"French criticism is a pack of wolves" | Culture

In the peaceful and modestly tourist Arles, where Van Gogh spent his last years of life, he has been living, for some time, a Goncourt Prize that was not meant to be. Pierre Lemaitre (Paris, 1951), which was, to a large extent, responsible for the boom in not to go French that followed the fall of the Nordic, published in 2013 a novel that, against all odds, embraced the genre of adventure. It was titled See you up there (Salamandra) and also against all odds was made with the Goncourt.

Since he was 12 he read Without family, Hector Malot, and discovered that certain books can make you forget that there is a world out there, it is clear that this is the kind of literature that matters. "Today I know it was a horrible novel, full of sentimentality, but during the days when I read it, I felt that it was me who belonged to the novel, and not her to me. I was totally submerged. It was a revelation to discover the effect that a story could have on the reader. And I said to myself: 'This is what I want to do when I grow up,' "he says. He wears blue - even his shoes are a dark blue almost black - and he is comfortably and absent-mindedly seated in a green armchair. There is a copy of The colors of the ifire (Salamandra), his latest novel, the second installment of the trilogy he inaugurated See you up there, on the table, next to three empty coffee cups. "The mission of literature is not to show the world but to make it comprehensible, and is there something better to do it than an adventure novel?"

He prefers not to speak of historical events, of the backdrop of The colors of the fire, however much it has a lot to do with the stormy present - we are in the 30s, the time of the rise of Nazism in Germany, of Italian fascism, of the articles that in France were asking if the country would not need a dictator, a convulsive moment in which liberties waned-, and focus on the characters. The heroine, Madeleine Péricourt, sister of one of the protagonists of See you up there, the ill-fated Édouard Péricourt, has just inherited the fortune of his father, Marcel, and his position in the bank. It is accompanied by a varied collection of "archetypal" characters, in the words of the author, which in many cases are based on key figures of the time, such as industrialist Ernest Mercier, who tried to lead what he called the French Renaissance.

If there is a writer to whom he pays homage The colors of the fire is Alexandre Dumas. "Mine is a crusade. I propose not only to reclaim the adventure novel, but to reconcile it once and for all with criticism. Now it is very easy for the critic to say that Dumas was a great writer! But would they have dared to say it at the time? That is what I intend to do. French critics like Romanian, Czech or dead writers. I hope that, in the future, when you think about my work, it will be said that it gave legitimacy to popular literature. That the critics recognize that popular literature is good would be a way to respect the people, stop considering that they consume shit. Today everyone loves Simenon! And never won the Goncourt when in many occasions one of his novels was the best of the year! ", He insists.

And throw a dart at the writer Michel Houellebecq: "They called me an opportunist when I published See you up there coinciding with the centenary of the First World War, and is not it Houellebecq? Do not! He is called a visionary! Visionary! The French critique is a pack of wolves. The first wolf howls and the rest follow him. That is why when they ask me what I think of Houellebecq, I tell them that I will answer them when they ask him for me. "


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