Mad in Pursuit

Mad in Pursuit

4.28 (67 ratings by Goodreads)
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Product details

  • Hardback | 351 pages
  • 140 x 220mm | 788g
  • HarperCollins Distribution Services
  • United Kingdom
  • 0246640472
  • 9780246640475

Review Text

A memoir by Violette Leduc is always exhilarating, always exhausting. Garrulously self-caressing or hysterically self-critical (think of the bracing titles of her other works: L'Asphyxie, L'Affame, La Batarde), a chaos of subjectivity "billowing memories," Violette Leduc inescapably reminds one of Baudelaire's famous mot: Victor Hugo has a monologue with himself and calls it a conversation. Here, fresh from the provinces, a forty-year-old waif (she stays forty for many years) skimming along through the literary paths of post-war Paris, Violette meets Simone de Beauvoir, the little Beaver of the Cafe de Flore, with her fur coat and husky voice and "limitless good will," and Jean Genet, so tough, so pale, "as sensitive as an aspen leaf." She stands in awe of Jean Cocteau, especially his nose: "His nose freed me from the tyranny of my own. . . it helped me to understand the frivolity of my messy and disordered laments about the ugliness of my face." And also of Sartre, another dreadnought: "In twenty-two years, Sartre has talked to me for a maximum of ten minutes." She makes a fool of herself in front of Nathalie Sarraute: "I went back to my black den and thirsted for her there." How she struggles, how she perseveres! "I have no shame. I'd be ashamed to be ashamed. Shame would be too late anyway; I've bought my ticket: destination fascination." Heavens, it sounds like a pop tune, but it's really Violette's way of saying she's fallen for Jacques, as she will later fall for Colette Audry, as she once fell for Gabriel or Hermine. Man or woman, qu'importe? Violette Leduc is nuzzling everyone and everywhere, in fact or fancy. She makes a film with Jean Genet. "I think I am acting well because I am remembering the jerky movements Charlie Chaplin always made in his films." And these jerky movements are the essence of Violette's style. Mad in Pursuit, however, is just a bit too maddening a cavalcade of a starry-eyed would-be superstar who surely shone to much better advantage in earlier efforts. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

67 ratings
4.28 out of 5 stars
5 51% (34)
4 30% (20)
3 16% (11)
2 3% (2)
1 0% (0)
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