Matzneff: behind the mask of confession, the raw truth of literature

A bad rumor is currently running in literary circles: the novel is no longer sold, place for documents. It’s with a document, the consent, that Grasset editions open this winter comeback with a fanfare. But it’s with a novel by Yann Moix, Orleans, that the house caused a scandal during the previous school year, in September. In both cases, contact with reality created an unexpected conflagration.

Vanessa Springora’s story is more than a document or a simple testimony: in addition to describing the grip of a predator, it highlights a creative mechanism, the laboratory of Gabriel Matzneff. Idyllic love affairs with very young girls, such as he celebrates them in novels in volumes of diary – the most recent, the Lover of the Arsenal. Newspaper 2016-2018, appeared in November at Gallimard – part of a desire for hedonism. Eat, drink, lose weight, enjoy, write, and bring this program to perfection: this ideal is a style. The writer is now 83 years old, the litany of his meals has taken precedence over that of his sexual prowess, the aesthetic research remains. Boredom awaits reading, while other newspapers (those of Henri-Pierre Roché or of the filmmaker Ozu, for example) are repetitive while remaining fascinating. But it depends on the reader. “So last Sunday, June 6, I enjoyed twice: in Géraldine’s mouth at 1 pm and in Anastasia’s mouth at 8 pm.” (But the music suddenly fell silent. Newspaper 2009-2013, Gallimard, 2015).

Read also Matzneff case: a conflict of rights


At one point in her affair with Gabriel Matzneff, Vanessa Springora discovers the way in which she became the literary equivalent of cannon fodder: “From muse, I gradually transform myself into a fictional character”, she remembers. “I now find myself hating him for locking myself in this fiction perpetually being written, book after book, and through which he will always give himself the beautiful role; a fantasy entirely locked by his ego, and which will soon be carried to the public square. I can no longer bear that he made hiding and lying a religion, his work as a writer an alibi by which to justify his addiction. “

The teenager, who realizes that she is only one conquest among others, but who has not yet grasped that the writers “Are vampires”, goes to Emil Cioran, author adulated in the 80s. The reception is little done to comfort her. Basically, he tells her that she should behave like an artist’s wife: “It is an immense honor that he has done you by choosing you.” She cries, protests: “But Emil, he constantly lies to me.

– The lie East literature, dear friend! You did not know it ?”

In the case of Yann Moix, a victim also spoke: his brother – not in a book, but in the press. WhileOrleans describes the desperation of a battered child, the writer’s brother claims that he was the one who was abused by the same man who complained. But we can see from a sentence that the writer did indeed receive the beatings he describes, administered in retaliation by the parents for torturing his brother.

Document or fiction, the reader needs to believe. He must have confidence. Some authors, like Yann Moix, present their novels as texts where what they say is reality. But as soon as the entourage shows up to say that reality has been made up, disguised, the novelist takes refuge behind the necessities of literature. It is that truth and reality do not merge. The first, in the literature, is reached through a form.


Gabriel Matzneff knows his job. He writes in But the music suddenly fell silent : “Direct experience. I don’t write anything that I haven’t experienced, observed. “ A note from 2002, repeated in the same Newspaper, corrects: “If I have often had mistresses, it may be that the writer and the actress have a bit of the same job: their art, to one and to the other, is the art of mask and unveiling, disguising and baring. “

The very serious Dictionary of autobiography (Honoré Champion, 2017) grants him a long notice, which begins as follows: “Dandy curses – or posing as such – Gabriel Matzneff writes for posterity and it is perhaps through her that he will gain glory.” In the meantime, we no longer read it. Forty books, not enough copyright to make a living from it, and he’s not hiding it. He knows he is infrequent. He has not been invited anywhere except for a long time, except on television.

Read alsoGabriel Matzneff: out-of-age impunity

Claire Devarrieux


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.