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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Marcelle Sauvageot

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To purchase Commentary

Title: Commentary
Author: Marcelle Sauvageot
Genre: Tale
Written: 1933 (Eng. 2013)
Length: 127 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Commentary - US
Commentary - UK
Commentary - Canada
Laissez-moi - Canada
Commentary - India
Laissez-moi - France
Fast ganz die Deine - Deutschland
Lasciami sola - Italia
Dejame - España
  • French title: originally published as Commentaire; re-published as Laissez-moi
  • Translated by Christine Schwartz Hartley and Anna Moschovakis
  • With an Introduction by Jennifer Moxley
  • With an essay by Jean Mouton (1986)
  • With the Foreword to the Second Edition and a Note by Charles du Bos (1934)

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Our Assessment:

B : fine, very personal response to a break-up

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 18/3/2005 Renate Schostack
Le Point . 5/2/2004 Christophe Mercier
Die Welt . 16/4/2005 Hans-Albrecht Koch
Die Zeit . 16/3/2005 Joseph Hanimann

  Review Consensus:

  A very strong text; impressed

  From the Reviews:
  • "Dieser Text hat die Klarheit und Härte eines Kristalls. (...) Marcelle Sauvageots Test spielt in einem geschlossenen Raum, der nicht das Krankenzimmer ist, sondern ein Seelenverlies. Die Außenwelt dringt kaum herein in diese metaphysische Leere." - Renate Schostack, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Laissez-moi est dense, tendu, d'une intense lucidité. C'est l'expression d'une douleur, d'une souffrance, disséquées dans le moindre détail et exprimées avec une dignité frémissante et hautaine" - Christophe Mercier, Le Point

  • "Es macht die Schönheit dieses Textes aus, daß er alle Kunst der Sprache aufbietet, um davon zu reden, wovon sich nicht reden läßt." - Hans-Albrecht Koch, Die Welt

  • "Die Präzision der Beobachtung, die Feinheit der Wahrnehmung, die Klarheit der Analyse und die nuancierte Exaktheit des Ausdrucks heben das in knappen Episoden skizzierte Liebesleid aufs Niveau einer Meditation, wo weiblicher Absolutheitsanspruch und kalkulierende Männlichkeit über alle zeitbedingten Geschlechterrollen hinaus paradigmatisch miteinander verwachsen." - Joseph Hanimann, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Commentary is just that: Marcelle Sauvageot's commentary to and on the lover who has reëvaluated their relationship and decided to go another way. She specifically addresses him (i.e. writes about and possibly to: 'you') in almost all of these entries -- what might be letters or diary-entries, written between early November 1930 and the end of the year. Complicating matters is the fact that she has tuberculosis -- the work begins with her setting out for a sanatorium, and most of the entries are written from her stay --, a sickness that kills her soon after the 1933 publication of the work.
       Complicating matters, too, is that the man she loves is a cad. She's already somewhat worried about their relationship when she hears from him:

     "I am getting married ... Our friendship remains ..." I don't know what happened.
       Maybe she should have seen this coming -- it becomes clear that the other woman didn't exactly pop up out of nowhere -- but blinded by her love she apparently couldn't believe that he'd settle for that other woman.
       "If you love me, I will be cured", she writes early on, before he's announced he's moving on -- a lot to burden both herself and him with. "Surely he must still love me", she tells herself, as she continues to receive letters from him after she has set off. His announcement that he is marrying another woman does bring a sense of finality, and it sinks in quickly and devastatingly enough, but it takes her a while to try to work out her feelings. She explores them, almost clinically, yet the depth of her love still colors all.
       Even as she addresses him, she explains: "I will not write to you, because I want to forget you." Obviously, at this point she's not quite there yet. Painstakingly, and painfully, she goes over what has and what is happening. She's not so blinded as not to recognize his maneuvers, including how:
you no longer wanted to see me as I was; and I wept to see myself destroyed in this manner.
       It's a powerful examination of ultimately unrequited love and a failed affair, written with a fine control that balances between the impassioned and the almost clinically analytical. The object of her affections seems entirely unworthy -- or, at the very least, not the appropriate partner for her -- but then love doesn't work that way, and so she gets the worst of it. Her response isn't a bitter rant (though there's certainly a bitter edge here); mostly, it's just touched by sadness. (Awareness of her fate -- "Leave me to suffer, leave me to be cured, leave me alone", she asks, and the reader knows that didn't quite work out either -- adds to the poignancy of the text.)
       Padded with introductions and commentary, this edition of Commentary doesn't quite allow Sauvageot's words to stand on their own. Arguably, some background is helpful, but given how the text deals with the lover's absence -- he remains in communication with her, after all, yet is an almost entirely unheard presence -- the text is probably more effective standing all by its lonesome. Like her.

- M.A.Orthofer, 24 March 2014

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Commentary: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Marcelle Sauvageot lived 1900 to 1934

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