August 2, 2021

Yves Ravey’s one-way mirrors

Here’s something you don’t expect before asking Yves Ravey: the intensity and lack of irony with which he talks about his characters. The precision shown by the former professor of French and visual arts, from his office in Besançon (Doubs), to evoke their trajectory and what acts them can surprise, when one has frequented his novels for a long time – Adultery is the seventeenth (all were published by Minuit, except the first, The Table of the Apes, published by Gallimard in 1989). These always seem to stand on the edge of the parody of the noir novel, without falling into the pastiche. Shady narrators multiply the bad shots in often uninviting corners, between fast food restaurants, industrial areas and car parks. Their actions are described, but not their reasons. No psychology in these texts doped with behaviorism. So his manner of unfolding, with his bisontin accent, the sum of the circumstances which lead them to behave as they do is surprising. It does not, however, exhaust the charm of a work (to which the astonishing review Stripping dedicates his file – Flammarion, 176 p., € 16), of which an attempt has been made to go round in a few highlights with the writer. Even if the word “writer” seems very pompous to talk about him, who prefers to see himself as an “author” of novels and plays.

Names

The names of his characters “Condition”, for Yves Ravey, the possibility of starting a novel: “I cannot write if this point is not established in earnest. “ It is a matter of sounds as much as of imagination carried by a patronymic, from which the author feels capable of “Draw” its protagonist, “To infiltrate his skin” – first person singular narratives have its favor –, to give substance to the novel.

It has passed “Three or four months” between the moment when Yves Ravey began to think about what was to become Adultery and the one where he is ” appeared ” the name of the narrator, Jean Seghers. “I am not unaware, of course, that ‘Seghers’ is the bearer of a history, of an intellectual charge”, says the writer, for whom this name immediately refers to the publisher Pierre Seghers (1906-1987), resistance fighter, publisher of Aragon, Eluard … But if he liked the name, it was first “Because of the“ g ”, the“ h ”…”. Of a mysterious alchemy. The narrator is not the only one who must be baptized. In Adultery, there is a Walden, who signals to the writer Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), that Yves Ravey “Did not really read”, but of which “Borges speaks so well in his literature lessons…” ““ Thoreau ”, I think I could not use it for a character, but in“ Walden ” [il prononce Valden ], we can hear a kind of German connotation, it gives a foundation ”, he adds. Let us also quote Remedios, the wife of Seghers, whom Yves Ravey understood afterwards that she was a memory of A hundred years of loneliness, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Seuil, 1968). Hearing him talk about these names, the importance of their spelling and their sound, one comes to wonder if Yves Ravey would not be a pseudonym chosen for his double “v” and “y” and his euphony. “This is my birth name”, he claims with a touch of pride.

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