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1953, april 4 On Minding In which Rachilde is reunited with Lison Rachilde was a master of not minding. This is just as well because there was much to mind in her final years. The deprivations of World War II were hard to bear: in addition to immediate material shortages (food, heat, clothing), the fact that her work was placed on the Otto list affected her ability to earn an income, her only source of revenue since she was a notoriously poor financial planner who had made no provision for old age. Fortunately, Rachilde enjoyed good health for most of her life, which was also just as well: like Jarry, she distrusted “les merdecins,” as her fiction shows (for example, Célestin in La Marquise de Sade), and consulted them as little as possible. The minor health problems that she endured (her limp, eye trouble, depression) did not prevent her from writing, at least not for long. After Vallette’s death in September 1935, Rachilde depended entirely on what she could earn (either by writing or by selling books, manuscripts, and letters). Her post-1935 literary production shows her career taking new turns. Notably, but not surprisingly, given Vallette’s death, there are no publications at all in 1936. Then, in 1937, things pick up again, and Rachilde publishes a mystery, L’Autre Crime, and her first volume of poetry, Les Accords perdus, the elegiac title evoking her recent loss. The year 1938 would see La Fille inconnue, a throwback to the romans à clef featuring Barrès (here the hero is named Dormes) combined with the influence of Nel Haroun, who had inspired a number of earlier novels. In 1939 came another novel, L’Anneau de Saturne, but her literary production was slowing down. The next novel, her last, would not appear until 1943: Duvet d’ange, another roman à clef, this time starring Madame Bathilde, wife of Edmond Dormoy (read D’Ormoy), editor of the Revue mauve. Meanwhile, Rachilde published memoirs (Face à la peur [1942], a rehash of Dans le puits), more poetry (Survie [1945]), and yet more memoirs, Quand j’étais jeune. Quand j’étais jeune would be her last publication, appearing in 1947, but she would live another six years before dying at the age of ninetythree , after a fall at her apartment at the Mercure in April 1953. The relative inattention to her work in later life was another thing that she might have minded had she thought about it. Used to being courted by young writers for her literary influence, the neglect was a sign that she had outlived even her usefulness to them, that her triumphant declaration , “Plus moyen de m’enterrer,” when she signed a breakthrough deal with Flammarion in 1921 (Léautaud 1:1157) was not only literally false but also figuratively false even before she was dead. When she died, Rachilde’s grave. Courtesy of the author. many people thought that she had already been in her grave for some years. She might also have minded that the leading daily paper, Le Monde, got some of the facts wrong in her obituary (although her own obfuscations about her date of birth are also partly to blame). Still, at least she did not live to see the public mourning and outpouring of grief that followed the death of Colette the following year. This she would have minded a lot more, always having felt a certain rivalry with Colette, whom she once characterized as a “putain” and an “immonde fripouille ” (Léautaud 1:1534, 2:574 –75). Minding is a complicated business. On the one hand, minding can mean “to pay attention to, to give one’s mind or consciousness to something .” This is complicated enough:minding the step can be as simple as paying attention so as not to fall, whereas minding children can be a complicated process with a whole host of possibilities to consider rather than one specific pitfall to avoid. The minded step does not require that we do anything on its behalf, but minded children often do. Minding one’s own business meansnot minding someone else’s, andwhat one does not mind is even more complicated. It can mean a kind of indifference rather than simple inattention (“I don’t mind where we go” does not mean “I don’t pay attention to the process, but I feel a certain indifference to the outcome”). There is also a third context of minding, one in which giving...


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