Translator: Christine Schwartz Hartley
Translator: Anna Moschovakis
Introduction: Jennifer Moxley
Fiction/Memoir | $16 ($14 direct from UDP)
Perfect-bound. 128 pp, 5 x 8 in.
Publication Date: December 15, 2013
Commentary is a narrative—hovering between the genres of memoir, theory, and fiction—told by a dying woman whose abandonment by a lover precipitates a complex and moving investigation into suffering, solitude, friendship, and the nature of romantic and sexual love. Sauvageot died of tuberculosis, after several stints in sanatoriums, at the age of 34. Commentaire was highly praised in its time by Paul Claudel, Paul Valéry, André Gide, Charles Du Bos, René Crevel and Clara Malraux.
This edition is translated by Christine Schwartz-Hartley (African Psycho) and Anna Moschovakis (The Jokers, The Possession), with a new introduction by Jennifer Moxley. It also includes translations of a foreword and note by Charles du Bos and an essay by Jean Mouton, all from previous French editions of the book.
[from the introduction]
Though eighty years have passed since its initial appearance, Commentary is a tale that still needs to be told. Though we may flatter ourselves into believing that we conduct our love affairs more maturely than did the barbarous moderns, even in these “enlightened” times readers will discover that Sauvageot’s unsparing honesty about sexual love can still provoke deep recognition. —JENNIFER MOXLEY
As I write these lines, I can hear, on the terrace next to mine, a group of young and pretty women conversing with animation and good cheer. I cannot understand what they are saying; but I can clearly make out, as a constant and frequent refrain, “my husband”; when I come across them during a walk or at lunch, if I catch a few words of their conversation, these words are always: “my husband.” Is it really necessary to become like this, and can a woman not think except with the husband’s ideas? This might make you smile, lead you to think that resentment has made me sarcastic. But I am so bored with all these women who talk about their husbands!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
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Born in 1900, Marcelle Sauvageot was connected to the Surrealists by friendship, love, and artistic practice, but has been excluded from the dominant narrative about that movement until a reissue of her single book, Commentaire (initially retitled Laissez-Moi), was published in Paris in 2002, prompting a revival of interest in her work and inspiring a successful one-woman show in Paris. She died in 1934 of tuberculosis.
A freelance editor and writer based in Brooklyn, Christine Schwartz Hartley has translated Venus of Khalakanti, by Angèle Kingué (forthcoming from Griot Project Book Series/Bucknell University Press); Kate Moss: The Making of An Icon by Christian Salmon (HaperCollins); Mamika: My Mighty Little Grandmother by Sacha Goldberger (HaperCollins); and African Psycho by Alain Mabanckou (Soft Skull Press). A former deputy editor of Art + Auction and contributor to The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Interior Design, and Elle Decor, she is responsible for the 2010 reissue of Spécialités de la Maison, a compendium of recipes by early 20th-century literary, political, show-business icons, and socialites. French-born, she holds a diploma from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, a master’s in journalism from New York University and a licence ès-lettres (English) from the Université Paris IV-Sorbonne.
Anna Moschovakis is the translator of The Jokers by Albert Cossery (New York Review Books Classics), which was shortlisted for both the Best Translated Book Award and the French-American Foundation / Florence Gould Award in 2011. She has also translated The Engagement by Georges Simenon and The Possession by Annie Ernaux. Her translation of Nazis dans le Métro by Didier Daeninckx is forthcoming from Melville House.