His memoirs are filled with amusing gossip about famous literary figures, old and new
The famous writer Philip Sollers did not wait until he was eighty to write his memoirs, but wrote it immediately after seventy with the title “A True Novel.” Diary”. It is actually a novel, but it is not imaginary, but rather realistic because in it he tells the story of his life with all that it contains and what it contains. The interesting thing about it is that he talks about his encounters with the great writers of France when he was still a young crow looking for success and fame and he had not yet arrived. He was fascinated by famous poets, novelists and thinkers at the beginning of his literary career. Who among us has not been fascinated by the famous Arab and French intellectuals one day? Philip Sollers was, and still is, a “slaves of poetry,” as the Arabs say. In the sense that literature is poetry and prose that he worshiped and worshiped. However, unlike them, it was not small, but it was abundant, and even very abundant. It must be admitted that he was completely devoted to literature since he arrived in Paris at the age of twenty. He arrived in the capital from Bordeaux, the city of Montesquieu, famous for its grapes and aged wines. Fortunately for him, he came from a wealthy bourgeois industrial family. Thus, he did not need to look for a profession to earn his living or make a living. I think Philip Sollers lived the happiest life on earth. He is not one of the cursed, condemned, or tormented writers of the earth, unlike, for example, Baudelaire, Verlaine and Rimbaud. Rather, he is one of the happy writers who were born with a “golden spoon in their mouth,” as it is said in France. For this reason, he was able to devote himself entirely to literature. It is for this reason that he produced all this long and wide production of novels, writings and articles. In this respect, he resembles Jean Dormison, who was an aristocrat who lived in palaces. Both were fond of the history of French, and indeed European, and even international literatures to the fullest extent possible. Both were forgetting themselves when talking about Goethe, Chateaubriand or Tolstoy, for example. Both of them worshiped cult literature. But I don’t know why I’m talking about Philip Sollers in the third person. He’s still alive and kicking, unlike Dormison, who left this world in 2019. As for Philip Sollers, he’s only five and eight! He continues to write, publish and innovate.
In any case, his writings and memoirs are filled with very interesting gossip about famous literary figures, ancient and modern. This is what readers like so much about, including the writer of these lines. If you want to learn about the literary history of France, you should read it, and even the history of Europe. What do you think of Andre Breton, for example? Or Louis Aragon? Or Brambo? Or Benishe? Or my fat? Or François Mauriac, etc… When he came to Paris from his native city of Bordeaux, of course he wanted to meet famous people; Because he himself dreams of becoming a famous writer one day. It has become. When he first met Aragon in one of the capital’s cafes, the great poet told him this phrase: “The most important thing, my little boy, is to know whether we attract women and have mistresses. The rest is details. When Aragon said this to him, he was 61, and Philip Sollers was 21. And Aragon was a very beautiful man who admired women, as was Philippe Solers, who inevitably reached the most beautiful women of the French bourgeoisie…Therefore, there is no fear for them in this respect, nor for them to grieve, unlike some of the other great ugly writers, such as Sartre. But even Sartre had many mistresses because fame and the bright lights so attracted women. It is known that Sartre had reached a legendary amount of fame and glory that only happened to Voltaire in the eighteenth century and Victor Hugo in the nineteenth century. But Sartre did not like Solers when he received him in his Paris apartment for two hours straight. It seems that the dislike was mutual, because Sartre said at the end of the meeting, “It is better that we meet in the street by chance!” It is the Rue Saint-Germain-des-Pres and the Café Domago or Fleur, where Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir are located. And André Breton, who also received him at length in his Parisian apartment, liked him much more than Sartre. Rather, he says about him that he is the most important person he has ever met and liked to such an extent. Then Sollers talks about his readings, saying that no self-respecting intellectual in Paris in the fifties and sixties could not be interested in philosophy and philosophers such as: Leibniz, Spinoza, Husserl, and Hegel, and of course falling in love with Nietzsche, and also deepening the relationship with Heidegger… But this does not mean Forget about literature and poetry. Everything has its time. In literature, his ideal was Baudelaire and this phrase that fascinated and charmed him:
“It is my beautiful nature to enjoy hatred and hate to the fullest extent possible. In fact, I do not reach the heights of happiness and glory except through the contempt of a large number of writers, poets and young intellectuals. Moreover, my diabolical admiration for idiots makes me very happy to gossip about others.” Baudelaire’s words, espoused by Philip Sollers, are taken literally. He, too, despised many Paris writers, intellectuals, and poets who had no real talent. But they are good at building a network of public relations.
Who does Philip Sollers like? Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Voltaire among many others. He says about the latter, for example: What do I do when I wake up every morning? I start my day by reading one of Voltaire’s letters in order to die of laughter, enjoyment, and joy. Did you know that Voltaire’s Letters occupy 13 volumes of Gallimar’s famous La Pleiades? I accidentally open an ear on one of them at half past six in the morning. It is Letter No. 14703. It is addressed to the philosopher Diderot:
“my dear friend:
In spite of everything, the Enlightenment philosophy is gaining ground day by day against obscurantist fundamentalism. But it should be noted that our Jesuit enemies possess weapons that we do not possess. The past is all with them and the heritage accumulations, but the future is ours, my friend. They possess religious prestige, robes, kaftans, wealth, swords, and the common rabble who follows them like a herd. The painful thing, my dear, is that the party of the philosophers is divided and disunited, unlike the fundamentalists who oppress them and who are like a solid structure… And you are right; This is the only way to escape the treacherous stabs of fanatics.
May God prolong your life, sir. And I hope you can deal painful blows to that fundamentalist beast, whose ears I have so far only managed to bite! If you go back to Russia again, please pass my grave on your way.”
How can you help but be refreshed and rejoiced when you read a genius like Voltaire? How can you get bored of such a writer? When he says: The past is all with them, but the future is ours, you feel proud and proud, you feel a dose of hope in an age of despair and frustration. We Arab intellectuals are now living in the same situation as Voltaire when he wrote this speech exactly 250 years ago.
Here lies the distance of the historical disparity between the Arabs and the West. This does not mean that religion or religiosity will end, but rather that the Islam of enlightenment will triumph over the Islam of fanaticism and darkness. This is the battle of the hour, and indeed every hour from now until the next twenty or thirty years. This letter was written by the leader of the French Lights only two years before his death, and I do not know whether Diderot passed his grave in order to “read Al-Fatihah” on his soul or not. He certainly did because he considered him a leader of the party of the philosophers, which is waging a fierce war against the mighty party of Christian fundamentalists.