Je dirai malgré tout que cette vie fut belle by Jean d'Ormesson

By Jean d'Ormesson

Pour se défendre dans un procès qu’il s’intente à lui-même, l’auteur fait défiler au galop un passé évanoui. Il va de l’âge d’or d’un classicisme qui règne sur l’Europe à l’effondrement de ce "monde d’hier" si cher à Stefan Zweig. De Colbert, Fouquet, Bossuet ou Racine à François Mitterrand, Raymond Aron, Paul Morand et Aragon. Mais les charmes d’une vie et les tourbillons de l’histoire ne suffisent pas à l’accusé : "Vous n’imaginiez tout de même pas que j’allais me contenter de vous débiter des souvenirs d’enfance et de jeunesse ? Je ne me mets pas très haut, mais je ne suis pas tombé assez bas pour vous livrer ce qu’on appelle des Mémoires." Les aventures d’un écrivain qui a aimé le bonheur et le plaisir en dépit de tant de malheurs cèdent peu à peu l. a. position à un regard plus grave sur le drame qui ne cesse jamais de se jouer entre le temps et l’éternité, et qui nous emportera.

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Immediately the impresarios and agents come forward, the worldwide rights to the show are sold, people rush off to the telephones, and in the space of an hour the fate of the show for the foreseeable future has been decided, with an instant turnover of millions. The Jews Seventy-five percent of the publishing world here is Jewish. Ninety percent of the theatre is Jewish. The ready-to-wear clothes industry, New York’s major industry, is almost exclusively Jewish. Banks, however, are completely closed to Jews, as are the universities.

But being with her is difficult for me since her extreme irritability transmits a certain uneasiness (though I’ve noticed that as you speak to her this gradually diminishes), and it is not very useful because I can’t get anything out of her either as regards publishing (her qualities are neither literary nor editorial), nor socially (being a pessimist and a misanthrope, she stays very much inside her shell). She represents the other side of America, the negative, painful one. And as such, she too will be an inevitable point of reference for me, precisely because she is the one American woman I have met so far with whom you cannot instantly establish a naturally cordial relationship.

I thought that a possible solution was to persuade him to move on to something else, to concentrate on another of the many projects he had in mind. ’ he replied, ‘Because that’s my biography, and my biography is not yet . ’ He did not finish the sentence. Was he about to say ‘is not yet finished’? Or maybe he was thinking, ‘That book is not all of my autobiography’? Years later I came across a folder entitled Autobiographical Pieces containing a series of texts with notes already written by him about their first publication.

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