Back in the day (well, the 1980s…) I stumbled across the French author, Violette Leduc. She was a name I’d never heard before at the time, but the book I discovered had an introduction by Simone de Beauvoir, which meant I was instantly interested. I investigated, ending up with the pile of rather tatty volumes you can see in the image, gathered from jumble sales and second-hand shops, and found that Leduc was certainly a very individual author…

Her works were considered controversial at the time, dealing frankly with female sexuality and desire (for both the sexes) and I recall them as being shot through with a kind of self-hate, as if Leduc was not happy in that prison of her own skin… And the covers were often lurid, as if to warn the reader of the kind of thing they were going to read:

Well, it’s a long, long time since I read Leduc – though it’s interesting that I’ve held onto the books all these years – and I did feel that she’d become a forgotten author. However, Penguin seem to be trying to put that to rights, and they’ve issued a beautiful new edition of a slim work by her, “The Lady and the Little Fox Fur”. You can see it on top of the pile above, and this is its lovely cover (it’s part of the new Penguin European Writers series):

I was pleased to read this for Shiny New Books and revisit this lost author – you can read my review here, and I think I might well be giving those tatty old volumes some fresh interest. Thirty years on, I wonder whether my views on Leduc and her work will have changed? 🙂

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