Sunday, November 20, 2011

Writers on Belly Dance: Simone De Beauvoir (1)

Photo from The Guardian
Yes! Simone De Beauvoir writes about dancing, belly dance specifically in her first novel, She Came to Stay I've had this book on my shelf for years; I picked it up first with Sarte's work, "The War Diaries." The bookseller at the Gotham Bookmart insisted I couldn't read one without the other, but I did until now. Set in Paris just before the Second World War, the novel is very much about the manner in which artists, in this case playwrights and writers, respond to impending war.

 This excerpt is from the second chapter and very much in theFrench Orientalist vein, but dance throughout this book represents freedom of the body and expression in a time when nothing else in life is certain:
 From Chapter 2 of Simone De Beauvoir's She Came to Stay:

"From the back of a Moorish cafe, seated on rough woolen cushions, Xaviere and Francoise were watching the Arab dancing girl.

 "I wish I could dance like that," said Xaviere. A light tremor passed over her shoulders and ran through her body.

 Francois smiled at her and was sorry that their day together was coming to an end. Xaviere had been delightful. "In the red-light district of Fez, Labrousse and I saw them dance naked," Francoise told her casually. "But that was a little too much like an anatomical demonstration."

"You've seen so many things," Xaviere said with a touch of bitterness.

 "So will you, one day."

 "I doubt it."