The Vagabond Essay - Critical Essays


Critical Context

The Vagabond was the first novel that Colette wrote without the actual or claimed collaboration of her husband, Henri Gauthier-Villars, commonly known as Willy. Already a noted and admired writer at the time of its publication, with this novel Colette was acknowledged by French readers as one of the most prominent and talented writers of her time. The book is autobiographical in many ways—the facts of the heroine’s life, the character of her first husband, and the qualities of the heroine herself.

Colette creates a world that has the authenticity of experience and the impact of shared emotions and ideas in The Vagabond. As one critic states, “The Vagabond...reads as a remarkably just and debonair study of a female consciousness waking to the possibility of independence—a feminist novel to shame, in its subtlety, the feminists.”

The language of the book is richly sensuous, full of physical and natural images, and both sensitive and straightforward. The voice of the author is as distinctive and distinguished as was the woman who wrote the book. Although it is not one of her most popular or best-known works, it deserves a wide and attentive audience.