Christien Bobin, guardian of words

The Different Regions of the Sky

by Christian Bobin

Quarto Gallimard, 1,018 p., €26

Red Lily of the Valley

by Christian Bobin

Gallimard, 80 pages, €12.50

We would have liked to start this article by immediately following in the footsteps of Christian Bobin. Follow his hushed pace, let yourself be carried away by the invigorating music of his words. Going with him to observe the trees of autumn or the damp stones of Creusot, detecting the life that throbs there, spinning the thoughts that climb there… But the short biography of the writer who opens this collection of selected works obliges to start differently. And with a sigh…

This succinct text, placed on the flap of the cover, recalls the essence of Christian Bobin’s journey. He rightly mentions the importance of Very lowundoubtedly one of the most beautiful texts of the writer, but why does he add that it was “consecrated in a premonitory way to the heretical poet Francis of Assisi”. Francis of Assisi, “heretical poet” ? Even in the introductions to Christian Bobin’s books, are words today in danger of losing their meaning?? We will have understood that Francis of Assisi does not respond to the clichés that some associate, for all sorts of reasons, with Christianity, so isn’t the simplest way to tear him away from his Church? Being called a heretic will make it frequentable and interesting. And so much for the simple truth.

Fortunately, this collection by Christian Bobin shows a completely different respect for words. He is one of those who recognize their consistency, bow before their majesty, before handling them with infinite precaution. “Writing is an art as fragile as living. A mere nothing falsifies them,” he raises. And a little further: “Writing holds the heart like a glass of fine wine, delicately, from below, it spins the light there then swallows it in a few sentences. »

A pact with life

The small cabinet of curiosities that introduces this anthology, mixing photos, texts and personal objects, is suffused with this love of words. There is a printing press, a manuscript, a library photo, a letter, a wooden work table, an annotated TGV ticket… It also invites you to decipher the silent writing of the stones of the abbey of Conques or that with a beloved face…

For Bobin, literature is a pact with life. Writing is a quest and an astonishment. “What I know, I don’t write. What I don’t know, I write. » The pages that are written under this banner are cautious, weighted. “You should never write a single sentence that you can’t whisper in the ear of a dying person”, Bobin poses gravely, quoting the poet Henri Pichette. His books are a sieve of the essentials. They speak life without fearing death, welcome death without letting go of life. Which makes them anachronistic and precious in our time when death has no words.

Bobin’s writing bears the color of blood and has its vital necessity. “I have ink in my lungs, I have ink in my heart. I have ink in my blood. Without writing, I would have stopped breathing a long time ago. » This red literally floods one of his first hitherto unpublished texts, Water of mirrors, slow story of a suicide surprisingly written in a feminine way. He still throbs in the title of his new book, Red Lily of the Valley : “freshly sprouted red lily of the valley” who “preparing to set fire to the plain”, like poems when they ignite the white page. With Bobin, poetry is “absolute reality” and “gift of reading life”. This is to say why words must be pampered.

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