The image on left is of Henri Matisse’s La liseuse distraite (The Inattentive Reader), 1919, painted by the artist in a hotel in Nice. Bequeathed by Montague Shearman to Tate through the Contemporary Art Society in 1940, this painting is currently on display at Tate Liverpool as part of the museum’s DLA Piper Series: Constellations.
The text that follows is an excerpt of Marcelle Sauvageot’s Commentaire, 1933. Translated by Christine Schwartz Hartley and Anna Moschovakis from its original French to the English as a Commentary [A Tale], the novel, which was written just before the author’s passing at the age of 34, was published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2013.
I would talk to myself, but the austerity of the monologue wore me out sometimes; it is so much easier to have an accomplice who sympathizes, approves, listens; you gain in importance; the things you say become intangible, form a novelistic universe in which you assume a role. To what extent do you respect the absolute truth? Then these little novels are drained of their suffering; it settles, becomes an entity outside of the soul. From time to time, I needed this comfort. I stiffened to maintain my integrity; but, to assuage my suspicions, I thought by recounting my life I could relieve it of its anecdotal character: its arc would make itself visible to me. I needed a double.