Chiche, Férey, Sansal … Their bedside pocket in confinement time


Coetzee, Despentes and Chateaubriand are among the recommendations of the authors we interviewed on their favorite reading in these troubled times.

Sarah Chiche, writer

"Twilight Lands", by J. M. Coetzee

"The first time I read the two short stories that make up this book by Coetzee was in 2001; ever since, I've kept coming back to it. They shocked me as big as reading the Terrier, of Kafka, and come close to it by their theme: the other as a threat, the outside world as an infection to be eradicated.

In the first of two texts, "The Vietnam Project", a small American office worker, persuaded to possess the ultimate weapon which would make it possible to subjugate the Vietnamese by the means of psychological war, starts a delirium of persecution. In the second, "The Tale of Jacobus Coetzee", an explorer puffed up with certainties will engage, in South Africa of the XVIIIe century, in the name of the delusional certainty of committing good, to bloody acts. Two men. Two eras. The same way to invent a mission from scratch, to adorn yourself with a grandiose self, and to sink into paranoid madness. And then there is this superb writing that burns like ice burns. "

"Terres de crépuscule" (Dusklands), by J. M. Coetzee, tranhooly-news.comd from English (Australia) by Catherine Lauga du Plessis, Points, 186 p., € 6.10.

Last published work: "Les Enténébrés" (Seuil, 2019).

Caryl Férey, writer

"King Kong theory", by Virginie Despentes

"I didn’t wait for the #metoo movement to get King kong theory, by Virginie Despentes, on the bookcase above my bed. Because I was raised by women, to the caress, because I lived in my flesh the rape of my first love. Because the thriller is about political injustices and not about Cluedo. Because when the book came out (in 2006), women were already the outlet victims of weak men. Because Virginie Despentes was not the first to defend the cause but the first to write it with this fire and this "rock" rage. Because she was not sparing her gender (see pages "Who is the real whore?"). Because his speech is too brutal to describe humans in black or white and alienate some of the guys who see a little further than the end of their bazaar.

Because there are changes you don't get when you ask politely. Because the same "powerful", most often proud of their old immunity, not only do not keep a low profile, but continue. Because I met Adèle Haenel, my favorite actress with Yolande Moreau, and that, even if I had the impression that she was going to freak out, I like her guts, like those who are not satisfied not their victim status.

Because in these times of social and sometimes emotional scarcity (I am fortunately confined with chicks, pussy included), it is good to feel united. Because I was going to meet Dame Despentes at the Ausgang concert (rapper Casey's group) that should have happened in April, and that’s fucked up too. "

"King Kong Theory", by Virginie Despentes, Livre de Poche, 154 p., € 6.10; digital € 7.

Last book published: "Never again alone" (Gallimard, "Série noire", 2018).

Philippe Roger, historian and critic

"The Great Fear in the Mountains" by Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz

"What better antidote to worry than pure dread?" Against the vague soul, we will therefore prescribe the bewitching story of Ramuz The Great fear in the mountains (1926) – novel of fear, contagion, contagion of fear.

The Sasseneire pasture is in the “Bad country”, far above the village, under the glacier. Fateful things used to happen there that made him abandon him. However, the villagers, short of grassland, decide to exploit it again. There will be seven to ride. Seven to see the glacier "forthcoming (their) meets, with a nasty color, an ugly pale and green color ”.

Very quickly, things go wrong. Unexplainable incidents, strange signs bring the terrors of yesteryear back to life. Suddenly it’s a disaster: "disease" hit the beasts. Below, the village learns and defends itself. "Disease" must stay on the cursed meadow, with the shepherds. The trails are guarded day and night.

Here are those from above tripled trapped: by the epidemic, which strews the meadow of rotting carcasses; by the glacier, which seems to prohibit the escape by blocking the route of the summits; by their relatives and friends, who await them below, the loaded rifle. In love, one of the seven will try to break the evil spell without escaping misfortune.

Ramuz cut a black diamond there. And his terrible story of being locked up in the open air should console today’s confined to being prisoners of only four walls. "

"La Grande Peur dans la montagne", by Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz, Grasset, "Cahiers rouges", 210 p., € 8.20; digital € 6.

Philippe Roger directs the review "Critique". Last issue published: "Alain de Libera, reader of the Black Notebooks", March 2020, Minuit, 96 p., 12 €; digital on Cairn. info.

Martin Rueff, poet and philosopher

"Memories from beyond the grave", by Chateaubriand

"In the fourth part of Memories from beyond the grave (book I, chapter 16), Chateaubriand (1768-1848) distinguishes two ages of the epidemic, two tragicomedies, one divine, the other human. On the one hand, the religious centuries in which the scourge "Widens in the poetry of manners and beliefs" : a death sheet floats at the top of the towers of Notre-Dame, the churches fill with a groaning crowd, the Miserere sounds in the streets. On the other, modern cholera defeats this device: "None of this: cholera has happened to us in a century of philanthropy, disbelief, newspapers, material administration. (…) However, cholera had its terror: a bright sun, the indifference of the crowd, the ordinary train of life, which went on everywhere, gave these plague days a new character and a different kind of terror. ”

In chapter 15, Chateaubriand mentioned his predecessors, nosograph writers of epidemics: Thucydides, Lucretia, Virgil, Ovid, Lucain and, among the moderns, Boccaccio and Manzoni. Is the coronavirus an unimaginative plague? How can we characterize the century in which we are coming? How to assess its moral and political effects? How to evoke his mocking air and the responses, sometimes serious, sometimes sly that we oppose him? How can we represent the terror it inspires?

First of all respectful of the dead and attentive to the sick as well as to all those whom the disease separates and affects, we must question the century of the coronavirus and try its poem. "

"Memories from beyond the grave. Anthologie ”, by François René de Chateaubriand, Paperback, 512 p., € 7.10; digital € 5.50.

Last published work: “La Jonction” (Nous, 2019)

Boualem Sansal, writer

"The War of Fire", by J.-H. Rosny elder

"To the young people that containment will surely deliver their feet and fists linked to tablets and other servo devices, I say: put them away quickly and read this fabulous novel, The fire war. It tells of the triumph of life and the birth of our civilization.

I am sure of my coup, from the first pages, they will be snapped up and transported to another world, as far away as possible from ours which threatens to collapse under the blows of the coronavirus and the repercussions of our caries. They will see the world as it was in its beginnings, a hundred thousand years ago, virgin, magical, innocent, so promising and so threatening. For the little humanity that populated it, possession of fire was vital.

The Oulhamrs watched over the embers day and night in a cage guarded by four women and two warriors. Following a clash with an enemy tribe, the cage is destroyed. For them, it was a disaster, as the rise of the Covid-19 is for us. Three warriors were appointed to go around the world to seek fire and bring it back to the village. What they will do after a thousand and one adventures. Better, by a young woman freed from the claws of a horde, our brave warriors will learn a lot of revolutionary things, love, its games and its jealousies, and, especially, what they had braved so many dangers for, they will learn to make fire by friction of two pieces of wood.

Thus began our civilization, now threatened with extinction. Primitive beings knew how to invent it, to preserve it and to transmit it, it would be most stupid that today we are incapable of doing the same. "

"The War of Fire", by J.-H. Rosny Aîné, Folio, 288 p., € 5; digital from € 1.

Last published work: "The Train of Erlingen or The Metamorphosis of God" (Gallimard, 2018).

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