THE TAXI • Violette Leduc
Farrar, Strauss & Giroux / 1972
Hardcover / 87 pages

Before “La Bâtarde” became all the rage in Paris in 1964, the late Violette Leduc had been a journey man novelist with several books to her credit and no audience to speak of. But “La Bâtarde,” an extremely graphic memoir of the au thor's love life, made her famous overnight. She was acclaimed as a new star in the tradition of great literary exhibitionists that started with Casanova. In “La Bâtarde” Violette Leduc discovered a potent mixture of bisexual poetry and crude realism which she continued to explore in succeeding works (“The Woman With the Little Fox,” “The rèse and Isabelle,” “Mad in Pursuit”) until her position now is firmly es tablished far to the erotic left of Simone de Beauvoir in the French wing of women's liberation, an old tradition dating back to such stars as Madame de Sëtal and George Sand.

By Violette Leduc. Translated From the French by Helen Weaver. 87 pp. New Yorh: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $4.95.

Violette Leduc's last book, “The Taxi,” was something of a departure from her previous work, and it is a remarkable achievement. In “The Taxi” she takes a vacation from lit erary exhibitionism to tell a mar velous fairy tale of incest and sexual initiation. The story is cast in the form of a dialogue between brother and sister in the back seat of a taxi cab which they have transformed into a bower of love. The girl has em broidered curtains for the windows. The seat is covered by a mattress. Beside them sits a hamper of iced champagne, along with paté and truffles. All day they talk to each other, as only the French can, ec statically, elegiacly, tenderly, while they make love like two dryads in a tale by Ovid.

The fairytale quality of the story never flags. With well‐bred exact ness, he and she have planned this day for months. First they learned all about sex from a prostitute named Cytise and a pimp named Dane, hired for the purpose. Meth odically, they snitched Aunt Marie's jewelry, piece by piece, to finance their caper. Lastly, they found a will ing cabby, whom they paid hand somely to drive all day through the streets of Paris, while they consum mate their forbidden passion, like Tristan and Isolde in the Temple of Love, or more pointedly like Emma Bovary and Rodolphe rolling in their closed carriage through the streets of Rouen.

There is a comic undertone in this petit‐bourgeois thoroughness. But the poetry of adolescent sexuality, which Violette Leduc renders so beautiful ly, the defiant complicity of two young bodies, the mirrorlike respon siveness of the incest itself, makes the comedy infinitely tender. Now and then, he or she raises the cur tain and reads the street signs: Gare Saint Lazare, Rue de la Convention, Rue de Vaugirard. It is raining, or it has just rained. The shops are crowded, or they are empty. But the taxicab glides without stop along the streets of the city like a fabulous island, with the lovers inside it cloaked in their invisibility. The story throughout is simple and resonant as a folk myth, although Violette Leduc has rendered it with all the liveliness of contemporary dialogue.

︎ Condition note: This is a used book in Very Good condition. Dustjacket is in Good condition with some fading to top of front cover / Binding is square and solid / interior pages are free of marks or underlinings