Sex & The Book / Passion, seduction and ageless eroticism: pleasure according to Colette

Colette's real name, born in Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye in 1873, was Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. Among the greatest writers of the last century, she lived as a true nonconformist, defying taboos of all kinds and giving us some of the pages with the most refined erotic flavor in French literature. Married three times - the first to the illustrious publisher, writer and journalist Willy - she was also a journalist and theater critic, as well as a screenwriter, cosmetics dealer, founder of a beauty institute, actress and music-hall dancer, even reaching to perform naked on stages like that of the Moulin Rouge. He entered into various relationships with some of the most illustrious personalities of the Parisian cultural scene, both male and female. Although the Church refused her religious funerals in 1954, she was the first woman in France to receive state funerals.

She went to him to kiss him, with a rush of rancor and selfishness and thoughts of punishment. «Wait ... it is really true that you have a beautiful mouth, this time I will get away with the desire because it tempts me and then I will leave you, go as it should go, I don't give a damn, I'll come ...». She kissed him so much that they melted from the embrace, intoxicated, stunned, out of breath, trembling as if they had had a fight

Who are the two lovers of the song, or perhaps - we should say - the two opponents? Léa and Chéri. A mature woman and a man too young. They are the protagonists of one of Colette's most famous novels, Chéri, serialized in 1920 in the magazine "La Vie Parisienne". Certainly a scandalous topic for the time, touched by a writer of the same age as her protagonist and which would soon have woven a long and even more scandalous relationship with the sixteen-year-old Bertrand de Jouvenel, the son of her second husband's first bed. What is called "literary foresight".

Léa de Lonval is a rich and refined forty-nine-year-old courtesan, accustomed to keeping her date of birth silent, but always ready to confess with a voluptuous gaze that she is now the age in which "it is permissible to indulge in some small pleasure". His little pleasure, destined to become a great and tragic love, responds to the name of Fred Peloux, known as Chéri, a bored 25-year-old scion of Parisian high society, beautiful and vicious. The passion between the two is overwhelming, born as a challenge, a fight against time and their own destiny. Léa cannot stop the merciless flow of days, just as Chéri - about to get married with 18-year-old Edmée - cannot put aside her obsession with that love that is both sensual and maternal, unable to make sense of her own. life. When Léa and Chéri kiss like that, when they love each other as if they were "fighting", who are they really fighting against? Against what?

The portrait of this ageless passion that Colette paints with care and rhythm, lightness and torment, accuracy and intensity, leaves us full of questions about seduction, relationships, eros. Is that even time, after all, is just a question of power and there is nothing in the registry difference? At the end of the race, wouldn't we have done first to give a name to our unhappiness, to admit the causes of our eternal dissatisfaction, without pouring all insecurity into love? The risk is that of ending up like Léa, watching Chéri go away from the window, distraught, but seeing a sigh of relief on his face.

by Giuliana Altamura

Opening photo from the film Chéri, © Miramax, which tells the passion between Léa and her young lover.

Here you can read the first appointment of the column, Sex & The Book / The Fire of Passion by Anaïs Nin

See also

How to drive a man crazy in bed: 10 foolproof seduction tricks

Sapiosexual: when it is intelligence that ignites eroticism

The pleasure chair

The cover of Colette's book "Chéri"