The Pure and the Impure (New York Review Books Classics)
Colette herself considered The Pure and the Impure her best book, "the nearest I shall ever come to writing an autobiography." This guided tour of the erotic netherworld with which Colette was so intimately acquainted begins in the darkness and languor of a fashionable opium
The Pure and the Impure by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette with introduction by Judith Thurman (Literature/Gay Studies). Recommended.
Colette believed The Pure and the Impure was her best work. I can't judge, not having read anything of hers but a few short stories, but this collection of her observations about human attitudes toward relationships and sexuality is insightful and timeless. It is also difficult and obscure at times, perhaps because of the translation and because there is no real structure to such a collection.
Thanks to her milieu, her position in it, and her willingness to seek the story, Colette could draw upon the most interesting people of her time-the givers and the takers. From the older woman who publicly fakes an orgasm while self-pleasuring in an opium house to gladden the heart of her young, sickly lover to the roué who exclaims of women, "They allow us to be their master in the sex act, but never their equal. That is what I cannot forgive them"...
The Pure and the Impure (New York Review Books Classics) is one of best selling in Women category.