Death of writer and critic Patrick Kéchichian

A short eulogy to Catholicism, published in 2008 by Gallimard, will have marked a turning point in the work as in the life of Patrick Kéchichian. He testified to his conversion to Catholicism, when he was in his thirties, and this publication coincided with the end of his very long collaboration with the newspaper. The world – he will, however, continue to make occasional contributions to the evening paper, in particular for obituaries.

Born in Paris on May 2, 1951 into a family forced to leave Turkey by the consequences of the Armenian genocide, the young man had joined the evening daily in 1970 as a “floor boy” before taking up a post as a documentalist, recalls Jerome Fenoglio, Director of World, in a press release. Patrick Kéchichian had indeed interrupted his studies at the age of 17, “a little confused by the events of May 68”he explained to the weekly Life in 2010.

Kindness and immense culture

In 1985, the year of his confirmation by Bishop Lustiger, he joined the team of the world of books, where the singularity and the requirement of his pen as his profound vision of literature are quickly noticed. Having become a pillar of the literary supplement, he held the position of deputy editor-in-chief until his departure. “Patrick will have marked each person who had the chance to meet him, by his kindness, his humility and his immense culture of lovers of words and literature”continues Jérôme Fenoglio.

Already author of several books – The Uses of Eternity. Essay on Ernest Hello (1993); The Origins of Mountaineering: Spiritual Exercises (2001) ; The Midnight Needle. Mountaineer’s notebooks (2004) ; Of princes and principalities (2006)…Patrick Kéchichian signs from 2008, and until 2020, regular reviews for The cross.

nobility of criticism

He also considers the critical exercise as a literary genre in itself, with its nobility and its ethics. A connoisseur of intellectual life (far removed from the worldliness of the “middle”), endowed with an unstoppable sense of humor – another face of a certain melancholy that he defined as “The Temptation of Despair” – he paid benevolent and smiling attention to the younger generation, always concerned with transmitting his knowledge and awakening sensibilities, we remember at The cross. Likewise, he pays tireless attention to highlighting the most literary talents. Among his affections, we can remember his interest in Pierre Guyotat, Jean Starobinski, Pascal Quignard, Pierre Bergounioux, Santiago Amigorena, Mathieu Lindon, Bertrand Leclair, Peter Stamm, Robert Walser, Max Picard, Samuel Beckett, Jacques Roubaud, Léon Bloy , Charles Peguy…

Ariel Spiegler, in the urgency of the poem

“Like the grammarians of Port-Royal reflecting on the status of language, he talks about words, ‘light, juvenile, so forgetful of what they are supposed to mean’, while he admits to being ‘a broken old bather’ wrote Francine de Martinoir in The cross in 2001 about the Origins of mountaineering. Summarizing thus the fruitful and painful paradoxes of an original spirit, of a modest and sincere man.


A religious ceremony in memory of Patrick Kéchichian will be held on Friday, October 21, in the Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis church, 99 rue Saint-Antoine in Paris (4th), at 10:15 a.m., before his burial in the Bagneux cemetery. .

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