Henri Calet: La Belle Lurette [A Long Time Ago]

The latest addition to my website is Henri Calet‘s La Belle Lurette [A Long Time Ago]. This is a grim autobiographical novel about a boy, born in 1900. His parents are both criminals (money forging, prostitution, petty theft). His father is violent, frequently hitting his mother before running off with her daughter from a previous relationship. When World War I starts mother, son and mother’s new Belgian boyfriend flee to Belgium where boyfriend is arrested and mother and son have to flee the Germans to the Netherlands, before returning to Brussels. Both indulge in bad habits – sex and crime – before continuing the same life in Paris after the war. Calet himself continued his bad habits after the events of this book and it is easy to see why.

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