Saturday, March 19, 2016

B lotti dans le malheur

Je suis à Valencia dans l’hôtel où Ernest Hemingway a commencé d’écrire The Sun Also Rises, c’est écrit dans l’ascenseur. Je suis extrêmement malade depuis quelques jours, en fait, depuis début janvier. Mais il y a eu un jour (il y a quatre jours) où je me suis dit : ça y est, je m’en suis sorti. Et le lendemain l’horreur, jamais été aussi malade sauf quand  j’étais enfant. Je n’ai rien annulé, je vais aux cours dans des états « seconds » est un euphémisme. Je ne dors pas la nuit tellement j’ai la fièvre. Je ne sais pas quoi faire. Je n’ai pas voulu annuler ma venue aux Fallas de Valencia, mais j’ai paniqué la veille parce que je n’avais pas de logement et que dans mon état je ne me voyais pas passer la nuit dehors, j’ai pris une chambre chère. Je me suis fait avoir parce que le lendemain, sur le site de location, le prix avait baissé de 50%, il n’y a pas tellement de riches pendant cette fête dans  cet hôtel, en fait. La fête est fabuleuse… Marguerite Duras adorait Ernest Hemingway, je ne l’ai pas beaucoup lu encore, mais je l’ai lu dans les premiers romans de Marguerite Duras (Le Marin de Gibraltar…), les dialogues sont copiés de ceux, si réels, si déliés, des nouvelles d’Hemingway…

« “Hello, Robert,” I said. “Did you come in to cheer me up?”
“Would you like to go to South America, Jake?” he asked.
“Why not?”
“I don’t know. I never wanted to go. Too expensive. You can see all the South Americans you want in Paris anyway.”
“They’re not the real South Americans.”
“They look awfully real to me.”
I had a boat train to catch with a week’s mail stories, and only half of them written.
“Do you know any dirt?” I asked.
“None of your exalted connections getting divorces?”
“No; listen, Jake. If I handled both our expenses, would you go to South America with me?”
“Why me?”
“You can talk Spanish. And it would be more fun with two of us.”
“No,” I said, “I like this town and I go to Spain in the summertime.”
“All my life I’ve wanted to go on a trip like that,” Cohn said. He sat down. “I’ll be too old before I can ever do it.”
“Don’t be a fool,” I said. “You can go anywhere you want. You’ve got plenty of money.”
“I know. But I can’t get started.”
“Cheer up,” I said. “All countries look just like the moving pictures.”
But I felt sorry for him. He had it badly.
“I can’t stand it to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.”
“Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters.”
“I’m not interested in bull-fighters. That’s an abnormal life. I want to go back in the country in South America. We could have a great trip.”
“Did you ever think about going to British East Africa to shoot?”
“No, I wouldn’t like that.”
“I’d go there with you.”
“No; that doesn’t interest me.”
“That’s because you never read a book about it. Go on and read a book all full of love affairs with the beautiful shiny black princesses.”
“I want to go to South America.”
He had a hard, Jewish, stubborn streak.
“Come on down-stairs and have a drink.”
“Aren’t you working?”
“No,” I said. We went down the stairs to the café on the ground floor. I had discovered that was the best way to get rid of friends. Once you had a drink all you had to say was: “Well, I’ve got to get back and get off some cables,” and it was done. It is very important to discover graceful exits like that in the newspaper business, where it is such an important part of the ethics that you should never seem to be working. Anyway, we went down-stairs to the bar and had a whiskey and soda. Cohn looked at the bottles in bins around the wall. “This is a good place,” he said.
“There’s a lot of liquor,” I agreed.
“Listen, Jake,” he leaned forward on the bar. “Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”
“Yes, every once in a while.”
“Do you know that in about thirty-five years more we’ll be dead?”
“What the hell, Robert,” I said. “What the hell.”
“I’m serious.”
“It’s one thing I don’t worry about,” I said.
“You ought to.”
“I’ve had plenty to worry about one time or other. I’m through worrying.”
“Well, I want to go to South America.”
“Listen, Robert, going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.”
“But you’ve never been to South America.”
“South America hell! If you went there the way you feel now it would be exactly the same. This is a good town. Why don’t you start living your life in Paris?”
“I’m sick of Paris, and I’m sick of the Quarter.”
“Stay away from the Quarter. Cruise around by yourself and see what happens to you.”
“Nothing happens to me. I walked alone all one night and nothing happened except a bicycle cop stopped me and asked to see my papers.”
“Wasn’t the town nice at night?”
“I don’t care for Paris.”
So there you were. I was sorry for him, but it was not a thing you could do anything about, because right away you ran up against the two stubbornnesses: South America could fix it and he did not like Paris. He got the first idea out of a book, and I suppose the second came out of a book too.
“Well,” I said, “I’ve got to go up-stairs and get off some cables.”
“Do you really have to go?”
“Yes, I’ve got to get these cables off.”
“Do you mind if I come up and sit around the office?”
“No, come on up.”
He sat in the outer room and read the papers, and the Editor and Publisher and I worked hard for two hours. Then I sorted out the carbons, stamped on a by-line, put the stuff in a couple of big manila envelopes and rang for a boy to take them to the Gare St. Lazare. I went out into the other room and there was Robert Cohn asleep in the big chair. He was asleep with his head on his arms. I did not like to wake him up, but I wanted to lock the office and shove off. I put my hand on his shoulder. He shook his head. “I can’t do it,” he said, and put his head deeper into his arms. “I can’t do it. Nothing will make me do it.”
“Robert,” I said, and shook him by the shoulder. He looked up. He smiled and blinked.
“Did I talk out loud just then?”
“Something. But it wasn’t clear.”
“God, what a rotten dream!”
“Did the typewriter put you to sleep?”
“Guess so. I didn’t sleep all last night.”
“What was the matter?”
“Talking,” he said. »



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