By Diana Holmes (auth.)
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Minne is scornful now of her yesterday's self, "that frigid child in quest ofthe impossible", for there is "no longer anything to search for" (IL, 187). Her gesture as she rubs her head against Antoine's sleeve is described as that of a "loving tame animal" and from her eyes "all the mystery has fled" (fL,189). The narrator hesitates between confirmation of the plot's central conclusion - that sexual satisfaction coincides with emotional fidelity - and a more subversive and open-ended meaning that includes regret for the doubting, seeking Minne destroyed by the ending.
Colette reflected ruefully on the genesis of these fictions, on the short story all in "red, pink, black, some pale gold on the little heroine" with its mixture of "fantasy and faits divers" which she had written with pleasure, hoping to publish it under her own name and which Willy's bullying had extended to two novels that she never really liked again. "It is fortunate for the honour of the French novel that the end of my cowardice shortened the destiny of Minne and nipped in the bud God knows how many 'Minne in Hell', 'Daughter of Minne', 'Minne'sDivorce' ...
3 Elsewhere she punctures the self-importance of the Examiners at her final exam by considering them for the reader, in physical terms: "mopping their brows, they're ugly and their skin's shiny with heat. Heavens! " (CS, 156-7). The visit of the Minister of Agriculture to Montigny to open the new school buildings is a wickedly observed exercise in deflation, from the arrival of the honoured guest ("a crosslooking little man with a stomach like a bullfinch" [CS, 200]) to Claudine's ironic commentaries on the words of the song the girls sing in his honour: Come arise!
Colette by Diana Holmes (auth.)