In Colette's own words

Colette had a gift for the bon mot. Most of these come from "Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette" by Judith Thurman.

"What lots of children! Shall I have as many children as that one day? And who is the gentleman who will inspire me to perpetrate them with him?"


"Claudine in Paris," 1901

"When my body thinks … everything else falls silent. At those moments my whole skin has a soul."

"Retreat From Love," 1907

"Me, a feminist? You've got to be kidding. The suffragettes disgust me.... You know what the suffragettes deserve? The whip and the harem."

Paris-Théâtre, 1910

"Behold that legally, familiarly, and in literature I have only one name, which is my own. Did it not take 30 years of my life to reach that point? I'll end up believing it wasn't too much to pay."

"Break of Day," 1928

"I have stared so often at that great landscape, the human face, that I don't hesitate to tramp across it."

"Avatars," 1932

"Is it always like this the first night? This bruised, unsatisfactory feeling? This half-success, half-disaster?"

"The Cat," 1933

"And you, is it that you've got no hunger, or that you've got no imagination?"

"Divine," 1935

"What do I know of the man I love and who wants me? When we have risen from a brief embrace, or even from a long night, we will have to begin to live next to each other."


"The Pure and the Impure," 1941

"So many women want to be corrupted, and so few are chosen!"

"The Pure and the Impure," 1941

"Old age is an uncomfortable piece of furniture."

Letter, 1949

"My birthday is assuming the proportions of a scandal."

Letter, 1952

— Susan Spano