Bei Gallimard, Philippe Sollers still had an office and a secretary, whose job increasingly concentrated on getting rid of inquiries from all over the world. On the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, the writer didn’t have time to write about the “Divine Comedy” he loved. But he had by no means finished writing. In 2021 one of his last works was published, a rather enraptured treatise on western civilization. For the first time in his life, an avant-garde was alien to him: the fight against the cancel culture and the triumphant moralism, not only in literature, was his penultimate. But he had long since expanded his horizons to include eternity.
Philippe Sollers was born in 1936. Gaullist Nobel laureate François Mauriac and communist Louis Aragon were enthusiastic about his debut, Une curieuse solitude (1958), the classic Bildungsroman by a precocious genius. When he joined the Tel Quel collective, he became a symbol of the French avant-garde. He shared their aesthetic leaps and ideological contortions. Sollers went from Stalinism and Marxism to Maoism and from Maoism back to his childhood Catholicism.
Vanguard of blindness
The fact that Sollers survived the political errors better than others and relatively unscathed has to do with his admirable adaptability. But also with his gift of always finding a theoretical justification. He was most convincing with the fascists Pound and Céline: he declared them to be avant-gardists of the blindness of an epoch. The avant-garde was no longer the ideological shock troop on the campaign into the bright future.
When the left came to power with Mitterrand, the promises of the revolution finally crumbled. Sollers dissolved “Tel Quel” and founded the magazine “L’Infini”. He wrote his best novel, Femmes, which also became his most spectacular bestseller. It is the ironic autobiography of a vain Parisian intellectual and the roman à clef of an epoch whose fate was “decided in bed”. The “brainwashing of the libido” has replaced the ideologies. Contemporaries from Roland Barthes to Louis Althusser appear – they are all long dead.
Private Pope Audience
Philippe Sollers, who died in Paris on Saturday, remained closer to them than to the zeitgeist of his last present. Literary scholars will first have to classify his extensive, varied and undogmatic work for posterity. But they will not justify his departure from the avant-garde with Mitterrand, but undoubtedly with the resignation of Benedict XVI. date. The German Pope had received him for a private audience. The deeply believing Catholic and writer Philippe Sollers revered the head of the Catholic Church and glorified Benedict’s resignation at the end of the Church, making his own death more bearable. Sollers castigated the church’s handling of homosexuality and its criminal negligence towards pedophilia. He described the circles that support priestly marriage as “the most reactionary of all”: “The church, like the LGTB movement, wants equal sexuality for everyone.”
Since arriving from Bulgaria, Philippe Sollers has had a relationship with his wife, the writer and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, who was recently suspected of being an agent, like Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. At the age of eighty he published his love letters to his late Belgian lover, the writer Dominique Rolin. In “Légende” (also 2021) he confessed that he had a sculpture made for his tomb entitled “The Rose of Reason for the Cross of the Present”. His very last critique of western civilization speaks of the destruction of metaphysics and the Last Judgment. She was given the title “Graal”. Philippe Sollers has been looking for him in this world for 86 years.