Justine Lévy slipped, for her new novel, “Her son” into the head of Euphrasie Artaud, the mother of the writer Antonin Artaud.
Impossible not to be touched by this woman
Until then she wrote about herself, about her devastated loves, about her father Bernard-Henry Lévy, about her mother who died far too soon. After seven years of silence, Justine Levy tells with as much heart as intelligence the story of a son. Not hers, but that of Euphrasie Artaud, the mother of the writer Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), the poet, the tramp, whose story she gives us to read. imaginary diary.
What a great idea Justine Lévy had to slip into the head and aging body of Euphrasia Artaud. Impossible not to be touched by this woman mad with love as much as with pain who lost six of her nine children, determined to protect her most fragile and talented Nanaqui at all costs. Impossible not to identify with the anxieties, the anger and the guilt of this loving, worried, abusive, devouring mother perhaps.
A high opinion of her son
The diary begins in 1920, when Antonin Artaud left for Paris at the age of twenty-three and a half, accompanied by his father (who died in 1924) since “such a departure, such an installation, do not improvise”. For Euphasie, Antonin is still a child, given that, at twenty-three, “a little boy remains a little boy” whom she treats tenderly by Nanaqui. However, everything is going to be fine because his mother and father have instilled family and Catholic values in him.
Euphrasie has a high opinion of her son who, in her opinion, could one day equal the geniuses of French and international literature. She affirms: Later, he will be Gérard de Nerval, he will be Baudelaire, he will be Edgar Poe”.
She is always very caring with her “Nanaqui” who either rejects her or does not recognize her. Nevertheless, she brought him enough to live on, which was not the case for everyone. She was convinced that her son was too unsuited to the outside world and to a normal existence to leave the hospitals or mental asylums where he stayed.
A touching novel
He, on the other hand, spent his time sending letters, begging his friends, lying about the state of his suffering to find a way to escape the grip of the doctors. But, at the same time, he needed them for prescriptions for painkillers like laudanum.
This imaginary diary is a success that allows us to dive, albeit indirectly, into the life and work of Antonin Artaud, a great French writer of the twentieth century. We can only salute Justine Lévy for the moments of happiness that she will surely have brought to many readers by writing this admirable novel.