Colette is one of those rare writers for whom one has not only respect but a deep affection. Affection, because respect and admiration are not enough for a woman who determinedly remained a ‘natural’ and refused to sell herself in the literary market-place. Not for her the claustrophobic world of the salon littéraire, and writer scoring off writer, nor the jealousy and back-biting that all too frequently accompanies it. She made her life among the pleasures and desolations of the day-to-day, and preferred observing nature or watching the fishermen dance at Saint-Tropez to receiving admiring letters. Even to the end she dismissed her own fame, protesting to her daughter, ‘If I were famous, I would know.’
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'Robert Silvers, editor of the New York Review of Books, once asked Isaiah Berlin who his ideal dinner guest would be. Without hesitation Berlin exclaimed, ‘William James!’'
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Hilary Mantel reviewing Margaret Atwood: a #BookerPrize double-header from the archive.
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