Souviens-toi de Palmyre
Born in Syria where she still lives, Myriam Antaki has been bilingual
since her childhood. She writes in French. She has written three
novels: La Bien-aimée (Orban, 1985, Prix de l’Amitié Franco-Arabe) ;
Les Caravanes du soleil (Gallimard, 1991) ; Les
Versets du pardon, dedicated to Palestine, published in the
United States where it received the Hemingway Reward.
In the year 267 A.D., Odenath, King of Palmyra, died. His wife,
the young Zenobia, became regent in the name of her son Wahballat
of a land that was an opulent oasis in the Syrian desert, a city
of culture and commerce whose rich caravans prospered from India
to the Mediterranean. Taking advantage of the Rome’s discomposure
after the conquest of Shapuhr, Zenobia refused to be ruled by
Rome. With ambition to match the greatest conquerors and the intelligence
of the finest military strategists, she lead armies and allies,
soon overcame the resistance of Egypt and Asia Minor, creating
an empire that spread her domination all over the Orient. She
was only twenty-seven.
Yet at the height of her glory, the queen was secretly longing
for Zabbaï, whose image haunted her still. He was indeed a faithful
general, but a disappointing lover. Zenobia’s victories were countless,
she tried in vain to extinguish the flames of one fire by lighting
others. “An invisible veil floated around me, the memory of a
caress, it breathed life into me and exhausted me. I replaced
that absence by a mad desire to please and to astonish. Rome would
lose the Orient where she gathered her food, her golden fabrics,
and the dreams of her Gods.”
When the new Emperor Aurelian, worried by this powerful rival,
besieged Palmyra and destroyed it, Zenobia, now a dethroned queen
and a humiliated captive, still young yet on the brink of death,
Myriam Antaki brings to life this astonishing character, unaccountably
little known. An epic told in poetic tones, of lands where the
golden light falling on sandy landscapes challenges the beauty
of oriental costumes; where the great rivers, the Nile and the
Euphrates, echo to the thunder of war. The author’s intimate knowledge
of the land and her subject make this a captivating restoration
of the Ancient Orient.
Jean-François Bizot was born in 1944. It was in May 1970 that
he launched the magazine Actuel. He has made a film, La
Route (1973); written an essay, Au parti des socialistes
(1975). Les déclassés is his first novel, published
by Sagittaire in September 1976, here re-edited and presented
in a new version. Today, Jean-François Bizot directs Radio
Hugh is agonizing between the declining grand bourgeoisie and
the rising petite. Only sixteen years old, he’s completely
confused. “Which do you prefer,” his friends ask. “Aqua Velva
or Old Spice? Brittany farmhouse style or modern design?
Marketing or advertising? A pig-face on a superb chassis or a
top model’s face on a runt?” Fortunately, Karl Marx steps in with
his big red Batman cape. Hugh at last finds some meaning in the
world, a direction for his rebellion. He becomes a militant, sticks
up posters, falls in love with Maria, discusses the reconstruction
of the party. Then he gets fed up with sectarianism. Hugh is becoming
more and more of a misfit.
After May 68, he goes to America to discover the underground and
its electronic mutants: he gets into rock, freaks, acid trips.
How provincial France looks from there! And how dull. He comes
back to Paris when things are beginning to move. With ten other
misfits - proletarians, hooligans, petit-bourgeois with eclectic
tastes - he launches what must be the last assault on the old
world, already shaking on its foundations. Utopia, musik, love-ins…
he does the grand tour.
A picaresque chronicle of the sixties and the seventies, a political
and sentimental education, this is the novel of France’s
militant years brought to us by a legendary figure of the press.
Un moment de faiblesse
Novel, 300 pages
Jean-François Bizot was born in 1944. It was in May 1970 that
he launched the magazine Actuel. He has made a film, La
Route (1973); written an essay, Au parti des socialistes
(1975) ; and a novel, Les declassés (Sagittaire,
1976). Today, Jean-François Bizot directs Radio Nova.
This is the chronicle of the fight between a man, Jean-François
Bizot, and the cancer inside him that must be defeated. The story
of how the monster attacked him in India, his frantic return home,
hospitalization. The brutal verdict: cancer of the bladder.
Then began a never-ending combat fought by a man who was determined
to win, using all the resources of science – including the most
modern – even experimental.
In brief chapters that alternate humour and clinical accounts,
cynicism and compassion, surgical precision and lyrical enthusiasm,
the author recounts the year when his life was crossed by cancer.
He tells of the indescribable pain that made him howl till dawn,
the remissions, the relapses, the constant war against a squatter
in his own body, the rapports with the nursing staff, the ironic
jubilation of the former addict who was now being given the drugs
that used to be forbidden…
He tells us about friends who lost hope, others who didn’t, business
that had to go on as usual, the procession of the ’68 generation,
whose lives had reached a turning point just as his life had been
assailed by the illness.
Bizot is not just anybody, he’s the founder of Actuel,
director of Radio Nova, a living legend for a whole generation
of journalists, artists, creators and connoisseurs of fringe culture
to whom he is the polar star and a tireless forager.
With the sham detachment of a true pretender, with grating snickers
of hope where we might expect polite despair, with the incredible
courage of a fighter who - little by little - yells the beast
out of his body. Bizot has written a magnificent book which will
certainly become a myth of its genre.
Born in 1941 in Algeria, Rachid Boudjedra’s works include Le
Démantèlement (1982); Le Désordre des choses (1991);
Fils de la haine (1992); Timimoun (1994) and, published
by Grasset, Lettres Algériennes (1995) and Vie à l’endroit
1995: Sarah has just joined the anti-terrorist brigade in Algeria,
where she meets Salim, member of the scientific division. They
fall in love while fighting a daily battle against the barbarian
violence that is the mark of all terrorists.
In front of the mortuary lies a twisted body, a bloody mass of
flesh and bone aching to go on living. Ali has just survived a
bloodbath. He had a ‘miracle’ escape.
An eleven year-old girl, fatherless, highly intelligent, continues
to attend college in spite of threats to her life. She is snatched
from her desk in the classroom, by the same group. Beaten, raped,
an eye gouged out and her throat cut in broad daylight, she cannot
be buried. Nobody is authorized to wash her body, sew up the gash
in her neck, find her eye and attend a funeral. If they were to
do so, they would risk ‘Fliqua’s death’. The butchers have
decided that anyone whose acts defy their horrific plans will
Then there’s a little boy killed in the school yard while he was
washing the blackboard sponge. Fliqua attends the funeral with
his henchmen. He even walks forward to kiss the feet of the little
boy - now purified by death – who will sit at Mohammed’s right
hand that night.
Sarah makes posters of the victims, hangs them on the wall of
her office, keeps the little boy’s schoolbag and the little girl’s
eye that was found hanging around Fliqua’s neck when he was killed,
he and his men, by the anti-terrorist police.
Sarah also keeps a little blue sachet. In it, some particles of
a brain. It belonged to a judge for juveniles. It was the judge’s
wife who gave it to her. In exchange, Sarah gave her an arm and
the permit to use it, so sure is she that if she keeps the woman
alive and puts someone on her trail, she’ll lead them to the killers.
When they arrest Saïd-Foetus, he cries out in protest because
they dared to wake his two babies, the twins…
This is a novel about religious fanaticism and the struggle against
terrorism, experienced by a woman. A scrutiny of the killers and
the madness that drives them to commit their horrendous crimes.
La musique des morts
Arnaud Delalande, aged thirty, is a scriptwriter and a writer.
His first novel, Notre Dame sous la terre, sold almost
10,000 copies and was translated into several languages. His second
novel, L’église de Satan, was published by Grasset in May
Created at the beginning of the 18th century by an
unknown Russian violin maker called Svetlan Borg, the Cygne is
a prodigious instrument, on a par with the finest Stradivarius.
A brilliant violinist and musical virtuoso, Niccolo Paganini,
nicknamed “The Devil”, is believed to have taken it with him to
Today, in Paris, this instrument has become an obsession to Igor
Vissevitch, a famous composer whose health is now failing. His
son Frédéric grew up in his father’s shadow, though he never
possessed his talent. In love with the young Celia, a singer who
is to sing in the maestro’s ultimate chef d’oeuvre, Frédéric goes
to Prague in search of the Cygne.
There he meets a rabbi, Elie Bogdanowicz, master of the Old-New
Synagogue and a renowned violin maker. He gives Frédéric the body
of the instrument and tells him all about its legendary genealogy.
Next Frédéric takes a plane for Venice, to acquire the lost bow
that belonged to the Cygne, so as to reunite the two pieces torn
asunder by History, and bring them back to his father…
But Elie is murdered, and Igor Vissevitch, whose behaviour changed
strangely since acquiring the violin, is killed in curious circumstances.
Faced with the brutality and the mystery of these murders, Frédéric
investigates. He discovers a partition hidden in the violin case:
the Perpetual Movement, one of Paganini’s chef d’oeuvres
still considered, with his Caprices, to be unsurpassable.
Since the partition is his only clue, Frédéric plunges into the
music, even studying the way his father used to play it. He begins
an investigation whose key word is music… What secret is hidden
in the Perpetual Movement, a flowing cascade of notes and
harmonics? What is the relation between the Cygne and the tortures
practiced in the ghetto of Terezin, where one dreadful night in
1944, Elie Bogdanowicz’s father stood up to a Nazi officer?
Arnaud Delalande brings us an ambitious blend of music and murder
for his third novel.
Noces de nuit
A writer-reporter, Jean Ferniot is also a prolific novelist, essayist
and writer of short-stories. We particularly remember Je recommencerais
bien, his autobiography. He received the Prix Interallié.
Noces de Nuit tells the story of an ordinary man whose
ordinary suffering drives him to an extraordinary psychosis: he
falls madly in love with the ghost of a woman who died before
he was born. Guy Larcher, an intellectual, a loser, who is secretary
to a member of the Academy, Armand Dégremont, has lived with Florence
for about ten years. Each day his jealousy increases – jealousy
without any erotic motive (“if she came from time to time in his
arms, it was with other men that she achieved spiritual orgasm”).
When she is expecting her mediocre lover’s baby, he turns out
to be incapable of assuming the prospect of paternal responsibilities
and persuades Florence to have an abortion. She leaves him and
he flees to his old manor in Brittany, “Brittany bigoudène,
with high, starched lace caps placed on top of wrinkled faces,
with crucifixions of granite that only ever partially baptised
the pagan beliefs, with silent vestiges of dead civilisations.”
Rummaging through an old trunk the attic, Guy finds the diary
of a certain Louise Vallet, born in 1912, whose portrait affects
Like a voyeur, he enters this woman’s secrets. She confesses her
complete devotion to Antoine, a married man who has taught her
the pleasure of making love. Guy starts to organize his life around
the dead woman: day-time appointments to read the diary, nocturnal
meetings with Louise’s ghost, who leaves a trail of captivating
perfume, like irises…
When the real world breaks into Guy’s refuge, the only option
open to him is to flee again… in search of the absolute.
A magnificent love story.
Culs de singe à vendre
Abel Grand was born in 1930 in Mantes. A classical musician, he
has been writing for many years: short stories, poems, travelogues.
Culs de singe à vendre is his first novel.
Mantes, May 30, 1944. Florent, a young architect traumatised by
the loss of his family in the ally’s bombing, attaches little
importance to his own life or that of others.
To join his godfather, an influential business man in Saigon,
he sails around Africa, stops off at Calcutta in the company of
an Englishwoman he met on the boat. Olivia was born in India.
He meets some missionaries in Thailand and sails down the Mekong
on an actors’ junk.
Olivia is in love with him, and goes to meet him in Cochinchine.
They live together through the bloody putsch of March 9, 1945,
when the Japanese, the ‘monkey’s asses’ became masters of all
Indochina right in the middle of the war in the Pacific.
The temptation to flee to Laos, incarceration in Japanese jails:
Florent’s poetic transposition blunts the edge of historical facts
that would otherwise be unbearable.
In spite of Olivia’s attempt to save him, Florent cannot escape
A first novel that has poetry, control and suspense, recounts
a little-known episode of the war in the Pacific.
Roger Hanin is an actor and a novelist. Grasset published his
Le Voyage d’Arsène, Les gants blancs d’Alexandre, l’Hôtel de
la veille lune, Dentelles. He has also written a personal
narrative devoted to François Mitterrand, Lettre à un ami mystérieux
Who is he really, this strange ‘Gustav’? At first encounter, he’s
a man who answers questions that haven’t yet been asked. A man
from elsewhere, yet who behaves like a close relative, whose wisdom
may be revealed in the voices of others, and even by a dog. In
other words, this ‘Gustav’ is a sort of long-awaited Messiah.
A stranger who opens a heart full of love, who may disappear just
as suddenly as he arrived… This brief portrait suffices to tell
us how the hero is fashioned to accommodate the author’s fantasies,
his taste for the absurd, for nonsense, for the fable…
The story? After receiving a wire announcing his arrival, a man
and his thirteen-year old son drive to Le Havre in a Bentley to
meet Uncle Gustav. There the young boy, Pablito, falls in love
with a prostitute called Laëtitia. His father tries to buy her
from her pimp, to no avail. Then Laëtitia falls in love with
a certain Madame Livingstone who was travelling with… Uncle Gustav.
A bit contrived? No, the storyline matters much less than the
digressions that accompany its telling. Roger Hanin reveals his
vision of the world on each page, a fraternal, desperate, and
decidedly poetic one. You can hold out against this universe,
if you wish; but you can also let yourself sink into it, and just
enjoy the fantasy and a good read.
In the same vein as Le Voyage d’Arsène or Les gants
blancs d’Alexandre, but this is much more droll, more grave,
more frenetic. Readers of Boris Vian and Alfred Jarry will be
familiar with the genre.
Henry de Monfreid
La poursuite du Kaipan
Collection ‘Lectures et Aventures’
La Poursuite du ‘Kaipan’ is another Croisière du hachich.
We are in 1923, and Monfreid buys a large quantity of ‘charras’
in Bombay. The trade of hashish is forbidden but in India, it’s
called ‘charras’ and buying and selling is legal.
Monfreid obtains the necessary authorisations from local officials.
He deals with a man he met beforehand in Aden, but the man turns
out to be a rogue and makes off with 6000 kilos of charras on
a stolen steamship, the ‘Kaipan’. The chase begins and after a
host of adventures, Monfreid finds his stolen cargo in the Seychelles…
Collection ‘Lectures et Aventures’
Prefaced by Joseph Kessel
Born in Nice in 1928, Louis Nucera began working at the age of
fifteen in one of the town’s banks before going on to journalism.
Among his friends figured Picasso, Brassens, Cioran, Boudard,
Monfreid. In 1964, he came up to Paris and took the post of director
of public relations with Philips. In 1973, he became literary
director with Editions Lattès. Le chemin de la lanterne earned
him the Prix Interallié in 1981 and his oeuvre was rewarded with
the Grand Prix de literature de l’Académie française in 1993.
Almost all his books were published by Grasset.
For many years, L’obstiné, originally published by Julliard,
has been out of print.
“This book is a cry of faith. Faith in life, even though it is
condemned from the first instant. Faith in man, in spite of all
his abjection, madness, stupidity and crimes. Faith in the act
of writing: in spite of everything, in the face of everything.
What flows and strikes and flourishes in this book, is passion
and not just pretend passion; authentic, organic kindness; rebellions
that seemed to be worn out by time are reborn with new violence;
a naivety that blossoms in spite of the story teller’s age… his
great age. Léon Acoibon is almost a hundred years old. The accumulation,
the sum of so many years of life projects its substance, its density,
its deep shadow on each line written by Acoibon. But his freshness,
his revolt, his passion set the narrative alight.
So, with the magic of words, with an astonishing mixture of exaltation
and compassion, of ingenuity and lucidity, of questions and impossible
replies, Louis Nucera – aged forty - has entered the skin of his
character so perfectly that professional readers believed that
the author too must be nearing a hundred. They could only imagine
a face full of wrinkles, creases, bumps and hollows, veined and
white-whiskered, whose unusually long life had not extinguished
its flame. They could only imagine a broken voice - grating, grumpy,
discontented, inappeasable - of a hundred-year old man to whom
the Dreyfus affair, Panama, bloody strikes and the horrors of
Biribi - the world’s great massacres - had not succeeded in teaching
‘healthy’ reason or a sense of proportion.
John T. Parker
Thriller, 240 pages
John T. Parker is the pen name of a French author published by
Ben Wayne, a likeable, clumsy sort of sheriff, is in his Northill
office (Illinois), when he learns that the serial killer Charles
Robertson has escaped from the nearby penitentiary in Sparte.
Robertson, alias “the gravedigger”, former doctor and republican
senator, killed around fifty old people. Those crimes earned him
a prison sentence hundreds of years long. Robertson’s sole obsession
is to clean America of its old people, exterminate them, and in
so doing save the pension fund system…
The FBI cowboys arrive in Northill, with their infra-red rifles,
’copters and profilers. The man hunt can begin, closely observed
by TV crews all over America.
Has Robertson made for Canada? Or has he settled in with a couple
of nice ‘young’ retired people, right in the middle of Northill?
The second guess is the right one, but even the devil himself
is never exactly what you expect. It’s the old gent’s wife who
dreams up a Machiavellian plot to put a bit of excitement, madness,
astonishment into her life, and to forget that cursed day in the
seventies – she locks up her husband and pretends to be the serial
But the FBI and Co. are on the warpath, and nothing in this world
can stop them…
A thriller that’s full of convincing portraits - from psychologists
to psychopaths, from ruthless TV hosts to corrupt politicians
– and unexpected twists and turns, seasoned with sparkling, droll
L’école de la crime
Julien Salmon was born in 1972 in Amiens. He is a police superintendent
in the north of France. L’école de la crime is his first
Paul de Dardanie is a student at the Ecole Supérieure de police,
training to become a superintendent. Since his girlfriend Sophie
disappeared, he has been suffering from certain troubles that
only Mozart’s Requiem, played night and day, can sooth. Dardanie
becomes completely confused and is incapable of maintaining any
kind of human relation that isn’t sado-masochistic. He has morbid
obsessions: the idea of committing a crime - an aesthetic masterpiece
of the genre – slowly takes hold of him.
When the time comes to choose a subject for his memoir, he considers
‘the aesthetics of crime’ and plans to establish a scale, to do
for crime what Richter did for earthquakes – only this one would
make his name famous and serve to judge the quality of a crime
according to several criteria.
Some time later, the college’s psychologist and several students
are found murdered. They discover that the killer is Daradanie.
His meeting with Madame Canchale, an old woman who’s been interned
in an asylum because she crucified an oddball, is a revelation
for Dardanie. After an epic journey that takes him to the place
where Sophie disappeared, he understands the motivations of his
A psychiatrist who has been allotted the task of studying Paul
de Dardanie’s personality gives the reader a very different version
of the affair.
A disturbing, gripping first novel.
Edith Wolf was born in 1952 in Paris. A holder of the aggregation
in French, she taught in Morocco before spending ten years in
a college in Sarcelles, France. In 1995, editions Gilwern published
her novel set in the Middle Ages La Disparition du kabbaliste,
whose main character is a Spanish Kabbalist, Abraham Aboulafia.
The narrator follows the itinerary of four boys who live in the
same suburban housing scheme, Kheir-Eddine, Lionel, Fabrice and
Honoré. Their activities, at first divergent, lead them from one
misdemeanour to the next and ultimately to a collective crime:
the rape of a local girl whose face they cover out of cowardice.
If the author has chosen for the title of her book the official
designation of their act, it is because she wanted to underline
the nature of their crime: it is one that excludes them from all
human solidarity and rejects them into the solitude of their barbarism.
Three of them become aware of this when the final revelation of
their victim’s identity obliges them to face up to what they have
done, and to what they have become.
There is no commentary to act as interface between the reader
and the characters, whose stories are told in the form of four
interior monologues. This book isn’t trying to explain, even less
to excuse. It is an attempt to think the unthinkable, to make
the reader feel violence in action, through the voices of the
One is astonished at how well Edith Wolf has managed to put herself
into the skin of the authors of a gang rape. A text of almost
unbearable violence, remarkably controlled.
Me & Bobby McGee
Laurent Chalumeau was born in Paris in 1959. He started working
with Rock & Folk in 1981. In 1983, he went to live
in the United States. In 1900, he joined Canal + and for five
years he wrote the script for the character interpreted by Antoine
de Caunes at the end of ‘Nulle part ailleurs’.
A writer of scripts and dialogues, he has also written songs (Patrick
Bruel, Fred Blondin, G Squad, Jane Fostin, Julien Clerc) and books:
Fuck (Grasset, 1991); Anne Franck 2: le retour (Grasset,
1994) and Neuilly brûle-t-il? (Grasset, 1997).
Anyone who doesn’t believe that certain songs are magic should
put this book down without opening. This book needs readers who
know how rhyme, a tune, and a certain voice can produce an epiphany
that goes well beyond the parts that compose it.
Me & Bobby McGee is a song that everyone - or almost
everyone - knows. For thirty-five years, everyone or almost everyone
has been singing it. It started out as country music from Kris
Kristoffersen, Janis Joplin made it a hymn. But Me & Bobby
McGee is a great story of free wandering, carefree youth and
passionate love. It’s a road movie that America passes
through, rather than the opposite. Like Rosebud, it’s a
tribal symbol for its generation.
Combining the skill of the exegete with stand-up comedy, this
little book lays out the two verses of the song and goes back
to Kristoffersen’s beginnings to tell a tale of America where
we see racial and generational conflict, clashes of culture and
De L’Académie Goncourt
Isabelle du Désert
Un Désir d’Orient followed by Nomade j’étais
40 page colour photo section
Edmonde Charles-Roux, president of the Académie Goncourt, writes
biographies and novels. She received the Prix Goncourt for Oublier
Palerme (Grasset, 1966). She is also the author of a narrative,
illustrated with photos, devoted to Gaston Deferre, her husband:
L’homme de Marseille (Grasset, 2001).
Until this book was published, what did anyone know about a young
woman of Russian origin who was born in 1877 and died in 1904,
who decided to break with her own world and convert to Islam?
Who chose to wear men’s clothes before becoming Mahmoud Saadi,
the rebel who fascinated Lyautey - a lover of absolute and and
a close friend of Rimbaud? For Edmonde Charles-Roux, all the ingredients
of a true novel were there. Working on unpublished archives, she
tracked down the itinerary of this exceptional and mystical heroine.
Starting out at her birthplace, she followed her trace along the
banks of Lake Leman until the moment when Isabelle decided to
assume the ‘desire for the orient’ that haunted her. There follows
a prodigious resurrection of all the Dostoyevskian figures that
peopled her youth and forged her rebellion. From the Russia of
the Tsars to Geneva and Marseilles, from the anarchist diaspora
to the literary milieu, from exile to rebellion: the epoch is
revealed in the effervescence of the Western world that was to
change the century.
Nomade j’étais covers Isabelle’s African period, until
her death at the age of twenty-seven. Many ordeals await the heroine:
the mediocrity of her beloved brother Augustin, her marriage to
the Algerian spahi Slimène Ehni, the shameful trial that decided
her expulsion from Algeria and separation from her husband. But
she returned to her chosen home and from then on, “entered into
the life of a nomad as others take the veil”. It was in Aïn Sefra,
where she was working on an article that she died one October
afternoon in 1904, drowned in the waters of a oued. Thanks to
a young Parisian lieutenant who undertook to search in the muddy
ruins - one of the admirable secondary characters who revolved
around Isabelle - her manuscripts have come down to us today.
Here, in one volume, the two books devoted to Isabelle Eberhardt.
There is also a remarkable 40-page section of colour photos selected
by the author. An exceptional book about an exceptional figure.
A mon frère qui n’est pas mort
François Léotard, born in 1942 in Cannes, was for many years a
politician. He is now Inspector General of Finance. Grasset published
his Je vous hais tous avec douceur (2000) and his first
novel, La couleur des femmes (2002).
‘In Fréjus, there was a beach that for a long time you reigned
over. In my memory, that beach of the fifties is still more or
less empty. Our skin was even more Mediterranean than the sea.
It grew tanner as the summer progressed, the sand stuck to our
hair, our sexes were salty and the girls laid out like kingdoms.”
This very private narrative is told in two voices: one is François
Léotard writing a compassionate and painful letter to his older
brother Philippe, a plunge into family memories, a Corsican mother
and a father in the service of the Republic. He speaks to him
through time, remembers teenage quarrels, burning summers, student
days, then came the actor, the sad clown, from Capitaine Fracasse
in the theatre to the public figure who grew distant, taking the
night for companion, losing himself forever in drugs and alcohol.
The other voice, that of François Léotard the writer, trying to
understand the human – all too human, being. He who liked to say
“He who strives toward his destruction is welcomed by it.” Yet
he sung and he wrote, with Ariane Mnouchkine, put on a play by
Bernard-Marie Koltés with Patrice Chéreau, and received a César
for best actor in La Balance. The man who was ‘left’ by
Nathalie Baye, the seducer who fell in love too easily became
a father himself, but continued to flirt with the means to his
This is a unique and moving book, not a biography of Philippe
Léotard, singer and actor who died on August 25, 2001. From one
voice to the next, the author guides us between the investigation
and the diary, between memory and meetings with Michel Piccoli
and Patrice Chéreau, between the portrait of a brother who refuses
to die and the self-portrait of the author, who wonders if he
succeeded in loving him.
A nostalgic book that surpasses the expected clichés opposing
the government minister and the entertainer.
Chroniques de Los Angeles
Annette Lévy-Willard is a journalist and a novelist. Writer-reporter
with the French daily Libération, she specialises in major
social events, the tendencies of our times, newly emerging groups…
She wrote Moi, Jane, cherche Tarzan (Flammarion, 1988).
This is a chronicle of Paradise that often takes on the aspect
of a Hell. The log book of an explorer in a city of angels, peopled
with demons. A megapolis where each inhabitant is anonymously
celebrating the cult of stardom, where people seek to be normal
at any cost, however abnormal. This Hell-Heaven town, we might
have guessed, is Los Angeles. It was there that Annette Lévy-Willard
took refuge a few years ago with her husband and children. She
observes, tries to understand, wants to belong to the town… then
escape. Her book is the chronicle of this oscillation between
love and hate…
From there on, the narrative reads like a series of scenes: droll,
full of life. Should one accept to pay more for a house because
Mel Gibson’s agent lives opposite? How do you tell the local rabbi
that European teenagers are sexually precocious? How do you survive,
poor in the land of the rich? Or rich in a system where the poor
are multitudinous? How do you put up with a body that’s less than
perfect, next to those silicone boys and girls? How can you be
alone in a place where solitude is a sin? How can you avoid being
alone when everything is pushing you in that direction?
Annette Lévy-Willard saw all that Los Angeles had to offer: the
gays, the Hispanics, the Chinese, the patriots, the snobs, the
exiles, the idle rich. Her book tells the daily life of these
modern contingents. Paradise, or Hell on earth?
La Forêt des illusions
Les Romantiques à Fontainebleau
Jean Borie was born in 1935. As he amusingly puts it, he had “the
opportunity to emigrate to the United States, cross the River
Beauce several times and take refuge in Switzerland”. Grasset
published the following books: Huysmans, le diable, le célibataire
et Dieu (1987); Frédéric et les amis des hommes, présentation
de l’éducation sentimentale (1990) ; Archéologie de
la modernité (1999) ; and Un ésprit si craintif (2001).
In the 19th century, writers discovered Fontainbleau:
Alfred de Musset, Georges Sand, Michelet, les Goncourt, Flaubert,
and many others made trips to the forest which gradually became
a real literary object, one of the very symbols of Romanticism.
Fusion with idealised nature, reverie, melancholy, the taste for
solitude: Fontainebleau was more than just a forest of that name.
Jean Borie has given us in this essay an authentic history of
romanticism: romanticism and its sweeping force, romanticism and
its contradictions. Fontainebleau was also a facile device and
its limits soon became self-evident. A cursory evasion that was
only a substitute for real travel, a minor landscape lacking in
the sublime, a place of vulgar escapades and no less vulgar treachery,
like that of Frédéric Moreau, the hero of L’Education sentimentale,
fleeing the 1948 Revolution in the company of a woman of the streets.
Flaubert, having observed the hypocrisy of Bohemian evasions,
slammed the door on the forest of illusions in his novel. So it
was that romanticism gave way to realism.
Structured in six chapters that take us through the forest, and
through the years from 1804 to 1869, L’Esprit de la forêt begins
with one of the founders of romanticism, Etienne de Sénancour.
He was first to describe the forest in his famous novel Obermann.
We are then introduced to the extravagant Victor de Maud’huy,
a hermetic writer who hoisted the quarrymen of Fontainebleau to
the rank of heroes. We go on to see Michelet on his many journeys
that even became pilgrimages; we read Manette Salomon,
the Goncourt brothers’ novel, observing it from the ‘conquest
of landscape by painting’ viewpoint, at the very time when industrial
capitalism was undertaking the destruction of the countryside.
Flaubert, disillusioned with romanticism, closes the book – and
the literary destiny of Fontainebleau.
An original way to observe the romantic movement and the tensions
of a time that was to engender modernity. Lots of unexpected and
Le Diable au corps
Le Bal du comte d’Orgel
Les Cahiers rouges
Prefaced by Monique Nemer
On the centenary of Radiguet’s birth, we are publishing this exceptional
volume with his two novels, Le Diable au corps and Le
bal du Comte d’Orgel.
Le Diable au corps
Far from the clamour of WW1, on the banks of the Marne river,
a teenager and the very young wife of a soldier who is fighting
at the front have an impossible, scandalous and adulterous relationship.
Written when he was only eighteen, presented by Jean Cocteau,
Le Diable au corps is Raymond Radiguet’s first novel and
his masterpiece. It is also the final burst of the Romantic flame
in France. When the book was published in 1923 it met with phenomenal
success, today it is a classic of French literature.
Le Bal du Comte d’Orgel
When Raymond Radiguet died on December 12, 1923, a few months
after the launching of Le Diable au corps, Bernard Grasset
had been in possession of his second novel, Le bal du Comte
Orgel, since October. The publisher judged the text to be
sufficiently complete to make proofs the same month. But Raymond
did not begin reading and correcting immediately; he was suddenly
struck down by typhoid. In tribute to the young man, Grasset decided
to have twenty numbered copies of those uncorrected proofs printed
for the writer’s close friends, among them Joseph Kessel, who
received copy N° 1.
Yet the text that appeared in June 1924 is very different from
the original handed over to the publisher. Not only were the misprints
corrected, which was natural, as well as typesetter’s mistakes
and errors of syntax, but the whole text had been “revised”, which
goes far beyond what good proofreaders would have allowed themselves
to do. The comparison of the two texts – the proofs and the published
version – show that the equivalent of 16 pages out of 210 were
simply deleted, that 600 modifications of ‘style’ were made by
Cocteau, Kessel and Pierre de Lacretelle. As Georges Auric put
it, “With the best of intentions, a few friends undertook not
just a simple revision as required, but they changed words, altered
sentences, ended up by indulging in a real correction of the novel,
a correction against which I feel it is normal to protest.”
In reality, if the ‘corrections’ made do not change the
plot, they do alter considerably the tone of the novel, making
it an example of classicism whereas Radiguet wanted the style
to be “aristocratic, but slightly unkempt”, an emblem of
the Nouveau Monde that emerged from the 1914-18 war. Based
on the proofs Kessel received, this edition gives us the authentic
text: apart from the misprints, only the “errors of syntax and
inaccuracies” as Radiguet himself put it, reported by Auric: “I
have listened to all the chapters at length, and am convinced
that I know Le Bal as well as possible. And I also know
what the author intended, that summer of 1923: to get rid of the
errors of syntax and the improprieties that might remain.”
This year marks the centenary of Radiguet’s birth. We will see
the staging of many events associated with him and his friend
Cocteau. We can surmise that this restoration will receive all
En écoutant Cézanne, Degas, Renoir
Les Cahiers rouges
Ambroise Vollard was a famous art dealer who could see
more clearly and farther than all the others. That is why he discovered
and revealed Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso…. Self-assured,
sharing the life and work of still-unknown or ill-considered geniuses,
he knew when to keep his mouth shut and his ears open. En écoutant
Cézanne, Degas, Renoir is a major testimony in the history
of painting. A succession of sketches, memories, attitudes are
told in total freedom, casting light on the creative mechanisms
of the three artists and the atmosphere around them, the genesis
of their works and the intimacy of their studios. It’s like being
there. Vollard, was indeed there, and he shares with us this work
Un jour avec la Tour Eiffel
Collection ‘Lampe de poche’ Picture Books
17x20, 32 pages
A curator of the Louvre, Victor Simiane shares his love of Paris
Boiry (Véronique Cau) lives near Lyon. A talented illustrator,
she excels in drawing and works for many publishing houses.
For Grasset, she illustrated Les Fiancés du jardin potager ;
Croco, Crocordre et crocfouillis ; Huit farces
pour collégiens ; Le Secret de la Joconde ; Le Renard
et sa queue followed by Le Gel au nez rouge, and
La cinq fois belle.
Kazouo, a little Japanese boy on a trip to Paris, loses his
parents near the Eiffel Tower, which has more magical powers
than we think because it turns itself into a giraffe to help
him find them. No sooner said than done, then it’s time for
Kazouo to visit Paris: the Arc de Triomphe, the Tuileries, the
Louvre, Notre dame, the Centre Georges Pompidou. They even climb
up to the summit of Montmartre… The end of the trip is the beginning
of a beautiful friendship.
An original and amusing guide to Paris for the young, who’ll
love the Eiffel Tower transformed into a giraffe and the little
Geneviève Huriet / Eve Tharlet
Les trois chats de Félicie
Collection ‘Lampe de Poche’ Picture Books
17 x 20, 32 pages
Geniviève Huriet, a former librarian, lived in Africa and Japan
before settling down in Paris. She is a skilful story-teller,
whose works include L’Oiseau à lunettes et le perroquet;
Le Volcan de M. Kobayashi; Le Plongeur et la sirène,
all published by Grasset-Jeunesse.
A pupil of Claude Lapointe, Eve Tharlet is an internationally
renowned illustrator whose work is particularly appreciated
in Germany. She lives in Brittany. Her tender, warm illustrations
are perfectly suited to Geniviève Huriet’s style.
Félicie lives alone with her three lovable cats. When a friend
lends her a country home, she dreams of a peaceful holiday.
But when she decides that her three friends should manage on
their own, things get out of hand. A terrified sparrow is found
hiding behind the fridge and a slippery, smelly fish head… Félicie
doesn’t know what to do.
That’s where the Martins come in, and help her put some order
back into her existence, all will be well! The cats organise
themselves into an efficient trio, one hunter, a thief and a
seducer…thanks to them she makes new friends!
A book that’s full of emotion and events, where the relation
between human beings and animals is presented in an original
and unsentimental way.
Florence Desmazures / Serge Ceccarelli
Collection ‘Lampe de Poche’ Picture Books
17 x 20, 32 pages
Florence Desmazures lives in Paris. She has written many picture
books for Grasset-Jeunesse including Pardon, je suis un ornithorynque
tout simplement (‘Lampe de Poche’ Picture Books) and Point
d’interrogation, le hamster qui aimait les livres, which
was adapted for the “Theatre” collection in 2002, after receiving
the Prix des Bonnetiers in Troyes. She also wrote Zagal (‘Lampe
de Poche’ , 9 +) and Les Aventures de Bull Mastik (‘Lampe
de Poche’ 7+).
Serge Ceccarelli comes from Corsica but now lives in Nice. He
has illustrated books for many publishers, including Une
affaire de lunettes published by Grasset-Jeunesse in the
‘Lampe de Poche’ collection.
For the Princess Wednesday, birthdays naturally come once a
week. She has so many gifts she doesn’t know where to put them
all, but still she wants more. Her servant ends up buying her
a giant trunk to put all her toys in, but it’s so big she can’t
find her way around in it… but still she asks for more. As a
last resort, the ingenious if exhausted servant gives her an
elastic band, to help find her way around the labyrinth of her
toy chest. So she invents a new game, which keeps her busy for
a whole year. Bright, lively illustrations bring humour to a
story with a message.
Jacques Chessex / Danièle Bour
Marie et le chat sauvage
Collection ‘Lampe de Poche’ Picture Books
17 x 20, 32 pages
Jacques Chessex was born in Switzerland. Considered to be one
of the finest writers of the French language, he obtained the
Goncourt in 1973 with L’Ogre. A poet, novelist and essayist,
also writes children’s books. As well as Marie et le chat
sauvage, Grasset-Jeunesse published his Le Renard qui
disait non à la lune, and François dans la fôret.
Danièle Bour’s work is known world-wide. She has illustrated
many books for Grasset Jeunesse : Un hiver dans la vie
de gros ours, Le Renard qui disait non à la lune, Oleg,
le léopard des neiges, as well as other classic children’s
stories in the ‘Grands Lecteurs’ collection (The Fables
of La Fontaine, Les Lettres de mon moulin and Les Malheurs
Marie is naturally shy, she prefers walking in the woods to
being shut up in a classroom. One day she meets someone who
immediately becomes a friend: a big wild cat. They share their
love of freedom. But her parents don’t approve of the friendship,
Rourou the wise fox advises them to find a compromise: the cat
could perhaps try to live at the farm. But he can’t give up
his precious freedom and he goes back to the forest, while remaining
forever in Marie’s memory.
The combination of Chessex’s allegorical story and Danièle Bour’s
illustrations is a particularly happy one: children will love
the untamed cat and the little girl who has to accept his need