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Jean de La Ville de Mirmont, it was Houellebecq a century in advance

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It is the most modern of the old books. Du Houellebecq, a century ahead. Moreover, the author of “Food particles” was not mistaken. In 1998, in the “Inrocks”, he declared that he wished that we evoke less, about him, Ionesco or Bove, than Jean de La Ville de Mirmont. He spoke of him as of a brother, gone too soon. He recognized himself in the “almost Buddhist synthesis between romanticism and banality” that emerges from his only novel, “Les Dimanches de Jean Dézert”. It finds today a new youth thanks to the Editions Finitude, where it reappears in square format, with pretty drawings faubouriens of Christian Cailleaux (23 euros).

Bordelais exiled in Paris, Jean de La Ville was 28 years old when he published it, on his own account, in 1914, on the eve of the Great War. Sold for 4 francs, it had almost no readers. In order to explain this failure, he wrote to his father: “We launch a book the same way we launched Géraudel pastilles or Bensdorp cocoa. I lack the necessary qualities. » A few months later, sergeant at 57e line, he left for the Chemin des Dames, where he was buried on November 28, 1914, by a German shell. Barely self-published, immediately killed.

The sequel after the ad

“A free lecture on sexual hygiene”

Without his childhood friend, François Mauriac, who then became the apostle of “that eternal young man”no one would have known that he left a collection of poems, “The Chimerical Horizon”, where he dreamed of “great unfulfilled departures” to virgin islands, and a sotie, “the Sundays of Jean Dézert”, which announces not only Houellebecq, but also Perec. A resigned minister’s circlet, “dressed in colorless”, deceives his boredom and distracts his loneliness, on Sundays, by responding to advertising leaflets. He gets a massage from the blind at the Piscines d’Orient and cuts his hair for 50 centimes at the Rational Lavatory, experiments with “nutto-cream of peanuts” in an organic bistro and attends, in a pharmacy, “a free conference on sexual hygiene, complete with musical auditions”.

Only unexpected: the meeting with the daughter of an undertaker in front of the pool of sea lions, in the Jardin des Plantes. After which, he misses his suicide. It’s sad and hilarious. Absurd and realistic. Of quiet desperation. Like a laconic passage through the grand boulevards before the hell of the trenches. A small life, instruction manual, behind which looms a great death. So read “Sundays,” and pass it on. Thanks.

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