Marie Bashkirtseff
Un hommage
Un homenaje
A homage

A woman of our time .

No, it is not chance what leads me to the National Library. It is a call, as if the voice of a woman condemned to silence since 1884 tried to meet me.

I turn the leaves of the manuscript of her Diary, the eighty-four handwritten notebooks and writing books, and my surprise becomes amazement, pain, anger. And I don't hear the sound that announces the closing of the room, and I don't recognize someone who greets me while passing, I only listen to that voice that has been oppressed for so much time. The content I discover in these pages crammed with Marie Bashkirtseff writing is not precisely what I read in the several editions of the Diary. Someone changed her date of birth, someone deleted the expressions that considered not very correct, someone censored whole passages probably considered indecent, someone softened every expression that meant a rebellion against the limits imposed on women condition. (...) Even her family, her environment were changed. The statue of the girl prodigy, that of a pale and pure girl breaks into pieces. Moussia has only existed in the imagination of the writers that created an image of suffering about her. A woman that lives, loves, creates appears behind that pink heroine of a library. Behind the angelic and bare creature there is a woman body that shouts her desires.

The book that gave birth to the legend was expurgated, falsified. From a manuscript where nothing is hidden, someone made an inaccurate and false reflection. Marie Bashkirtseff, a prisoner of the role that someone assigned to her in the book since childhood is reduced, in this softened Diary, to the level of an exemplary girl… for a marriage of that time. (...)

Because the original text of the Diary is not available to the general public, I wanted to abandon the legend in order to revive the genuine Marie Bashkirtseff, a woman who was a victim of a inattentive destiny that gave birth to her before her time. A woman who was a prisoner of her time, a woman of our time.


Colette Cosnier

(From the preface of the book "Marie Bashkirtseff. Un portrait sans retouches" by Colette Cosnier, 1985. Pierre Horay editor, 350 pages)