A meeting with the writer Catherine Robbe-Grillet

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Dhe magnolia trees are blooming and the night is mild, but Madame Robbe-Grillet is wearing gloves. Not because of the cold, but because of the principle: Madame alone determines how close the world can get to her. In addition, a cream-colored long coat, including a huge chain pendant with dozens of dainty heart-shaped diamonds – a gift from Gaddafi. When she plucks at the tip of her right glove and lets the small hand slip out of the leather cover, I think of the knife. Just a thoughtless twitch, and the blade in Madame’s hand had bored into the lover’s thigh, blood fountain, emergency room, she was careful with knives, but this one thing she kept: a souvenir, one could call it almost sentimental. There is still some blood on the blade.

Madame told us the story a few hours earlier, at martinis and finger food, I already knew her. She is almost word for word in one of her books. That’s why I made my trip. Now we are at the metro station, the evening is over and Madame takes off her glove and then it is time. I look at her questioningly, she nods, and then I bend down: my very first serious kiss on the hand. Whoever loves changes the century, writes Roger Willemsen. The same applies to everyone who meets Catherine Robbe-Grillet for a cocktail hour.

Forbidden, out of print, filmed

Catherine Robbe-Grillet is the widow of the writer and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet and is known by her pseudonyms Jeanne de Berg and Jean de Berg, respectively. It is much more famous in France and the United States than here. Her debut “L’Image”, a novel about a sadomasochistic relationship between two women and a man, became a scandal in France in 1956, was immediately banned and sold out even faster, and was later made into a film. In 1985, Robbe-Grillet’s international breakthrough, “Cérémonies de Femmes”, was published by the prestigious French literary publisher Grasset: erotic ceremonies with Robbe-Grillet as a kind of sadomasochistic high priestess, portrayed calmly and precisely.

Since then, Catherine Robbe-Grillet has continued to write and publish, and whenever possible, she comments on socio-political issues, such as the liberalization of sex work in France. I do not share every one of their views, and the Gaddafi diamond irritates me more than I admit; and yet I find something about Madame extremely attractive; something that I haven’t seen among writers in Germany yet. Madame is deliciously incorrect, and as small and fragile as she may seem, a real Libertin sits in front of me. They have become rare, even in France.



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