“One hour of fervor” by Muriel Barbery: my daughter, this stranger

An hour of fervor

By Muriel Barbery

Actes Sud, 256 p., €20.80

In 2020, Muriel Barbery published A single rose in which a young Frenchwoman, Rose Arden, discovered Japan after the death of her father Haru Ueno, a wealthy art dealer. Without having known him, she followed the initiatory path, from Zen gardens to Buddhist temples, which he had designed for her in Kyoto at the end of which the will was revealed to her. Arising around Rose were Haru’s relatives who, each in their own way, lifted a corner of the veil on their friend and their culture. With An hour of fervorthe writer delivers the prequel without it being necessary to enjoy reading it to have read the previous one.

At the time of his death, Haru tells himself that his life has held on to three threads: art, friendship and Rose, his daughter whom he has never met. Son of a modest brewer of mountain sake, he has an exceptional talent for seeing beauty, building the reputation of others and charming everyone. Between him and Keisuke Shibata, an artist potter, grows over the decades a bond that stands the test of all the obstacles of existence.

Prohibited paternity

However, Haru does not reveal his secret to her. He had a brief affair with Maud Arden, a Frenchwoman as cold as her hair is incendiary, from whom he learned of her pregnancy once she returned to France. ” He has no doubt that the child is his and no doubt either that it will be a girl. All at once, he discovers himself as a father wishing to be one – father without a family of a foreign child – and he is overwhelmed by it at the same time as he welcomes her. In a letter, he offers Maud his support. ” A few weeks go by in the mist and, finally, Haru receives an answer: The child is yours. If you try to see me or see him, I’ll kill myself. Forgive me. »

With identical delicacy, Muriel Barbery returns to the source ofA single rose. In a Japan enamored with its traditional artistic forms, she depicts a small cosmopolitan world united by a keen sense of beauty and unwavering friendships. In its epicenter, Haru lives in absolute solitude his forbidden paternity. For lack of words, he obtains images of Rose, stolen photos of her, of her extinct mother and of her smiling grandmother with whom they are settling in Touraine. Over the years, the little girl grows up and Haru’s feelings change, between frustration and fullness, joy and melancholy. In this slow story interspersed with old tales and haikus, Muriel Barbery immerses her readers in a certain Japan, powerful reflections on life and on the meaning that fatherhood can give to existence, even more fantasized than lived.

Source : BBN NEWS

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