Title: Camille Claudel: A Novel
Author: Alma H. Bond
Author Website: http://alma_bond.tripod.com/
Publisher: Publish America
Website of Publisher: www.publishamerica.com
Publication date: 2006
Length: 244 pages
“The physical, psychological and spiritual transformation of the clay has been launched in the frenzy of creation.” (Page 42)
Locked up in Montdevergues Asylum in 1943, Camille Claudel recalls her life as a combination of both happy memories and horrific nightmares. From the injustice of her lover, Auguste Rodin to the betrayal of her brother Paul of who lived a rich and varied life of fame and fortune that should have belonged to Camille herself.
Translated by fictional William Barrett, Professor Emeritus of Classic French Literature, he attempts to transcribe Camile’s memoir after viewing one of her exhibits, and remembering a forgotten case of manuscripts and soap carvings that had come his way during World War II, and has been up in his attic ever since.
As Rodin’s student, and then his mistress, Camille soon learns some harsh lessons of life as their romance slowly changes, and deteriorates with adverse affects. Her needy brother doesn’t help either, turning treacherous by taking what is rightfully hers and calling it his own.
The author, Alma H. Bond, puts in novel form her own words about Camille’s life using her own psychoanalysis and writing skills to reveal what could have gone on in the fragile mind of talented sculptor Camille. A young and impressionable girl thrown into a man’s world where the creativity of a woman would be expected to be dropped at the very mention of marriage, children and homemaking. But not her, not without a fight!
Camille: A Novel, is broken into foreword, prologue and three parts – Part one – The Early Years (1864 – 1881), part two – The Rodin Years (1881 – 1912) and part three The Asylum Years (1913-1943) At the back of the book can be found a bibliography,addendum and a glossary of French words that is very useful.
We see Camille’s search for religion and family history through the author’s delightful prose with this fictional account of Camille’s life that was an engrossing, and pleasurable read. With an incestuous relationship with her brother and a spiteful jealous sister, it’s no wonder Camille struggled with her increasing paranoia. Not to mention the degenerate mental health system back in the Victorian era, very few visits from her family, sedation and an inevitable loss of reality. My heart went out to her. Camille was clearly way ahead of her time and not only grossly mistreated, but misunderstood in many ways.
It’s an inspiring (albeit it quite sad) biography with a fictional twist, recreated with a mixture of faction and pure indulging fiction. Although much of the facts and figures I assume are based more on her real life than the author’s imagination. This book in itself, is not merely a work of art, but an embodiment of the sculptor’s heart, soul and creative energies! A psychoanalytic decent into madness has never been so much fun.
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