Robin Smyth

Interview: Michel Tournier

Michel Tournier is in the attic of his village rectory in the Chevreuse valley. The room is like a dark brown tent lit by a single half diamond of window in front of his desk. He has written all his books here. In his autobiography, The Wind Spirit, he noted: ‘Nothing is more seductive than to dream of future works as one brings a long labour painfully to a close.’ His predicament at the moment is rather less comfortable: he is starting out on a long book, a major work to set beside Friday or The Other Island, The Erl-king and Gemini, but shorter subjects keep pushing to the front of his mind. Contes and nouvelles such as those in The Midnight Love Feast, now published in an English translation by Barbara Wright, pluck at his sleeve like the children to whom this worshipper of childhood acts as baby-sitter when their parents go off for the evening to Paris. It seems that a large part of Tournier is now in league with his short stories, especially those which, although they spring from deep philosophic roots, can – he insists – be understood by very small children. He humbles his heavier works by saying of Pierrot or the Secrets of the Night, a sixteen-page fable in The Midnight Love Feast, ‘Of all my writings this is the one to which I attach the greatest importance. It is now ten years old. It has been turned into an opera, a ballet and a play. I included it in the Midnight Feast because I wanted it to be translated into many languages.’

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,