There’s inevitably a bit of a buzz around the wonderful French author Colette at the moment, thanks to the recent film of her life (I’m still a bit conflicted about whether I want to see it or not). However, a lovely series of posts by Madame Bibi Lophile, who had a joyous week of reading Colette, led to me threatening to share images of my Colette collection here – yes, more gratuitous pictures of books!! I have actually done a little post on some of my Colette books before, but I thought I’d do an updated one anyway as Madame B seemed more than keen that I should do so. Ever happy to oblige, so here we go with more images from my Colette collection – be warned that this *will* be a fairly long post as I have a lot….

First up, I was going to share them in situ, but they’re sort of double shelved, and my pretty Penguins are for some reason at the back – so these are they before I took them down to photo!

And here is the whole shebang – my Colette collection, spread out on the spare bed and requiring two rows to show them all…

Gulp… Where to begin? Probably with the core of my collection, the fiction.

A good part of these consists of the pretty Penguins I first collected and read back in the early 1980s. This is when I first discovered Colette’s work, after reading about her in the “Literary Women” book. I created my own personal canon of women writers I wanted to explore, and Colette was one who absolutely consumed me. I think the Penguins came out in the 1970s and they have such lovely cover designs that I collected all I could find – as you can see, they’re most striking:

Of course, not all of her books were available in this imprint, and I’ve collected a number of other editions over the years:

The Collected Stories is falling to bits, but I read it a decade or so ago and it was a revelatory experience, really – I hadn’t revisited Colette for some years at the time and the collection was shockingly good and reminder of just what an incredible writer she was. And yes – there are another two sets of the Claudine books there. I don’t *need* them but I can’t bear to get rid of them. Some books you need to have three sets of. And there’s my Virago Colette plus some newer Penguin versions. Despite the fact I love my older books, some of them have got a bit fragile, and also the type is quite small, so having a newer, bigger Penguin to re-read is a useful thing! 😀

Shall we move on to the first Colette book I ever read? Yes, let’s – it was “Break of Day”:

This is mature Colette, contemplating a late affair and communing with nature and just being herself, and I loved it to bits. So much so that I set about reading her chronologically – well, everything I could get hold of at the time – and it was of those transformative reading experiences. I’ve revisited this one more than any other Colette book and I still love it.

Next up biographical stuff and the like:

You can’t quite see it, but there is a little Margaret Crosland paperback biography hiding away on the right. I have read most of these over the years, most recently the Judith Thurman, which I loved. Colette’s life and art were intimately bound up, and books about her are marvellous.I also have a couple of biographical oddities:

“Close to Colette” is by her third husband, Maurice Goudeket, and I haven’t read it yet – I dare say I shall cry a lot when I do… And the Time and Tide was tracked down because it has a piece about her by her stepson Bertrand de Jouvenel, with whom she had an affair when she was 52 and he was 16…. Ahem.

Then there are the rarities:

As I’ve bemoaned in the past, there is no real list of everything Colette published, and no complete edition translated into English. So I’ve had to hunt around for missing things, and these are some of them – her collections of her animal writings, for example, and a hardback of “Mitsou” plus a collection of writings in French.

Phew! If you take a look at these as well as my earlier post, you’ll see there is a *lot* of Colette at the Ramblings, for which I make no apology. I was prompted, however, after taking these down, to reshuffle the shelves a bit so the pretty ones were at the front, next to my George Perecs – and here’s what the shelf looks like now:

I like being able to see the lovely pastel Penguin spines! As for what really prompted this post, Madame B was bemoaning the lurid cover of her edition of “Cheri” (and I can understand why!). I picked up a modern Penguin not that long ago because I want to re-read it, and it has a much nicer (and more discreet) cover image:

Not one to feel embarrassed about reading on the train… 😀

And one final image – I had to share this little tray which I picked up in a charity store once, and upon which my small coffee maker normally sits:

Because of the Parisian lady and her dog, it inevitably gets referred to as my Colette tray. You see how my mind is always running on books…. (*sigh*)

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