I watched a crazy movie a few weeks back, Violette.
The movie is the story of novelist Violette Leduc. She lives with the writer Maurice Sachs (are they married? I wasn’t sure). He is a legit novelist and they’ve had some sort of affair. Early on in the movie, she begs him to stay with her and he screams, Nothing is going to happen with us!
She reads his manuscript and he says Well? (Alors?) and she becomes upset, walks toward the window and explains she cannot believe he didn’t write about her. “All your famous friends,” she says. “If I were to write a book, I’d write all about my love for you.”
So she writes some pages. He reads them. He gives no feedback except for: “Keep going.”
The next morning he sneaks out of the house, leaving Violette. She moans and groans and screams and cries and whines. But he’s gone.
Violette goes to some meeting (confused about this part) and finds a book by Simonne De Beauvoir. What woman writes a book so long? she asks. But then she reads it and becomes a fan.
Violette finishes her own manuscript: In The Prison of Her Skin (cheery title, her mom says when she sees it) and somehow has Simone De Beauvoir’s home address. She walks to her door, catches SDB on her way out. SDB proclaims she’s very busy, leave the manuscript, she promises she’ll read it.
The next day Violette receives a telegram, I READ YOUR BOOK. BE AT MY PLACE AT 9A.M.
Violette goes to SDB’s apartment and SBD tells her how much she loved the book, and that she’s going to give it to her friends Albert Camus and Jean Genet, and they’ll publish it.
They do a low print run; Violette becomes upset in a bookstore when the shop owner tells her, “Never heard of it.”
The movie is split into 4 parts, each a trajectory about how Violette’s books came to be.
So Violette goes for drinks with SDB and Camus (who was just having dinner with Sartre but he drank too much so he went to bed).
Then Violette writes another book she calls STARVED. “It’s you,” SDB says about the title.
Violette falls into lust with SDB and keeps trying to kiss her and stuff. It’s super funny. SDB is not having any of it.
SDB tells Violette the press will give her 25k a month so she can write.
Because Violette has no $.
So now I’m forgetting what happened. It’s a long movie, over 2 hours, and I began this blog post a few weeks ago….
She writes RAVAGES.
There’s this theme going on that Violette has borderline personality disorder slash thinks she’s really ugly. This is confusing because they’ve casted a beautiful blonde woman as Violette, so, like….?
So then Violette goes a little crazy and storms into SDB’s apartment. She’s like, “You get all the success while I get nothing.” And SDB says:
Violetet tells SDB about falling in love with a girl friend in Boarding school.
Over lunch Violette asks SDB what she’s working on, and SDB is like, I wanted to write a book about women but now I realize I have a hill to climb. “What’s the title?” Violette asks. “I’m thinking The Second Sex,” she says.
Later on, Violette’s final book comes out and all of the reviews say: VIOLETTE LEDUC WRITES LIKE A MAN. Also there’s one great scene where Violette can’t find her first book in a bookstore, and the shop owner tells her she’s never heard of it, they probably did a low print run, and Violette goes so nuts over it. Apparently she was tortured by her perceived ugliness and low self-esteem. This was confusing in the movie since they casted a beautiful woman….
Anyway I don’t have enough time to continue what happened, so watch the movie or read the book! I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of her, this woman who opened so many doors for women writers to follow.
“Since she is obsessed with herself, all her works—with the exception of Les boutons dorés—are more or less autobiographical: reminiscences, a diary of a love affair, or rather of a loveless affair; a travel journal; a novel which transposes a certain period of her life; a novella introducing us to her fantasies; finally, La bâtarde, which summarizes and goes beyond her previous books.” —SBD
How funny that this statement by SBD stands to be true today:
“In these days, there is an abundance of sexual confessions. It is much rarer for a writer to speak frankly about money. Violette Leduc makes no secret of the importance it has for her: it too is a materialization of her relations with other people.”
You can read the whole foreword in The New Inquiry.
More news next week!