on pg 397 is the only mention of dykery. Colette does write well, though, which makes it an enjoyable read.

  • Debbie Hoskins
    2018-11-19 03:23

    I'm going back about 30 years. I'm pretty sure this is the book. I remember the cover. Colette had a fascinating life and I was inspired by it in my early 20's.

  • Venessa
    2018-12-10 22:26

    I've only ever read Colette's short fiction before but have always thought she was a terrific writer and I adored this "autobiography." Essays within not only told about parts of her life, but also include observations on humanity and delightful meditations on such things as wine, cheese, gardening, and other activities I thoroughly enjoy. I have "Night without sleep" marked in the book so that I can return to it over and over again on the moments I'm not feeling especially cynical about love, as it is a beautiful passage: Cherie, Amanda - the two of you will especially enjoy it, I think.

  • LauraYan
    2018-12-13 23:18

    Colette's writing is simply exquisite. As are her insights on life, love, sex, theater, flowers, animals, and of course, the incomparable Sido. This is a lesson in the beauty of observation, in poetic prose, in noticing and capturing what's so often overlooked. This is a book to be savored slowly, for the pleasure of language and of reading.

  • Carol Peters
    2018-12-11 01:41

    An assembly of Colette's non-novel writings, Phelps has done a fine job, the best parts are divine, the worst still worth reading. I thoroughly enjoyed this & suspect I'll be back reading Cheri before long.

  • Dan
    2018-11-21 01:25

    Interesting, intelligent and courageous woman. I would expect that women readers will enjoy this more than the rest of us. Fourth star is for women readers, surely the majority.

  • Elan Durham
    2018-11-23 01:42

    A most lyrical collection of musings by one of France's most admired prose stylists.

  • K.
    2018-12-03 05:33


  • Anca
    2018-11-14 02:17

    Loved it ! What a beautiful, beautiful book. Descriptions like no other.

  • Cherie
    2018-11-29 02:33

    A Lovely memoir of Colette; this autobio is an examination of Colette's life. Absolutely beautiful; delicious language. I greatly enjoyed this book

  • emm
    2018-12-04 02:19

    A must-read for Colette-freaks, like myself.

  • Jbondandrews
    2018-11-19 01:36

    Wonderfully written excepts of Colette's life. Her descriptions of her mother are wonderful.