Sometimes the writer simply wants to « write » ; and sometimes, too, he just wants to communicate something : a remark, a sensation, an experience to which he would like to adapt words, because a writer’s ambiguous, alternating relationships with language are a bit like those one might have with a maidservant-mistress, and no less hypocritically exploitative from start to finish.
Why refuse to admit that writing is rarely attached to a fully autonomous impulse ? You write first because others before you wrote, then, because you have already started writing : the question should really be asked of the first person to dare begin such a practice : which basically amounts to saying that is has no meaning.
Julien Gracq, Reading Writing (En lisant en écrivant), translated by Jeanine Herman. New York : Turtle Point Press, 1980 (copyright Librairie José Corti).
Louis Poirier was born on 27th July 1910 in Saint-Florent-le-Vieil on the banks of the Loire river, between Nantes and Angers. He chose Julien Gracq as a pen name for his life as a writer, when he published his first novel (Au château d’Argol - The Castle of Argol, 1938). He went back to his family house when he retired and stayed there until his death – 22nd December 2007. His whole oeuvre is published by Éditions José Corti and by Éditions de la Pléiade.
He published a few novels, a play and several essays. Some of his books are listed below :
Au château d’Argol (The Castle of Argol), 1938
Un beau ténébreux (A Dark Stranger), 1945
La Littérature à l’estomac, 1949
Le Rivage des Syrtes (The Opposing Shore), 1951
Un balcon en forêt (A Balcony in the Forest), 1958
La Presqu’île (3 short stories, amongst them King Cophetua), 1970
Les eaux étroites (The Narrow Waters), 1976
En lisant en écrivant (Reading Writing), 1980
La Forme d’une ville (The Shape of a City), 1985
Les Carnets du grand chemin, 1992
Manuscrits de guerre, 2011.
The house where Julien Gracq spent his childhood and his old age is now a place for writers, artists and researchers in residence, according to his will. His legacy includes two buildings – the house, the old salt storehouse – and gardens.
Three independent lofts have been built in the house. Each of them includes an office with a view on the Loire river. The main kitchen is shared by residents. The living room where Julien Gracq used to receive his many visitors is still used with its reception and conversation purposes.
The town of Saint-Florent-le-Vieil, legatee, called on the Région Pays de la Loire in 2009 to think and finance together the project and the building work. On 12th July 2012, the Maison Julien Gracq association was jointly created by the two local and regional authorities. This association drives and manages the project and the property bequeathed by Julien Gracq.
The Maison Julien Gracq is part of the Lettres sur Loire et d’Ailleurs network, which aims at welcoming foreign writers for a tour in Pays de la Loire.