Free Public Library
in 1944, Gigi is a novella by the
French writer Colette.
It is about a wealthy cultured man of
fashion who discovers he is in love with a
young Parisian girl being groomed for a
career as a courtesan. Eventually they marry.
was the pen name of the French novelist
(January 28, 1873 – August 3, 1954). She
published around 50 novels, many with
autobiographical elements. Critics
divide her work and life into four phases:
the Claudine novels, life in the theater, the
politics of love, and reminiscences of youth
and family. Dominant themes of her writing
include the difficulty of reconciling a
woman’s struggle for independence and
self-realization with the insistent demands
of physical passion and the inevitable
requirements of adult relationships. Her
last novel and arguably her most popular, Gigi,
was made into a Broadway play and a highly
successful Hollywood motion picture.
acclaimed, Colette resisted labels, and her ouevre
is difficult for scholars to specify.
Is she a feminist writer?
A modernist? A woman’s writer?
used diminutives for many of her titles:
Minne, Mitsou, Chéri, Gigi.
What do these endearments tell us
about her books?
Would her books benefit from more
substantial titles today?
Gigi have anything to say today
about relationships between men and
women, or is it now just a quaint look at
an earlier era?
read Gigi as a young teen in the
late 1960s, and it influenced my world
Would you give Gigi to a
young teenager to read today?
Why or why not?
said, “A happy childhood is poor
preparation for human contacts.”
Has Gigi’s childhood been happy?
Is she prepared for an adulthood
of human contact?
said, “There is no need to waste pity
on young girls who are having their
moments of disillusionment, for in
another moment they will recover their
illusion.” Do Colette’s own words
summarize the theme of the novel?
Why or why not?
on one reviewer’s summation of an earlier
relationship between the older man and the
innocent girl is a study of the irregular and
sometimes sordid friendships of the
protagonist with women.”
How can the comment also apply to Gigi?
the Gigi as portrayed by Hepburn in the
Hollywood film with the Gigi whom Colette
created as a character.
Why do you think Colette selected
Hepburn to play the role?
this quote from Colette:
“A pretty little collection of
weaknesses and a terror of spiders are
our indispensable stock-in-trade with the
men.” Discuss the
inherent irony between the actual way
Gigi and the other women live and their
manners of studious refinement.
Are their manners affected or
said, “I love my past, I love my
present. I am not ashamed of what I have
had, and I am not sad because I no longer
She also said, “One keeps
forgetting old age up to the very brink
of the grave.” Think about the women
in the novel.
How do these statements apply to
is a very short novel.
Would it have benefited from more
detail and therefore more length?