Commentary (A Tale)
by Marcelle Sauvageot, translated by Christine Schwartz Hartley
available from Ugly Duckling Press
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.
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.