'I came into the world, I vowed to entertain a passion for the impossible,' writes Violette Leduc in her autobiography.
The details of her life are stark and troubled, her rendering of them sensuous, lyrical, intensely alive. Born in Arras in 1907, the illegitimate daughter of a servant and the son of the house, her inheritance from her mother was sense of terrible guilt and of her own 'unforgivable face'. And yet it was her mother's love she craved, a craving and refusal that marked her life. When her mother married, Violette chose to go away to boarding school, but her love affair with another pupil and then with Hermine, her music teacher, led to expulsion. Years in Paris with the devoted Hermine, marriage to the masochistic Gabriel, an existence on the fringes of the Parisian artistic life follows, and finally her meeting with the Wildean figure, Maurice Sachs. It was he who persuaded her to write and in 1945 this extraordinary and flamboyant woman published her first novel, L'Asphyxie, acclaimed by Camus, Genet, de Beauvoir and Sarte.
La Bâtarde, her most famous book, was published in France in 1964 and in Britain in 1965. In the preface to it, Simone de beauvoir writes, "The richness of her narratives comes from the burning intensity of her memory. . .everyone she meets is an object for her attentive observation. . .they grip us and they did her."