Thérèse and Isabelle

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In the mid s Violette Leduc wrote a novel called Ravages The first hundred and fifty pages comprised a semi autobiographical depiction of two schoolgirls in a torrid lesbian relationship which

In the mid-1950s, Violette Leduc wrote a novel called Ravages. The first hundred and fifty pages comprised a semi-autobiographical depiction of two schoolgirls in a torrid lesbian relationship, which Leduc said she hoped would be ‘no more shocking than Mme Bloom’. Yes they said Yes it is more shocking yes. Her publishers refused to print it, and the novel appeared without its opening section in 1955 (and did very well). Ten years later, a different publisher agreed to print the excised material as a stand-alone novella, although they still insisted on certain cuts for legality: this was the original 1966 form of Thérèse et Isabelle, the fully uncensored version of which did not appear in French until the year 2000, nearly thirty years after its author had died.It is very explicit in places, but also deeply poetic. Leduc said her aim was to ‘render as minutely as possible the sensations experienced during physical love’ and while at times this feels like a slightly limited goal, she succeeds at it brilliantly. In terms of purely physical sensations, this short book contains the best sex scenes I've ever read. And yet they're not all that sexy – to me, anyway – because it is purely physical sensation: there is almost no emotional background, no build-up, no characterisation of either Thérèse or Isabelle that goes beyond each girl's overwhelming desire for the other.Nevertheless the language is remarkable. Leduc has a tendency to come out with these gnomic, existential remarks, which don't always make perfect sense but which demand to be quoted for their sheer inventive pleasure:La caresse est au frisson ce que le crépuscule est à l'éclair.(The caress is to the shiver what dusk is to the lightning-bolt.)Quand on aime on est toujours sur le quai d'une gare.(When one is in love, one is always on a railway-station platform.) Je la regarde comme je regarde la mer le soir quand je ne la vois plus.(I watch her the way I watch the sea in the evening when I can no longer see it.)Ma bouche rencontra sa bouche comme la feuille morte la terre.(My mouth met her mouth as a dead leaf meets the earth.)J'entrais dans sa bouche comme on entre dans la guerre(I entered her mouth the way you enter a war.)At times these lapidary flourishes work very well; at other times, they topple over into high-flown nonsense (‘I was seized by the glove of infinity’, and much more in the same vein). There is also something a bit…oppressive about the tone for my tastes, with zero sense of humour and much earnestness. Admittedly these characters are only seventeen, and sex does tend to feel like the end of the world at that age, but still, wow!, talk about intense. Just hours after hooking up, Thérèse is already fantasizing about cutting off the hands of everyone else that touches her new lover, while Isabelle is raising the prospect of the two of them jumping off a cliff together so that neither outlives the other. It made me laugh because of the whole running joke in the LGBT world that gay women are super clingy super fast (you remember the classic gag: what does a lesbian bring to a second date? A U-Haul). At the same time I was impressed by it, just because of how few writers are attempting this sort of thing now.I became fixated on the pronouns. They were still referring to each other by the formal vous until nearly halfway through the story! It was blowing my mind. You would think by the time you're knuckle-deep inside another person that one of you would have coughed politely and said, ‘Actually, do you mind if we tutoie each other?’ It's one of those little things that make me realise how much mental space is separating me from this world of 1950s provincial France.All the more reason to experience it, though. The book is short and it builds, like a good quickie, to an intense and powerful climax where all of Leduc's characteristics work to best effect. An orgasm is captured in words like you would hardly believe possible (in a riot of synaesthesia: ‘my eyes heard, my ears saw’), and there are several more flashes of unexpected simile (Thérèse, trying to learn how to give oral sex, describes her gestures as feeling ‘like a scratched record repeating itself’ – this is fantastic).For post-climactic comedown, Leduc leaves us with two final sentences that are the more devastating for being so simple after all the poetry that has gone before. It's a beautiful piece of work – limited in what it sets out to do, perhaps, and a little overblown at times, but nonetheless studded with frantic and extraordinary delights.(Dec 2013)Popular Thérèse and Isabelle Author Violette Leduc Sophie Lewis Michael Lucey go inside Kindle This is all the raw urgency of female adolescent sexuality its energy and intensity, the push pull of its excitement, its dangers and glories, building to a coming explosion Kate Millett, author of Mother Millett Read it in one sitting Literally breathless This first person torch song for the pink brute reminds us why French schoolgirls are the emblem for nau This is all the raw urgency of female adolescent sexuality its energy and intensity, the push pull of its excitement, its dangers and glories, building to a coming explosion Kate Millett, author of Mother Millett Read it in one sitting Literally breathless This first person torch song for the pink brute reminds us why French schoolgirls are the emblem for naughty passions as literary classics Sarah Schulman, author of The Gentrification of the Mind School aged, yet sage in their desires, Th r se and Isabelle called forth an endless night a dark and delicate space for them to explore the complexity of their love I have waited a very long time to slip back into the unexpurgated, delicious darkness with these iconic lesbian lovers Amber Dawn, author of How Poetry Saved My LifeTh r se and Isabelle is the tale of two boarding school girls in love In 1966 when it was originally published in France, the text was censored because of its explicit depiction of young homosexuality With this publication, the original, unexpurgated text a stunning literary portrayal of female desire and sexuality is available to a US audience for the first time Included is an afterword by Michael Lucey, professor of French and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley.Violette Leduc 1907 1972 has been referred to as France s greatest unknown writer Admired by Jean Genet, Nathalie Sarraute, and Albert Camus, Leduc was championed by Simone de Beauvoir when she published her scandalous autobiography La Batarde 1964.. Leduc was born in Arras, Pas de Calais, France, the illegitimate daughter of a servant girl, Berthe In Valenciennes, the young Violette spent most of her childhood suffering from an ugly self image and from her mother s hostility and overprotectiveness.Her formal education, begun in 1913, was interrupted by World War I After the war, she went to a boarding school, the Coll ge de Douai, where she experienced lesbian affairs with a classmate and a music instructor who was fired over the incident.In 1926, Leduc moved to Paris and enrolled in the Lyc e Racine That same year, she failed her baccalaureate exam and began working as a telephone operator and secretary at Plon publishers.In 1932 she met Maurice Sachs and Simone de Beauvoir, who encouraged her to write Her first novel L Asphyxie In the Prison of Her Skin was published by Albert Camus for ditions Gallimard and earned her praise from Jean Paul Sartre, Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet.Leduc s best known book, the memoir La B tarde, was published in 1964 It nearly won the Prix Goncourt and quickly became a bestseller She went on to write eight books, including La Folie en t te Mad in Pursuit , the second part of her literary autobiography.. Bestseller Book Thérèse and Isabelle In the mid-1950s, Violette Leduc wrote a novel called Ravages. The first hundred and fifty pages comprised a semi-autobiographical depiction of two schoolgirls in a torrid lesbian relationship, which Leduc said she hoped would be ‘no more shocking than Mme Bloom’. Yes they said Yes it is more shocking yes. Her publishers refused to print it, and the novel appeared without its opening section in 1955 (and did very well). Ten years later, a different publisher agreed to print the excised material as a stand-alone novella, although they still insisted on certain cuts for legality: this was the original 1966 form of Thérèse et Isabelle, the fully uncensored version of which did not appear in French until the year 2000, nearly thirty years after its author had died.It is very explicit in places, but also deeply poetic. Leduc said her aim was to ‘render as minutely as possible the sensations experienced during physical love’ and while at times this feels like a slightly limited goal, she succeeds at it brilliantly. In terms of purely physical sensations, this short book contains the best sex scenes I've ever read. And yet they're not all that sexy – to me, anyway – because it is purely physical sensation: there is almost no emotional background, no build-up, no characterisation of either Thérèse or Isabelle that goes beyond each girl's overwhelming desire for the other.Nevertheless the language is remarkable. Leduc has a tendency to come out with these gnomic, existential remarks, which don't always make perfect sense but which demand to be quoted for their sheer inventive pleasure:La caresse est au frisson ce que le crépuscule est à l'éclair.(The caress is to the shiver what dusk is to the lightning-bolt.)Quand on aime on est toujours sur le quai d'une gare.(When one is in love, one is always on a railway-station platform.) Je la regarde comme je regarde la mer le soir quand je ne la vois plus.(I watch her the way I watch the sea in the evening when I can no longer see it.)Ma bouche rencontra sa bouche comme la feuille morte la terre.(My mouth met her mouth as a dead leaf meets the earth.)J'entrais dans sa bouche comme on entre dans la guerre(I entered her mouth the way you enter a war.)At times these lapidary flourishes work very well; at other times, they topple over into high-flown nonsense (‘I was seized by the glove of infinity’, and much more in the same vein). There is also something a bit…oppressive about the tone for my tastes, with zero sense of humour and much earnestness. Admittedly these characters are only seventeen, and sex does tend to feel like the end of the world at that age, but still, wow!, talk about intense. Just hours after hooking up, Thérèse is already fantasizing about cutting off the hands of everyone else that touches her new lover, while Isabelle is raising the prospect of the two of them jumping off a cliff together so that neither outlives the other. It made me laugh because of the whole running joke in the LGBT world that gay women are super clingy super fast (you remember the classic gag: what does a lesbian bring to a second date? A U-Haul). At the same time I was impressed by it, just because of how few writers are attempting this sort of thing now.I became fixated on the pronouns. They were still referring to each other by the formal vous until nearly halfway through the story! It was blowing my mind. You would think by the time you're knuckle-deep inside another person that one of you would have coughed politely and said, ‘Actually, do you mind if we tutoie each other?’ It's one of those little things that make me realise how much mental space is separating me from this world of 1950s provincial France.All the more reason to experience it, though. The book is short and it builds, like a good quickie, to an intense and powerful climax where all of Leduc's characteristics work to best effect. An orgasm is captured in words like you would hardly believe possible (in a riot of synaesthesia: ‘my eyes heard, my ears saw’), and there are several more flashes of unexpected simile (Thérèse, trying to learn how to give oral sex, describes her gestures as feeling ‘like a scratched record repeating itself’ – this is fantastic).For post-climactic comedown, Leduc leaves us with two final sentences that are the more devastating for being so simple after all the poetry that has gone before. It's a beautiful piece of work – limited in what it sets out to do, perhaps, and a little overblown at times, but nonetheless studded with frantic and extraordinary delights.(Dec 2013)

About Author

  • Violette Leduc Sophie Lewis Michael Lucey Post author

    Leduc was born in Arras, Pas de Calais, France, the illegitimate daughter of a servant girl, Berthe In Valenciennes, the young Violette spent most of her childhood suffering from an ugly self image and from her mother s hostility and overprotectiveness.Her formal education, begun in 1913, was interrupted by World War I After the war, she went to a boarding school, the Coll ge de Douai, where she experienced lesbian affairs with a classmate and a music instructor who was fired over the incident.In 1926, Leduc moved to Paris and enrolled in the Lyc e Racine That same year, she failed her baccalaureate exam and began working as a telephone operator and secretary at Plon publishers.In 1932 she met Maurice Sachs and Simone de Beauvoir, who encouraged her to write Her first novel L Asphyxie In the Prison of Her Skin was published by Albert Camus for ditions Gallimard and earned her praise from Jean Paul Sartre, Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet.Leduc s best known book, the memoir La B tarde, was published in 1964 It nearly won the Prix Goncourt and quickly became a bestseller She went on to write eight books, including La Folie en t te Mad in Pursuit , the second part of her literary autobiography.

One thought on “Thérèse and Isabelle

  • In the mid 1950s, Violette Leduc wrote a novel called Ravages The first hundred and fifty pages comprised a semi autobiographical depiction of two schoolgirls in a torrid lesbian relationship, which Leduc said she hoped would be no shocking than Mme Bloom Yes they said Yes it is shocking yes Her publishers refused to print it, and the novel appeared without its opening section in 1955 and did very well Ten years later, a different publisher agreed to print the excised material as a stand alone [...]


  • This is an autobiographical French novella about a schoolgirl lesbian relationship that was written and censored in the 1950s In present day, we re getting the full text published as intended I appreciate the courage it took to write the story and I m glad to get a slice of it now.As an American reader, I first wondered if the translation was stiff or inaccurate because the word choices and metaphors seemed odd There s a certain jarring quality to the read Then I realized that, no, it was the s [...]


  • I wasn t so sure about this at the start and even half way through I was like What the hell is going on with this language Is this a bad translation or does the author just play by her own rules There are some great sentences and descriptions strewn throughout but then they re followed by something so bonkers, it felt constantly jolting In sort of a Kathy Acker William Burroughs Bataille kind of style But it also had a Gertrude Stein poetry vibe strumming through it About 2 3 of the way through [...]


  • From Therese and Isabelle p 197 My blood rushed toward her in jubilation I turned the flashlight on.Her pubic hair was not twinkling it had grown thoughtful I embalmed Isabelle with my lips, with my hands Pale sleeping girls were breathing all around her shades hungry for pallor whirled above her I opened her lips and killed myself before looking My face was touching it, my face moistening it I began to make love to it out of plain friendship Better than that I could not do .Isabelle thrust my f [...]


  • This book is basically pages and pages of what it feels like to fall deeply in love the good, the bad, the fear and all the titillating details Although I struggled with the language from time to time, it is actually a very well translated book, which could not have been easy No one can really take an extremely passionate love affair and turn into an artistic masterpiece quite like the French.


  • I look at her as I look at the sea in the evening when I can no longer see it Perfection is not part of this world even when we come upon it here We are talking It s a shame What is said is murdered Our words that will not grow any bigger or any lovelier will wilt inside our bones What will we do in the night to come Isabelle knows Tomorrow in this class, in front of this desk I will know what we have done Isabelle was living as she had lived before drawing me into her box Isabelle was deceiving [...]


  • Violette Leduc spent three years working on the first part of her novel Ravages When the manuscript of the book was presented to her publisher Gallimard in 1954, her readers there Raymond Queneau and Jacques Lemarchand decided the first third of the book should be nixed because it described a torrid lesbian affair between two schoolgirls Ravages was offered around to other French imprints but no one was prepared to issue it without cuts In the end a censored version of the novel appeared in 1955 [...]


  • Violette Leduc, baseada na sua pr pria experi ncia, escreve um pequeno romance no qual relata a paix o vivida entre duas adolescentes, que juntas se descobrem e ao amor.As descri es dos encontros amorosos entre as duas jovens, apesar de expl citas e ousadas, t m passagens de uma grande beleza e ternura n o chocando qualquer mente menos preparada levando me a pensar numa frase que ouvi h dias O amor n o tem sexo Este pequeno livro tem uma introdu o bastante interessante com algumas passagens escr [...]


  • Th r se and Isabelle is a short but explosive story of the passion between two young women It was initially censored for profane immoral content, and given the taboos attached to articulations of female sexuality especially lesbian sexuality it is easy to understand why Without ever using explicit language, and even translated from the original French, this book contains extraordinarily vivid depictions of sex, longing, and desire between women Violette Leduc captures a great many things without [...]


  • Me recomendaron leer este libro y no fallaron El estilo l rico de Violette Leduc es bestial, si bien es cierto que, en ocasiones, se enreda en sus propias met foras y entra en bucle La historia comienza salt ndose los pre mbulos de cualquier novela rom ntica y va directa a la parte sexual Por eso, es dif cil empatizar con el comportamiento caprichoso de Th r se e Isabelle, dos j venes de 17 y 18 a os que conviven en un internado.Lo tendr siempre a mano porque una p gina suya abierta al azar insp [...]


  • Encountering you, I found sense in my abyss Wasn t expecting my heart to go through a paper shredder when reading this novel falls under erotica From the beginning I was uncertain but prevailingly seduced by the sometimes turbulently translated and sometimes soul caressing prose I seemed to slip into her abstract but hypnotic rhythm around half way and then lost myself in the miasma of sensual whispers that guide the narrative in This is the most poetic text I have read of late and the intensity [...]


  • 3.5 stars I wish I was fluent in French so I could read this in its original form While some of the translation is absolutely beautiful, some of it is not I also had some difficulties determining tense, which, again, probably had to do with translating it to English I also really enjoyed reading the discussion of the censorship of Violette Leduc s work at the end of the book and reading about the attempts to get it published originally And it infuriates me that people ignore Leduc s self identif [...]


  • Totally boring It is a short book 120 pages for my French Kindle edition but it was so long to finish it I am really disappointed because this wasn t what I expected It is well written but it s always the same thing, I swear I am just relieved to be done with this book.


  • Edizione integrale e originale Ovvero senza la censura di Gallimard e senza l autocensura concomitante dell autrice Voglio Isabelle Torner a me, se i beccamorti non me l hanno rubata L aspetto ai quattro angoli del carro funebre, respiro l odore del suo copriletto, l aspetto con una lamentatrice nel ventre Che cosa faremo la notte prossima Ci sfaldavamo in aghi di pietra.


  • Definitely a book to make you blush When lust masquerades as love, a self aware, cynical adolescent romance, the kind of book perhaps best read aloud at night to a lover in bed and not around your family at thanksgiving, which was my mistake.


  • Ya hab a visto la pel cula, as que sab a lo que pasar a sin embargo no pude evitar soltar l grimas por ese desenlace El relato de Th r se te transmite cuanto quer a a Isabelle y viceversa,y no puedes evitar sufrir por su final,doloroso pero sin duda est en mi lista de favoritos.



  • Le mot qui me vient en pensant cette histoire est FEMININ 2 jeunes femmes en pensionnat dans les ann es 50 qui s aiment et d couvrent leurs corps et les plaisirs charnels Beaucoup de m taphores avec les fleurs et les couleurs Des instants vol s et passionn s d crits de fa on douce et d licate.Ce livre n est pas comparable aux r cits rotiques d aujourd hui Il faut le replacer dans son contexte Tout d abord paru en 1954, le roman a t censur puis r edit de fa on r duite en 1968 Folio a recu les dro [...]


  • The first version is paperback, 96 pages, 1966 This edition has 8 pages of photos from the movies The text is divided into chapters.The newer version is also paperback It s 246 pages long There are no photos There is, though, a section on how the book was censored and an afterword with books cited There are no chapters in this version.The story is about two girls at an all girls school in France They fall in love and manage to find a way to have a sexual relationship despite all the other people [...]


  • Je me suis pos e des questions, j exigeais de silence Nous psalmodiions, nous nous plaignions, nous nous r v lions des com diennes inn es Nous nous serrions jusqu l touffement Nos mains tremblaient, nos yeux se fermaient Nous cessions, nous recommencions Nos bras retombaient, notre pauvret nous merveillait This book is for me simply beautiful it reminds me of graduate school and teenage times.Violette Leduc has a very poetic pen and happens to make us live through her lines passionate love that [...]


  • Es un libro cortito pero que cuesta leer Es muy po tico, muy visceral tambi n, parece que ha sido escrito casi del tir n, a bocajarro, como si fuera un ejercicio de sacarlo todo fuera A ratos tambi n surrealista y on rico, irreal Y desde luego, er tico, todo el libro son los encuentros del las dos chicas en el internado, como se buscan, como se anhelan, como se celan Supongo que como ejercicio introspectivo y muestra del erotismo entre mujeres, as como cierta reivindicaci n, tiene su aquel, pero [...]


  • Unfortunately I could only get this 1967 edition It is just a part of what should have been published in 1954 as part of Ravages Censorship forced Leduc to cut some 170 pages I find the translation a little wanting Interested readers should forgo this partial publication and get the full text, which was published in 2000.


  • T m kirja oli kyll h iritsev luettavaa Theresest ja Isabellest en pit nyt lainkaan, teksti oli raskasta lukea ja sis lt ahdistavaa osin seksuaalisen latautuneisuutensa osin sekavuutensa vuoksi Silti jostain syyst kahlasin novellin alusta loppuun.J limm isest tekstist pidin enemm n, vaikkei t m nkaltainen kirjoitus selv stik n sovi minulle August 3, 2006


  • Very sensual, and highly metaphoric, almost unpenetrably so And I would guess that s a good thing A comment about the translation it leaves the impression of being too meticulous for loss of literatic accuracy I mean, that there is a certain amount of surplus sophistication that I would not expect in the original French but I may be mistaken here.


  • Une prose sensuelle, qui vous br lera les doigts mais que vous ne pourrez pas l cher avant la derni re page D une po sie et d un rotisme subtile, Violette Leduc signe une perle d couvrir sur les premiers mois amoureux entre ces deux jeunes femmes des ann es 1950s bookymary 2016 01


  • Poetic and fascinating, although definitely lacking in plot It s hard to imagine this novella being written although not published at the same time as lesbian pulp like the Beebo Brinker novels or The Price of Salt The writing and imagery are gorgeous and indulgent, in a good way.


  • Beautiful extended metaphor concerning young love and sexual awakening between two young girls May be difficult for some readers not typical type of language familiar to modern readers Definitely worth a look despite this fact.





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