La Bâtarde

La Bâtarde

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By Violette Leduc

Foreward by Simone de Beauvoir

Introduction by Deborah Levy

Translated by Derek Coltman

ISBN: 9781628974577

Publication Date: 6/27/23

Nominated for the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Femina, La Bâtarde is an obsessive and revealing self-portrait of a remarkable woman humiliated by the circumstances of her birth and her physical appearance. 

La Bâtarde relates Violette Leduc’s long search for identity through a series of agonizing and passionate love affairs with both men and women. Upon first publication it was championed by Simeone de Beauvoir and earned Leduc comparisons to Jean Genet for the frank depiction of her sexual escapades and amoral behavior. A confession that contains portraits of several famous French authors, this book is more than just a scintillating memoir—like the work of Henry Miller, Leduc’s brilliant writing style and attention to language transform this autobiography into a work of art. This edition includes the original foreword by de Beauvoir and an introduction by Deborah Levy.


“A woman is descending into the most secret part of herself, and telling us about all she finds there with an unflinching sincerity, as though there were no one listening.” —Simone de Beauvoir

“Notoriety aside, Leduc is first and foremost a first-rate writer. Not someone who just tells a provocative story and is unafraid to reveal the most offensive parts of her personality and of her experience, but someone who is in love with words, struggles with them, wrestles with language, dies for adjectives, is tortured by her search for le mot juste.” Women's Review of Books

“There are a number of similarities, both literary and personal, between Violette Leduc and Jean Genet. . . . Both are completely indifferent to conventional moral values, and describe their thefts, homosexual exploits or black market profiteering with a strange innocence that is only partly the result of a deliberate pose.”Times Literary Supplement

“The experiences Leduc records exemplify, without intellectualizing, many of the ideas of Sartre, Genet and Simone de Beauvoir. Her insights are sparks thrown off by the striking of her senses and emotions. They define without structuring.” The New Leader

La Bâtarde is a success based not on wit, wisdom or literary grace but on the unpleasant pleasure many people find in watching someone else behave shamelessly.” Time

"La Bâtarde is one of the most extraordinary books to have come out of France in some time." —Kirkus Reviews

"A bestseller in France at its first publication, Violette Leduc's autobiographical La Bâtarde is an oft-overlooked classic of feminist literature." —The New Inquiry

Biographical Information

Violette Leduc (1907-1972) has been referred to as "France's greatest unknown writer." Admired by Jean Genet, Nathalie Sarraute, and Albert Camus, Leduc was championed by Simone de Beauvoir when she published her scandalous autobiography La Batarde (1964). Like Therese and Isabelle, many of her audacious novels are largely inspired by her life. She is the subject of Martin Provost's biopic, Violette (2013).

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) was a French writer and existentialist philosopher best known for her trailblazing work of feminist philosophy The Second Sex. She was the recipient of many awards including the 1954 Prix Goncourt, the 1975 Jerusalem Prize, and the 1978 Austrian State Prize for European Literature. 

Deborah Levy writes fiction, plays, and poetry. She is the author of highly praised novels, including The Man Who Saw Everything (longlisted for the Booker Prize), Hot Milk and Swimming Home (both Man Booker Prize finalists), The Unloved, and Billy and Girl, the acclaimed story collection Black Vodka, and her ‘living’ autobiography trilogy: Things I Don't Want to Know, The Cost of Living and Real Estate. Levy lives in London and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Derek Coltman has translated such French works as Marie-Claire Blais's A Season in the Life of Emmanuel, Jean Varenne's Yoga and the Hindu Tradition, and Violette Leduc's La Batarde. He lives in England.