It all started with Colette for me. Discovering an orange and cream Penguin ed. of The Vagabond in Alnwick’s Barter Books aged 14 got me hooked. Soon I was reading every Colette novel I could get my hands on, as well as her short stories and the superb biography by Judith Thurman.
The more Colette I read, the more I wanted to discover about the women living in Paris during her period. And so from Colette I learnt about Stein, and Djuna Barnes, and Bryher, and H.D, and all the women I’ve been talking about in this series.
Colette’s short-story The Hand is something I read as a teenager and it has always haunted me. It pops into my head all the time, the intense description of the hand, the move from joy to revulsion to submission.
When you read it, think on:
- How does Colette communicate sensuality?
- What do you think of her use of description?
- How does she manage the transition from lust to disgust?
- What is the significance of the young wife’s feelings at the end of the story?