We read “The Second Life”, a posthumous book by Philippe Sollers, about life, death, God and Houellebecq…

Llast year, on a sad May 5, Philippe Sollers left us. It is an understatement to say that we sorely miss his style, his irony and his intelligence and that the French spirit has lost one of its most relevant representatives. The one who had “entered the human world on Saturday November 28, 1936, at noon, in the immediate suburbs of Bordeaux, on the road to Spain”, as he recalled at the start of “A real novel. Memoirs »…

Llast year, on a sad May 5, Philippe Sollers left us. It is an understatement to say that we sorely miss his style, his irony and his intelligence and that the French spirit has lost one of its most relevant representatives. The one who had “entered the human world on Saturday November 28, 1936, at noon, in the immediate suburbs of Bordeaux, on the road to Spain”, as he recalled at the start of “A real novel. Memoirs”, is fortunately back in bookstores today with this aptly named “The Second Life”. A manuscript recorded in a green notebook that he dictated, reread and corrected. A final literary gesture whose first paragraph ends like this: “Death is an eternal condemnation to boredom. »


Bordeaux resident Philippe Sollers, who died a year ago, wrote this final text during the last weeks of his life.

Ré, Venice, Bordeaux…

Here we will hear echoes of certain pages of the remarkable “Secret Agent” published in 2021 in the beautiful collection Traits et Portraits by Colette Fellous at Mercure de France. We will find its tempo and its rhythm, the same lucid look at the beginning of this XXIe century “in full general disarray”, with an art of organized zigzag so specific to the author of “A curious solitude”, “Women” and “Fixed Passion”.

On the same subject

The writer Philippe Sollers is dead

A figure in the literary landscape, he published his first novel “Une Curieuse Solitude” in 1958. Philippe Sollers died at the age of 86

We never tire of listening to the voice of the one who found refuge in love, poetry or the music of Haydn played by Sviatoslav Richter in Mantua. To hear the words of this outlaw tasting clandestinity, joy, Venice, the Île de Ré, Bordeaux wine, Homer, the songs of Dante in Jacqueline Risset’s translation and so many other things Again. As the evening rises, Philippe Sollers sends a few more well-felt arrows to his contemporaries and to the society of his time. He thanks a chemist friend who graciously supplies him with “liveness pills”, small white tablets that are clearly effective. Evokes Michel Houellebecq, “the most famous French writer” or is saddened once again by the bankruptcy of a Catholic Church consumed by its ills.

Mischievous

It is touching to see him praise David Suchet in “Hercule Poirot” and Peter Falk in “Columbo” in detective series which saved “many gray evenings or afternoons” for him. Or assert with his eternal playfulness that “a women’s handball match, well televised, is more beautiful than any film”.

“The urgency which assail the writer has compressed the very virtuality of the story into quasi-maxims of the classical century”

In her enlightening afterword, Julia Kristeva speaks of a “meditative fugue” about “The Second Life”. “In this book, the urgency which assail the writer has compressed the very virtuality of the story into quasi-maxims of the classical century. The words, loaded with burning, invective; ideas and judgments conclude, then reverse and suddenly castigate, fierce irony or bittersweet self-deprecation, humor is never far away,” analyzes Julia Kristeva very rightly. At the time of his death, Yannick Haenel argued that Philippe Sollers was “the most unknown of famous writers”. Let’s finally read it calmly.

“The Second Life” by Philippe Sollers, ed. Gallimard, 73 pages, €13, ebook, €9.49.

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