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Claudine at School by Sidonie-Gabrielle…

Claudine at School (original 1900; edition 1963)

by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, Antonia White (Translator)

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289438,912 (3.8)17
Title:Claudine at School
Authors:Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
Other authors:Antonia White (Translator)
Info:Penguin (1963)
Collections:Your library

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Claudine at School by Colette (1900)


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This was Colette’s first novel, published in 1900 when she was 27, and which would become a 4-part series of ‘Claudine’ books. Ostensibly the book was co-authored with her first husband, and rake that he was, he likely steered the content towards the provocative end. However, the major voice here in this book is almost certainly Colette’s, and it’s interesting to find that the books were likely semi-autobiographical.

If so, what an interesting school she must have attended! Claudine’s teacher openly carries on a lesbian love affair with an assistant (one that Claudine herself originally desired, turning their tutoring sessions into dates), and the superintendent brazenly gropes and pursues the young girls. Aware of her sexuality but not about to swoon over a guy or fall victim to the superintendent, Claudine is an interesting combination of sharp, sassy, and cynical. She tends to control her environment and the friends around her – flirtatious Anais, clueless Marie, and little Luce, who idolizes and loves her. The narration is through her unique voice, and often with an inner voice in response to what other characters say or do. It’s sentimental in the sense that this is her last year before she will leave the country for Paris and never see these people again, and yet she is tough and far from cloying about it.

It’s not ‘high fiction’, but it is an entertaining, tight story, and transplants you to life in one of these schools at the time, preparing for and taking exams, creating a gala ball to honor a dignitary, and engaging in the everyday lives of kids and their various attractions and jealousies. ( )
1 vote gbill | Mar 28, 2016 |
i don't know. i never wanted to read this when it was its turn. ( )
  mahallett | Jul 25, 2015 |
Here is a young heroine with a keen, socially observant eye who is shockingly, innocently, perfectly coquettish. Despite its popularity, it must have ruffled some feathers at the time -- this novel acknowledges high-school age girls as being sexually aware (however limitedly so).

Something about the girls' little idiosyncratic communication tics really get at the amusement inherent in being a teenage girl. There are some hilariously concise descriptions of such occurrences as barely stifled laughs, conspiratorial glances, and little gloaty "I know something" dances.

Although this is a predecessor of such dreck as the Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars series of YA books, its heroine is admirably self-aware and while she may come across as shallow, it's made clear that she is diamond-sharp and as introspective as she is aware of the motivations and designs of those around her. Claudine is bitingly funny and simply charming. ( )
1 vote double.entendrea | Sep 1, 2010 |
Strong narrative voice and engaging heroine; sullied by the sordidness. ( )
  wktarin | Feb 25, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Coletteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Flanner, JanetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, AntoniaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
"La collaboration de Willy et Colette Willy ayant pris fin, il devenait indispensable de rendre à chacun la part qui lui est due et de remplacer la signature unique de ce volume par celles de Willy et Colette Wily.
Des raisons purement typographiques ont voulu que mon nom fût placé avant celui de Colette Willy, alors que toutes les raisons, littéraires et autres, eussent éxigé que som nom prît la première place" WILLY
First words
En haut d'une maison neuve, on m'ouvrit un atelier vaste comme une halle, pourvu d'une large galerie à mi-hauteur, tendu de ces broderies de Chine que la Chine exécute pour l'Occident, à grands motifs un peu bâclés, assez belles.
- Et pourquoi cesserais-je d'etre de mon village?
'The eleven o'clock postman brought nothing. If Farou didn't write last night before going to bed, it's because he'd had a late rehearsal.'
La maison était grande, coiffée d'un grenier haut.
'Are you going fishing, Vinca?'
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Disambiguation notice
This is not "Claudine's House"/"My Mother's House" (La maison de Claudine), but "Claudine at schoool" (Claudine à l'école)
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A semi-autobiographical exploration of Colette's childhood, her relationship with her mother, feelings for nature, and first experience with love and sex.
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Claudine, sparkling with life and intelligence, sows merry hell among her classmates and teachers of a parochial school in turn of the century France.

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