Deforges, Régine 1935- (Régine Marie Leone Deforges)
Deforges, Régine 1935- (Régine Marie Leone Deforges)
Born August 15, 1935, in Montmorillon, France; daughter of Clement and Bernadette Deforges; married Pierre Wiazemsky, 1984; children: (with Jean-Jacques Pauvert, a publisher), Franck, (with Wiazemsky) Léa. Education: Attended Institute of St-Martail.
Writer. Worked as a bookseller, 1960-76; Editions Régine Deforges (publisher), founder and chair, beginning 1968. Prix Femina, member of panel of judges, beginning 1984; consultant to French Ministry of Culture.
PEN Club, Society des Gens de lettres de France (chair, beginning 1988).
Maison de la Presse, 1981; decorated officer, National Order of Merit, 1981, and chevalier, French Legion of Honor, 1992.
Mado Dondedieu/Henriette D'Epernay, L'Or du Temp (Paris, France), 1971.
La fille du docteur Ziegenbock, L'Or du Temps (Paris, France), 1971.
O m'a dit: entretiens avec Pauline Réage, 1975, translation by Sabine d'Estrée published as Confessions of O: Conversations with Pauline Réage, 1979.
Blanche et Lucie (memoir), Fayard (France, Paris), 1977.
(With Marcel Jouandeau) La vie comme une fête, J.J. Pauvert (Paris, France), 1977.
Le cahier volé (novel), Fayard (Paris, France), 1978.
Lola et quelques autres, Editions J. (Paris, France), 1979.
(And director) Contes pervers (screenplay; also known as "Erotic Tales" and "Perverse Tales"), Fayard (Paris, France), 1980.
La Bicyclette bleue (novel), Ramsay (Paris, France), 1981, translation by Ros Schwartz published as The Blue Bicycle, 1986.
La Révolte des nonnes (novel), La Table Ronde (Paris, France), 1981.
Léa au pays des dragons, Editions Garnier (Paris, France), 1982.
Les enfants de Blanche (novel), Fayard (Paris France), 1982.
Cent un, avenue Henri Martin (novel), Ramsay (Paris, France), 1983, translation by Elizabeth Fairley Miller published as Léa, L. Stuart (Secaucus, NJ), 1987.
Le Diable en rit encore (novel), Ramsay (Paris, France), 1985, translation by Elizabeth Fairley Mueller published as The Devil Laughs Again, 1988.
Sur les bords de la Gartemps (novel), Fayard (Paris, France), 1985.
Pour l'amour de Marie Salat (novel), Librarie Generale Française (Paris, France), 1986.
Sous le ciel de Novgorod (novel), Fayard (Paris, France), 1988.
Ma cuisine, Ramsey (Paris, France), 1989.
Le couvent de soeur Isabelle, Seuil (Paris, France), 1991.
Noir tango, Loisirs (Paris, France), 1991.
Rendez-vous à Paris, Editions Plume (Paris, France), 1992.
Léa et les Fantomes, Seuil (Paris, France), 1992.
Rue de la soie, 1947-1949, Fayard (Paris, France), 1994.
Roger Stephane, ou, La passion d'admirer, Fayard (Paris, France), 1995.
La derniere colline: 1950-1954, Fayard (Paris, France), 1996.
Pele-mele: chroniques de l'Humanite, Fayard (Paris, France), 1998.
Cuba libre: 1955-1959, Fayard (Paris, France), 1998.
Rencontres ferroviaires, Fayard (Paris, France), 1999.
Camilo, Fayard (Paris, France), 1999.
Alger, ville blanche, 1959-1960, Fayard (Paris, France), 2001.
(Author of text) Faces, photographs by Lam-Duc Hiên, Anako (Fontenay-sous-Bois, France), 2001.
Les généraux du créspuscule, Fayard (Paris, France), 2003.
Le collier de perles, Albin Michel (Paris, France), 2004.
Ce siècle avait trois ans: journal de l'année 2003, Seuil (Paris, France), 2004.
(With Chantal Chawaf) L'érotique des mots, Rocher (Monaco), 2004.
La Hire, ou, La colère de Jehanne (novel), Fayard (Paris, France), 2005.
(With Sonia Rykiel) Casanova était une femme, illustrated by Claire Bretécher, Calmann-Levy (Paris, France), 2006.
Deforges's trilogy of war novels (La Bicyclette bleue; Cent un, avenue Henri Martin; and Le Diable en rit encore) was translated into several languages, including Japanese and Korean, Hebrew, Slovene, and Icelandic.
Novels by Deforges that have been adapted as screenplays include Le cahier volé, 1993. The television presentations L'Enfant des loups, 1991, and La Bicyclette bleue, 2000, were also adapted from her writings.
Régine Deforges has written books that run nearly the entire possible gamut of literary genres, from essays on erotica, feminism and politics, to children's books, novels, "how-to" books on French cooking, interior design and photography, a play and even a songbook. However, it was with the 1982 publication of La Bicyclette bleue that Deforges finally attracted international recognition as a contemporary literary figure. Ironically, it was also that same book that landed her in court with a plagiarism suit filed by the estate of American author Margaret Mitchell.
The first book in a trilogy, La Bicyclette bleue takes place during the World War II years, 1939-42. Léa, the daughter of a rich wine grower in Bordeaux, stands by while her childhood sweetheart, Laurent, marries her cousin Camille. She tends to her cousin's pregnancy while Laurent is away on the front while holding down the family estate of Montillac where Germans are billeted, cycling through the occupied checkpoints with messages from the Resistance.
In December 1990, a court of appeals in Paris overturned the lower court's plagiarism fine of 4.8 million dollars. Confronted with these fines and stiff legal fees both in France and the United States, the owners of the publishing house, Ramsay, sold the imprint to Deforges for the symbolic sum of one French franc.
The case did arouse considerable concern in France as La Bicyclette bleue had been conceived as a pastiche, the publisher having asked Deforges to write a World War II story on the skeleton plot of Gone with the Wind. Far from concealing this intention, noted the appeals court verdict, the French author in a preface acknowledged the "involuntary collaboration" of Margaret Mitchell. In fact, only the first seventy-four pages were found to have been borrowed from the structure of the American novel. After that, and in the two subsequent sequels, Deforges carries her heroine through German-occupied France and the Liberation. Her subsequent installments of the series, Cent un, avenue Henri Martin and Le Diable en rit encore, received less overall literary acclaim, criticisms varying in degree of disappointment, yet each noting Deforges's dearth of depth of character. Deforges's war trilogy has nevertheless been widely translated.
Much of Deforges's work seems to mirror her own life. She is no stranger to brushes with authority; her novel Le cahier volé was based on her experience in a Catholic junior high school in southwest France when the diary of her infatuation with another schoolgirl was found and publicized, leading to her eventual expulsion. Indeed, much of Deforges's literary work is noted for its treatment of sexuality and homosexuality within society and the lives of the characters themselves.
In Blanche et Lucie, a family-album reminiscence of the narrator's first sexual experiences as a small girl might be viewed as cautionary examples of child abuse by some, which Deforges seems to dispel by affirming their value with regrets that they went no further. Such sexual independence is again evident in Pour l'amour de Marie Salat, a fictional series of early-century letters between married women who become lovers in a village. In her preface to the book, Deforges claims to have discovered some of the correspondence on postcards in a village junk shop.
Deforges's first job was as a temporary cashier in a bank in Conakry, French Guinea, where her father was posted. She considered herself a femme-enfant, a ‘woman-child’, during her early adult years when she married, unsuccessfully, as a result of losing a game of dice, then gave birth to her first child at the age of twenty-one while still convalescing after a year in a tubercular ward. She found a nurse for the child and resumed her independence.
Deforges's first encounter with literature came when she was working in a bookshop on the Champs-Elysees. The shop was a novel French venture that combined book and magazine departments with a restaurant and tobacco shop. When asked to work the late shift every night, Deforges secured a position at a similar rival shop where she met a number of writers and editors, including Jean-Jacques Pauvert, then a publisher of rare and often scandalous books, who would become the father of her second child.
Deforges became an employee of Pauvert, promoting his books around the country. A libertarian, Pauvert specialized in new editions of surrealist classics, political pamphlets of historical interest, and erotica. In 1968, Deforges began her own mail-order business selling erotic literature. When she was unable to locate much material, she followed Pauvert's advice and began publishing her own, the first book of which was confiscated after forty-eight hours. Deforges once estimated that ninety-percent of her books have been banned in one way or another, resulting in her constant, losing struggle with the courts where she would notoriously appear dressed in white. However, what eventually ended her business was not her erotica, but a series of pamphlets on French politicians that Deforges wrote and published, writings that frightened her distributor, causing her business to cease. However, it was this very series that led Deforges to her marriage with Pierre Wiazemsky, a political cartoonist for the liberal weekly Nouvel Observateur whom she had employed to illustrate the pamphlets.
Deforges went on to open another bookstore on the Left Bank and financed a second publishing venture by selling the proceeds from her feminist library. The first book she signed was an interview with the pseudonymous author of The Story of O. This was followed by two autobiographical novels and a series of movie scenarios that became a small book of short stories.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Deforges, Régine, Blanche et Lucie, Fayard (France, Paris), 1977.
Bloomsbury Review, January, 1989, review of The Devil Laughs Again, p. 23.
Booklist, December 15, 1994, review of Rue de la soie, 1947-1949, p. 741.
Châtelaine, July, 1989, review of Lola et quelques autres, p. 22.
Choice, July, 1980, review of Confessions of O: Conversations with Pauline Réage, p.
French Review, March, 1986, review of La Bicyclette bleue trilogy and Le Diable en rit encore, p. 643; March, 1987, review of Le Bicyclette bleue trilogy, p. 502; April, 1987, review of Sur les bords de la Gartempe, p. 724.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 1988, review of The Devil Laughs Again, p. 1485.
L'Express International, July 7, 1994, Eliane Gauthier, review of Rue de la soie, 1947-1949, p. 64.
Library Journal, September 1, 1979, review of Confessions of O, p. 1698; June 15, 1986, Andrea Lee Shuey, review of The Blue Bicycle, p. 76.
Publishers Weekly, September 3, 1979, review of Confessions of O, p. 82; April 11, 1986, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Blue Bicycle, p. 79; September 25, 1987, Sybil Steinberg, review of Léa, p. 94; October 23, 1987, review of The Blue Bicycle, p. 53; November 4, 1988, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Devil Laughs Again, p. 70.
Spirale, November-December, 2000, "Entre femmes," p. 20.
Village Voice, February 25, 1980, review of Confessions of O, p. 35.
West Coast Review of Books, September, 1986, review of The Blue Bicycle, p. 31.
West Coast Review of Books Annual, 1988, review of Léa, p. 44; 1989, review of The Devil Laughs Again, p. 22.