Letters to Eugène
Hervé Guibert's incandescent correspondence with Belgian poet Eugène Savitzkaya.
In 1977, Hervé Guibert discovered the first novel written by Eugène Savitzkaya, Mentir, and sent him his La mort propagande, which had just been published. In the following years, they exchanged the books they had written, read each other, appreciated each other. They saw each other rarely, however: one lived in Liège, the other Paris.
A turning point occurred in 1982, when Hervé published "Lettre à un frère d'écriture," in which he declared to Eugène, "I love you through your writing." The tone had changed; Hervé, obsessed with his correspondent, wrote him increasingly incandescent letters. 1984 would, however, see the sudden extinguishing of that passion. A deep friendship replaced it, which found itself with new areas to explore: the adventure of publishing L'Autre Journal and at the Villa Medicis, where they were both fellows. These nearly eighty letters, exchanged between 1977 and 1987, form a correspondence that is all the more unique for being the only one whose publication was authorized by Guibert. An intersection of life and writing, self and other, reality and fiction, their release is a renewal of Guibert's oeuvre.
This passionate, reckless correspondence, lopsided yet perfect as flowers in ikebana, reels between pique and lust, idiocy and acuity, with the pyrotechnics of a Catherine wheel, wooing and wowing. Its flaming, curling beauty belies the always possible risk of someone being burned. With her tender, quicksilver translation, Christine Pichini tracks the thrill of this sweaty, writerly French Open, where silences and setbacks between players are still called love.
Bruce Hainley, author of Under the Sign of [sic]: Sturtevant's Volte-Face