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Colette and her Sexual Abuse (Incest) Victim Who Fell Madly In Love With Her

Sixty-four years after her death, French writer and libertine, Colette, has once again been resurrected for our entertainment pleasure. With the Autumn release of the 2018 film starring Keira Knightley as Colette, I am reminded once again of something I’d much rather forget: step-mother/step-son incest. It’s not actually portrayed in the film but articles about Colette inspired by the movie make sure we never forget: Colette seduced and bedded her teenage step-son, Bertrand de Jouvenel. For the rest of his life, she actively or passively made his marriages and romantic relationships as transient as their affair had been.

Yet he blindly loved her passionately for the rest of his life.

With the lovely twinkle Keira Knightley always brings to her roles, it’s easy to see Colette as something other than she truly was. An acquaintance describes her in this way.

She was a terrible woman. Absolute, utter hell. She hated me on first sight. She was lying on a chaise-longue like an odalisque, with green shadow on her cat’s eyes and a mean, bitter little mouth…. having looked me over maliciously, she insisted that I pencil in my eyebrows – which were so blonde as to be non-existent – using a black crayon, so that the lines almost met in the middle. Well, I did it. Why? Because she told me to. And it was three days before some kind friend said to me, “My dear, what dreadful thing have you done to your face?” She was jealous of me…

Colette’s jealousy knew no bounds. Her conquests were legendary, even including her husband’s mistress. But nowhere did she wreak more havoc than in the life of her sexual abuse victim, her incest conquest, her statutory rape of her own step-son.

He described their first sexual encounter to a friend:

[Colette] intercepted him on the stairs as he was going up to bed. He offered his cheek for a goodnight kiss, but she insisted on his mouth…. Soon afterwards, she told the 16-year-old virgin bluntly: ‘It’s time for you to become a man.’ That night, he found his stepmother waiting on the landing.

He was sixteen. She was nearly fifty.

This was not a one-time fling nor was it a one-time act to spite her philandering husband and his ex-wife. Colette took her step-son as her lover. Young and deeply impressionable, he fancied himself wildly in love with his step-mother, yet she withheld any declaration of love for him.

Many believe that Colette was also infected with syphilis. It was something of a fad in Paris to contract ‘the pox’. With its propensity to drive its sufferers to madness, syphilis was seen as a boon to creativity by artists and writers. If she did indeed have one or more STIs (and how could she not), then Colette probably passed that incurable disease to Bertrand, and his future wives and lovers, as well.

Bertrand’s parents spent the next five years trying to separate Bertrand from the wiles of Paris’ most famous female libertine. In 1924, they introduced him to the lovely young young heiress, Mlle de Ricqlès, who would become his fiancé. On the night of his engagement dinner, Bertrand went to see Colette. Finally, she told him ‘Je t’aime’ and he abandoned both his dinner and his fiancé for the woman who, in our modern understanding and law, would certainly be called his abuser, if not his rapist.

Later, Bertrand became engaged to Marcelle Prat, yet unsurprisingly, that marriage did not last. Nor did his marriage to Hélène. Always in the background was Colette, neither willing to commit to her young conquest nor willing for a lovely young woman of wealth and beauty to have him. According to the famous war correspondent and Bertrand’s lover, Martha Gellhorn, Colette ‘still thought of Bertrand as personal property’.

What Bertrand could never see was plain to others. Martha Gellhorn recalls meeting Colette and wrote, ‘Bertrand adored her all his life. He never understood when he was in the presence of evil.’

Enjoy the film Colette, but remember: for all she bore, for all she endured, she didn’t triumph. Instead of rising above, she lowered herself. She sunk even further, low enough to seduce her own step-son and effectively ruin his life.

Colette and her Sexual Abuse (Incest) Victim Who Fell Madly In Love With Her


Ivy Blonwyn

Ivy Blonwyn is a Welsh freelance writer and photographer. She and her husband have been trying, unsuccessfully, to start a family for several years. Ivy can relate to the pain, confusion, jealousy and sense of injustice that accompanies infertility. But she also knows the pain of being a step-mother to children who’s vindictive birth mother has systematically employed Parental Alienation to distance them from their birth-father, Ivy’s husband, Rhys. Her articles, often illustrated with her photos, are intended to validate and comfort those who suffer from infertility, Parental Alienation and the pain of sexual abuse. She finds solace in indulging her passion for plein air photography during long tramps with her husband through the fields, hills and castles of Cardiff. Follow Ivy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fullheartemptyarms or contact her at ivyblonwyn@gmail.com.


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APA Reference
Blonwyn, I. (2019). Colette and her Sexual Abuse (Incest) Victim Who Fell Madly In Love With Her. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 15, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/full-heart/2019/01/colette-and-her-sexual-abuse-incest-victim-who-fell-madly-in-love-with-her/

 

Last updated: 17 Jan 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network (blogs.psychcentral.com) prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.