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Amélie Nothomb


In August 2001, Amélie Nothomb offered its tenth novel, Cosmétique of the on enemy to us believed to know it and here that with this novel diverting, surprisingly serious, it manages to still surprise us. Maintenance that it granted to us enabled us to check, if need be, its charm and its intelligence. We are pleased thus to make you share a conversation full with sincerity of humour and modesty.

Concours de Nouvelles  thème: Rupture


ous, in this novel, as in Hygiène of the assassin, on the importance of "really reading", can you insist develop what you understand by there, so that I would be sure myself to have read to you well...

- It is about a carnivorous reading, that about which speaks Prétextat in "Hygiene about the assassin". More and more of people, today, practise the reading out of diving-suit: they often are very cultivated and can speak very well about the books, but they read without that modifying their components; the book is there only to cultivate them, not to modify them. However, it is necessary to be put, I believe, completely with naked in front of the text. Fortunately, it seems to me that many of my readers really read me, the proof it is that when I sit down in the subway opposite somebody who reads one of my books, it never notices my presence. It is very good sign.

How to explain the similarity of title between Hygiene of the assassin and Cosmetic of the enemy?

- I swear you that I did not think of it everyone believes that it is a wink that I make because it is the tenth novel but at any time I did not see the relationship. If it had not been said to me, I would not have even noticed it; my blindness, my lack of clearness with respect to myself and my books is extraordinary!

Whereas what characterizes your writing, it is the control, the relentless; nothing seems writes without control...
It is also true, but the essence of all that exceeds me completely. I do my work...

- not, my childbirth - best than I can and most sincerely that I can, but it should not especially be thought that I include/understand all that I do. I know very well which feeling I want to be given, but I am far from all to include/understand; fortunately that I have readers and lectrices relevant to open the eyes.

Your last novel is definitely more serious than the precedents, although your topics of predilection there are found, that did occur?

- It is very difficult for me to know it. at the moment when I wrote it, I realized of this gravity and I was not besides always very at ease; from there with knowing if that corresponds to something in my life... I do not know, I am somebody of very little with the current on oneself. Perhaps that in ten years I will know why... I generally spend an insane time to include/understand the things.

You write, in Cosmétique of the enemy , "One believed food with a benevolent tyrant above his head, one realizes that one saw under the cut of a malevolent tyrant who is placed in his belly." However, in the metaphysics of the tubes, God it was you, child; it was omnipotence and absolute happiness; How explain this brutal loss of being able?

- I really do not explain it, but I assisted to with it; it appeared gradually. there had already been, when I was three years old, an extraordinary loss of capacity but there were well others of it thereafter, until the birth in me of what I call the interior enemy, with twelve years and half. It was not already badly liveto have lived nine years and half without interior enemy... When it appeared, I felt that it was not going to leave.

This bond between writing and culpability seems manifest in the choice to name "the interior enemy" textor Texel...

- In what relates to me, yes, it is most probably of this kind.

In Cosmétique of the enemy, as in Hygiène of the assassin, adolescence is a true calamity that does occur thus the so terrible one there?

- Me, I lived it as a fall. The state of child was a state which suited me well and then suddenly, this fall... not only one diminution of me even, but the simultaneous emergence of my interior enemy. He which was not a minute there earlier is suddenly installed as a machine to destroy me, against which it was necessary me to learn with guerroyer.A when a novel for us to tell it?
- I do not even know perhaps if I will be able..., one will see.

Textor Texel, figure of the evil and the culpability in your novel called to one moment, addressing itself to Jerome Angust: "I did not come to make me look after by you, I came to return to you sick.". doesn't this power of the evil and the culpability mean the return of the omnipotent god, a little too quickly évincé?

- It is an interpretation which appears optimistic to me. I have a design of the culpability even absurder than that which I develop in my book. In the book, although there remains a doubt, one nevertheless has the impression that the hero is guilty and besides he feels guilty, in what finally it is a book more optimistic than I thought it. In general the guilt feeling is so absurd that it is inversely proportional to the real culpability. I note it in the life of tous.les.jours: there are two kinds of people, those which have a complex of culpability and the others.



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Generally, those which have a complex of culpability did not really do anything of low register while those which would have a good reason to make feel guilty are the quiet aware it is perhaps because the guilt feeling is "permeable": one would inherit the culpability of others thus, which would explain why I feel so guilty whereas my most serious actions are not quite black but it is right an assumption that I venture.

What a tragic design !
- But it is tragic! I survive, but it is tragic.

Paradoxically, Textor as says "you require as I return to you sick." or "there is in the life of salutary misfortunes". would the culpability be also an evil necessary?
It there be now twenty year that I live with a enormous culpability and that it disappear not, but I be meanwhile become writer... this explain perhaps that.

At the end of your novel the terms appear "unconscious", "repression", "mental disorder", although in an anecdotic way; Did you have at the head at the time of the writing, a track of psychanalitic interpretation of order?

- Not, absolutely not. I do not know anything with the psychoanalysis. I well however smell that it does without, when I write, the things that I do not control and my readers prove to me unceasingly that I have very little idea of what I put in my books.

Isn't this appropriation of the book by the readers also a risk of loss of oneself?
- This fear exists, but I understood that it was not founded and that on the contrary there was much more increase than of loss it is perhaps different for other writers more lucid than me, but for me who am blind at an extreme point, it is an increase;

Thus, you are not aggravated that the unknown ones call you by your first name because they read your books?
- On the contrary! That touches me deeply. I would never have imagined that and I of it am very content. I was so much only in the life, at point which made me suffer, that now I regard this miracle as a blessing;

How to explain the reaction of Jerome Angust when it understands that the man who it nargue since hours is the assassin of his wife? one would expect that it jumps to him to the throat, gold, it continues to discourse with Li, as a civilized individual...

- It is a reaction which I include/understand. It is difficult to be put in its skin, but one can imagine extreme hatred that it R essent and who explains, precisely, this inertia. It arrived to me, fortunately not too often, to hate certain people à.fond and when I was in their presence I remained fixed. There is only in the moments of anger which I am capable of a word, for the blow, terrible, but these moments of anger are rare and short. apart from these moments hatred returns to me passivates, because it is a so destroying feeling which it even destroys me me.

You speak about it like interior enemy presently...

- I did not realize there... indeed, when I feel something of harmful towards somebody, I tend to turn over it against me that explains the violence of my angers, where all re-appears; there I will be able to kill somebody in these moments thanks to the writing, I succeeded in channeling this violence, but go account: the interior enemy was born in me when I was twelve years old and I started to write only at seventeen years; that wants to say that between the two, nevertheless four years ago and half without this discharge system and I can say to you that they were atrocious years I wanted to destroy me by all the means, the first being not to eat.

Does passion in your books lead systematically to the destruction of the liked object, why?
It is a thing which I so much saw in my life!
I did not invent anything, Wilde wrote quite front me: to kill, it is not inevitably to kill with the clean direction. There are so many manners of killing somebody!
To kill somebody with words is easy. I saw it thousand times and that arrived to me at myself. I fortunately found many techniques to be rebuilt.

Lastly, last question, this novel, Cosmetic of the enemy, seems enamelled references to the fall of Albert Camus, you had it at the head while writing?
- Not a moment I did not think of it! However, when it was said to me, I said myself: but name of a dog, obviously! I must be the most disappointing writer of the world, I spend my time not knowing and to open large stupid eyes while saying: but it is true... I am afflicted, I do not have to better offer to you.
(Ah! Amélie, so only you were more numerous to offer to us "if little"...)
Collected by Catherine Weyrich

Photos : Richard Dumas / André Nicotra

Bibliography Amélie Nothomb

nothomb_book1.jpg (6471 octets)       nothomb_book.jpg (5799 octets)        nothomb_book2.jpg (6167 octets)       nothomb_book3.jpg (3829 octets)



Amélie Nothomb    Douglas Kennedy    Eliette Abécassis    Dai Sijie    Marc Levy    Bernard Werber   Mary Higgins Clark 

Amin Maalouf  Salif Keïta  Analyze : The tale


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