Violette Leduc Paul Zweig - Essay

Paul Zweig

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

"The Taxi" was something of a departure from [Violette Leduc's] previous work, and it is a remarkable achievement. In "The Taxi" she takes a vacation from literary exhibitionism to tell a marvelous 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…. All day they talk to each other, as only the French can, ecstatically, 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 exactness, he and she have planned this day for months….

There is a comic undertone in this petit-bourgeois thoroughness. But the poetry of adolescent sexuality, which Violette Leduc renders so beautifully, the defiant complicity of two young bodies, the mirrorlike responsiveness of the incest itself, makes the comedy infinitely tender…. The story throughout is simple and resonant as a folk myth, although Violette Leduc has rendered it with all the liveliness of contemporary dialogue.

Paul Zweig, "From the Far Erotic Left," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1972 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), July 9, 1972, p. 6.