Frédéric Beigbeder in Lviv: The war is not so far away from us

Author : Iryna Slavinska

Source : 112 Ukraine

Our situation today is very reminiscent of what happened during the years 1939-1940 – French writer
19:15, 27 September 2016

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Frédéric Beigbeder is a famous French writer, literary critic and a TV presenter. French writer arrived in Lviv and Kyiv to meet with readers and present his new Ukrainian translations.

The night before the presentation of the new translation was a party at one of Lviv's clubs. But in the morning, Frédéric looked fresh, joked a lot and kept ironic tone. During a meeting with journalists, he spoke English and French.


I am very happy to be in the city of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who wrote his "Venus in Furs" here. It is not an accident that the day before, the dj-sets played track "Venus in Furs" of Velvet Underground.

And then I jumped into the audience and I were on hands.


I have just arrived to Lviv, and it is too early to say whether I would write something about Lviv. But I really like the paving, Opera, these old buildings, it reminds me a bit of the old Austro-Hungary. Obviously, this is an old European city.

Related: Ukrainian writer Yuriy Andrukhovich was awarded the Goethe Medal

Yesterday I was at a party on the roof, in Paris there are few such places. And now I will ask friends in Paris to simulate Lviv. I heard that Lviv is called "Little Paris," but I would say that Paris is a big Lviv.


It is difficult to talk about the city more because I really travel frequently (thanks to my books), but I do not stay anywhere for a long time. It is difficult to deeply assess it, but some things I just can feel at once; for example, being in Shanghai is much more fun than being in Moscow.

For example, I never liked London. Perhaps the British are big snobs; they are so big snobs that voted for Brexit. But I feel very well in Spain, especially in Barcelona and Saint Sebastian. I love Berlin, some cities of Italy. 20 years ago, New York was better, and now it has become a tourist town. Although Brooklyn is still very nice.

All already feel that I speak as a tourist guide. I can advise to go to Budapest, there is a good restaurant, but I forgot what it is called.



It is hard to explain what I do, because I did not really understand what it is doing. I cannot analyze my own work: it is like asking a goose to analyze its liver for foie gras.

I began to write when I was 7 and never stopped. But never knew where it was taken. I write all the time. Sometimes I need a long time to be alone to write a great text. I am writing all the time: in the bedroom, car, train, airplane, nightclub.

Related: Ukrainian script writer receives Cannes Film Festival award

Writing is a disease. We must combine words together to describe how we feel and what is happening around. Everyone should feel for writers. Never forget that the writers need help and kisses, they need comfort.


I do not think I a DJ. I am just a writer who likes to share his musical taste. I play every three months, and I write every day. I think that being a DJ is more generously and positively than write about books.

In general, I like parties. I am a shy person, so I am using the parties to go out. Usually it takes me a long time, it is difficult to dare, and after a little gulp, it becomes easier.

I also like fatigue after parties, when the distance between the brain and what I write is decreasing. When I am tired and exhausted, I am less afraid to write.


Literature and films are very different; it is hard to say whether I like a book "Love lives three years" more than the film. It resembles me my Ukrainian translations, they are just another language version of me.

Among these works, book and film, there is a fifteen years distance, so I have changed the subject. I tried to translate into a different language, using a different vocabulary. An opportunity to translate my words into images excites and is exciting.


I am a little uncomfortable when speaking English. I am a writer French. But it is important that all of us are Europeans.

This remark had added a pinch of something political to my speech.


I began to explore Jerome Salinger when he was still alive. My unsuccessful journey to him I describe at the beginning of the novel "Oona and Salinger." For example, Salinger would never come in this room as I am now, I mean with cameras, microphones, and reporters. Perhaps he attracts me exactly because he is my opposite.


Exploring his biography, I discovered the story of his impossible love unhappy with Oona O'Neill. Oona’s life is also a beautiful story, beginning with the 1940s and continuing until her death. Their connection allowed to create a book that combines love and war, and is not autobiographical.

This novel is not quite artistic. It is written on the edge of the fictional and real, more of the real.

Five years I have been working on a novel. In the process, I became friends with the family of Charlie Chaplin, and it is very flattering. This book really affected my personal life.


Working on the novel "Oona and Salinger," I studied World War II. Sadly, I found that this war is not so far away from us. I think our situation today is very reminiscent of what happened during the years 1939-1940. Perhaps the war has not gone through.

Once I wrote a book "Windows of the World," there are people who sit quietly and suddenly face with evil, which suddenly appears in their lives. Similarly, young people in the United States suddenly faced with the war that divided them.

Of course, I think that talking about what is here, in Ukraine, has a special significance. Life in Paris is full of sudden violence.

Related: Ukrainian writer won the prestigious Polish award Angelus

Oona and Salinger thought they were protected. The war came suddenly. This can happen to each of us.


Each writer has his own weaknesses, things that help to overcome the fear of writing. Personally, I often work at night, and during my working, I need wine or beer. I do not recommend taking strong alcohol because it can prevent from writing – you might immediately want to go to a party.

I also tried almost all drugs, but they were not very helpful in writing – except, perhaps, ecstasy.

My worst writer’s habit is solitude. I turn off the phone, the TV, I need silence and solitude, just to look at the sky. This is a cheesy habit, especially for those who love.


I am very romantic person. I live to fall in love. This is the only interesting thing that was happening to me.

My books are very pessimistic and cynical, but this is due to the fact that they are written by a romantic dude that is disappointed. But he is disappointed in himself, not in the women.

Out of decadence, I feel hope for true love for life.

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