#FiveSentenceFiction: Charmed

Jean Paulhan The art of the right word, of the sentence which at once tells of an unassailable truth and how that truth fits in the world: you had this incredible gift.

Your childhood, the poignant poetry of the last decade of the dying 19th century, all the hopes that died in the tranchées, and yet, what was reborn, the talent, the unlimited thirst for renewal, then your courage in the face of evil, your gift of forgiveness, and unredeemed love: there is so much, for us, to learn from your life**, from your work.

You wrote: “Any family, any clan, any school shape those ‘words’, and those familiar phrases, loaded with meaning, which they keep secret for the stranger.”

How well you understood what laid ahead for literature: the tyranny of genres, the dominating influence of corporate interests, the deluded politics, and yet you predicted its survival, its triumph over stupidity.

As you rested, wounded, at the end of WWI, you wrote “Le guerrier appliqué” – which I chose to translate as “The thoughtful warrior”: A friend of yours much later would then describe* you as “L’écrivain appliqué” – the thoughtful writer, and in your charmed writing we find inspiration.


* Maurice Toesca: “Jean Paulhan, l’ écrivain appliqué” (Éditions Variétés, 1948)

** Frédéric Badré: “Paulhan, le juste” (Éditions Grasset, 1996)

The quote is from Jean Paulhan, “Les Fleurs de Tarbes” – “Toute famille, tout clan, toute école forme ces ‘mots’, et ces locutions familières, qu’elle charge d’un sens, secret pour l’étranger.”

Daily Prompt: Green-Eyed Monster

Tell us about the last time you were really, truly jealous of someone. Did you act on it? Did it hurt your relationship?  


I admire him, he is the father, the imperious maître, perhaps the last of the Renaissance men. And you loved him, you loved him beyond your life, and for him you wrote the story. He wrote: the most fearsome love letter a man ever received; he knew, and he wanted that letter to be known. You, pliant, at his feet, the loyal woman to your last breath, you obliged, for our pleasure. Am I jealous? How could I be: I was then that small boy, who was learning to read, who was dreaming, not big enough yet to be a soldier. Much later, it would be my turn to read the letter, and, like him, my turn to go to war. I cannot be jealous of a father, I wish only I could remember you through his eyes, for now, it is my turn to love you.

#FiveSentenceFiction: Shadows

For Dominique Aury

Permis de Conduire Through the magic of things written I am trying to find you: and you are in so many places, present, resolutely the woman you always were.

So it is, for me, that you live on, your writing a seductive light of decency and wonderful poetry, for everything I read from you is sheer delight…

And, yes, there is a bit of jealousy in this admiration, in this search through shadows, towards the man you loved and for whom you wrote the ultimate passionate letter, the one that cannot be forgotten.

You wrote of a gift never equalled since, of a sacrifice that only heroines of old were capable.

Is this madness, falling in love with someone who left this world so long ago?