Blog litteraire Philippe besson - un certain Paul Darrigrand
Lectures,  Roman

Un certain Paul Darrigrand -Philippe Besson

Find Philippe Besson after his last novel which had moved me so much, is a real moment of reading that combines pleasure and emotions . Once again, this universal novel, by the feelings and the nostalgia to which it summons us, hits the bull’s eye!

Theme: Homosexuality, love, passion, adultery, students, illness, AIDS, hospital, rupture, Un certain Paul Darrigrand, Philippe Besson.


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Editor’s summary


“That year, I was twenty-two years old and I was going, at the same time, to meet the elusive Paul Darrigrand and flirt dangerously with death, without these two events having any relation to each other. On the one hand , fun and carefree;… the other, suffering and worry that the body rejoices and body bruised Today I wonder if, in fact, everything was not linked
After Stop with your lies , Philippe Besson continues his dialogue with the ghosts of his youth and deepens his concern to express his intimate truth. ”


Why is “Un certain Paul Darrigrand” by Philippe Besson a book to read?


Because it is a universal story , that of these first love passions, irresistible, which prevail before we confront the abysses of abandonment.

Because it is also a story of illness and the link that we can see there from a somatization of the impossible love story.


My opinion

After “Stop with your lies” which had greatly upset me, I really wanted to read something else by Philippe Besson. Nothing but the title of it gave me the impression of continuity and over the course of the novel, it was confirmed.

Philippe Besson no longer seeks to conceal his story by fictionalizing, he now uses the novel to reveal it . Most certainly “Stop with your lies” marked a decisive turning point in the author’s relationship to writing and truth.

So we find Philippe Besson, just 21, in the third cycle of law in Bordeaux where he meets Paul. A stampede, a look that lasts a second too long, the balance of one who imposes himself at the table of the collective restaurant to have lunch with him and already love arises, irrepressible. The absolute need to be together is obvious. But Paul is married and he will maintain this ambivalence of his romantic and sexual commitment throughout the relationship.

“It said that everyone has an unknown part, I used the expression. It disturbs me too, this expression: the part of the unknowable. The idea that something else remains unknown, confidential, unrevealed in the other. ”


Philippe will be the third in this love triangle, depending on the other person’s agenda and their desires, kept in the territory of lack and frustration.

“I think I would like to know if he does this often, sleeping with boys, answering the call of the possible, if I come after many others, or, if on the contrary, it is a rarity , or even an unprecedented event. The information would be helpful. I would know what I represent, I would guess what to expect. Because it is one thing to be one of the occasional lovers of a hidden homosexual, it is quite another to be without analogy. ”


If in his previous novel, Philippe Besson wrote about the thunderbolt of his meeting and the discovery of lack with Thomas Andrieu. In it, he writes about the dazzling and abandonment of Paul. This sensation which is definitely part of those who experience their first love . From the Ile de Ré out of season where love takes shape and body, to Bordeaux where they will now meet to love each other ardently in Philippe’s small studio. Desire then becomes omnipresent.

But it is also the story of adultery in which the deceived woman cannot imagine that the friend presented to her is also the one who steals her husband from her. Situation which then plunges the lover into a conflict that is impossible to resolve since he, for his part, cannot resolve to hate this friendly and warm woman who welcomes him with open arms.

Then the disease occurs . The one we detect during an ordinary health examination when we are only 22 years old and which turns out to be of surprising severity. These are the AIDS years, the years when the author himself sees some of his friends disappear. Yet he does not feel in danger. He even finds it hard to believe because he never thinks of his possible death.

Isn’t this bloody disease a somatization of his prevented love? will ask his friend Catherine intrigued that he switches so quickly from “falling in love” to “falling sick”. A self-destruction that arises precisely at the same time as the feeling of abandonment.


“Indeed, my body seemed to self-destruct at the exact moment when I had a cruel feeling of abandonment. These two events were not only juxtaposed, they were linked. ”


We cannot rule out the probable link but it is above all a question of not leaving one’s skin there. He will keep an indelible scar, both physical and emotional. Paul will still be there, despite the consummate rupture. This story will remain etched in his memory down to the last detail. Details which then become literature, just like the character of Paul Darrigrand.


Because it was necessary to write so that this story doomed in the shade, in the dark, to be hidden, was born. Not to write it was to pretend it never existed. “Writing to save something from the time when we will never be again”


Prévert: “ I paint in spite of myself, things behind things. When I paint a swimmer, I see a drowned man ”.

“I am happy to tell the truth, without make-up, without filter after all these years of romance.” P. Besson (LGL)


Balance sheet 

An inevitably moving reading with Philippe Besson who always brings us back to what makes us vibrate, to the intimate and to the bodies but also to the recall of those terrible 80s where AIDS was devastating and where being 20 years old was in itself a danger . ♥♥♥



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Philippe Besson - a certain Paul Darrigrand


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