On March 28 and April 4 we lost Professors Antoine Raybaud and Raymond Jean, who had been members of the Foundation since its creation in 1975. We remember them with gratitude and affection.


Homage to Antoine Raybaud by Pierre Oster


May 24, 2012

First a face without shadows ; a way of being morally and physically present, and free, that is simultaneously imperious and laughing. Then the mysterious impersonality that makes us admire certain beings. A face first encountered at Les Vigneaux, in front of the home of an eminent author who had brought us together from beyond the grave. The seductive woman of Seamarks worked her enchantment on both of us. I was impressed by the visitor. Perhaps he sensed this.

Later came rare, hesitant, moving conversations. In Aix and Marseille, and in a tiny Parisian office at Le Seuil. The kinship I felt came from perceiving a grandeur that was destined to remain distant. You accompany a Prince ; you do not dream of being his equal. This man who was described to me as exuberantly eloquent was little inclined to talk about himself. One day, by chance, I understood that the distinguished scholar morphed, sometimes, into a social commentator, a frail witness to overpowering misery. He was sensitive and private, an oxymoron in action. One day, when he mentioned Rimbaud’s name with a certain fervor, I prodded him. It turned out that a major work was sleeping beneath a mountain of papers. I leapt into action. The centenary was approaching. With so much at stake, I went to work to sit this reluctant author at his desk. Finally, a manuscript arrived and was accepted by the editors. I take credit for the title, which came to me one morning, on the poet’s terrace overlooking the famous Old Port. Antoine agreed.

Years later, as we began a walk, not far from Eguilles, I stopped at a stone terrace ; there, he asked me the most indiscreet question : was I interested in these kinds of constructions which had been the pride of Provençal peasants ? I told the truth. In that moment, we bonded. An infinitely discreet person showed me his poetry. Having fought for Walls to be published, I am touched by the dedication. We became increasingly close until the moment when the fates no longer kept me in their favor. My admittedly fumbling hands no longer held the trump cards.

From the time our hero arrived in Geneva, he had a following. But I admit that I did not realize the scope of his work. From the pages of Le Besoin littéraire emerges a ferocious historian of “colonial amnesia,” an unequalled analyst of our utter blindness, even though “francophone” literature provides a perfect instrument for measuring the disaster that weighs upon our destiny. There may even be a necrosis of French memory (p. 99). Hear the noisy fracas rising from the plate tectonics of humanity, from which Glissant wished to see the emergence of the Tout-Monde…

(Edouard, in his final years, chose to befriend a fellow adventurer and encouraged him to speak.)

Translation by Carol Rigolot

Other Homages to Antoine Raybaud

Hommage à Antoine Raybaud, par Alain Paire, Poezibao, 4 avril 2012
Hommage à Antoine Raybaud, par Alain Paire, Paper Blog, 4 avril 2012
A Antoine Raybaud (1934-2012), Poésie, Belin, n° 141, textes de Pierre Oster, Jean-Claude Mathieu, Michel Deguy et Abdelwahab Meddeb

Homages to Raymond Jean

Disparition de Raymond Jean, Alain Nicolas, L’Humanité, 5 avril 2012
Décès de l’écrivain Raymond Jean, Le Figaro, 8 avril 2012
La disparition discrète de Raymond Jean, Le Journal d’un lecteur, 8 avril 2012
Raymond Jean, romancier du désir et de l’engagement, Raphaëlle Leyris, Le Monde, 10 avril 2012
Salut, Raymond Jean !, Dominique Resh, Huffington Post, 10 avril 2012
Raymond Jean, auteur de La lectrice, est mort, L’Express, 10 avril 2012
Décès de l’écrivain Raymond Jean, auteur de La Lectrice, La Croix, 10 avril 2012
Hommage de l’Institut de l’Image d’Aix-Marseille, 7 juin 2012