4 August 2018

Charles-Louis Philippe: Dans la petite ville 1910; repr. 1997 with Introduction by Francine Masson

This is a collection of Charles-Louis Philippe's short stories which he had intended to publish in one volume, and although his untimely death at the age of thirty-five (probably from meningitis) intervened, André Gide ensured its publication the following year, 1910. This edition of the stories is published by Plein Chat's imprint of working-class authors, Collection voix d'en bas, and a number of them are obviously based on life in Cérilly where Philippe was born and spent his early days, and a number of them no doubt came from the stories that the author's father told him in Cérilly.

Here, the people may be working-class, but they are far from uncomplicated as in stories and novels often written by authors from a middle-class (or even working-class) background. These tales don't distort by nostalgia or glorification: they show a whole series of often contradictory emotions: jealousy, hatred, boredom, despair, love, childish mischief and its often negative effects, etc: Charles-Louis Philippe's stories show life in general.

And they are shown with a sense of humour as well as an eye for tragedy, irony, and misfortune. Charles-Louis Philippe deserves much more than the semi-oblivion he's been subjected to.

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