Sober and elegant, he shows a splendid maturity. He is predisposed to talk in a relaxed way and looks into the eyes of his interlocutor with warmth. the french writer Jean Paul Enthoven He was born in Algeria in 1949 and was little when he moved with his parents to France. There he grew up and had a formal education in the famous Sorbonne and at the Faculty of Law in Paris. He was director of the Gasset publishing house, founder of the magazine “Le regle du jeu”, together with Bernard-Henri Lévy and published novels and essays, among which the “Loving Dictionary of Marcel Proust”, written with his son Raphaël. Both were protagonists of a well-known family scandal, when Raphaël got involved with Carla Bruni, then in a relationship with Jean Paul.
Today he has a relationship with the beautiful and refined Patricia Della Giovampaolawith whom he divides his life between Paris, Punta del Este and Buenos Aires. Long before he met her, he visited Jorge Luis Borges in his Buenos Aires department and reflected that encounter in “Saisons de papier”. Also, as if the reasons for his confessed enthusiasm for our country were not enough, he considers that, thanks to the technique imagined by Dr. René Favaloro, he recovered his good health. “I had a problem with the pipes,” he admits with a laugh when he remembers that, due to a heart attack, he had to undergo a complicated aortic replacement operation, as he recounted in his book “The Reasons of the Heart.”
In the tranquility of his splendid home in Recoleta, Enthoven spoke with NEWS about the appearance of “Blanche”, his first book translated into Spanish, published by Planeta. It is the story of a woman with many peculiarities and very suggestive erotic customs.
NEWS: The feminine universe is an important part of her work.
Jean Paul Enthoven: Exact. When I was an editor, many female writers told me about their lives. That’s where I got a lot of inspiration, because there are always a lot of stories when a woman speaks. A woman is always the beginning of a novel. It is not the same with men. The little I know about myself I learned from women. They were my best teachers of life, of wisdom and madness.
NEWS: Did the mother figure influence?
Enthoven: I have loved my mother very much, but I do not see her in the same sense as the women I write about. She was a special creature in the universe.
NEWS: She knew Proust’s work. Is that where her passion for him comes from?
Enthoven: Perhaps. A famous French writer, Romain Gary, said that “With maternal love, life makes you a promise at dawn that it can never keep.” She loved me so much that I advanced in the feminine world thinking that everyone was going to give me that quality of love. A complete illusion. I have a brother and a sister, but being the latter, I am the preferred one. Before I was born my mother had another boy with the same name and he died. The first thing I learned to read was my name written on his grave.
NEWS: What did that do to you?
Enthoven: He gave me the impression of being a replacement, but I’m not complaining because my mother loved me madly. The love of a mother is very dangerous. It can be very destructive and invasive.
NEWS: John Berger says, “I write with hope between my teeth.” Do you share that idea?
Enthoven: I think hope is the most dangerous of drugs. It can help humanity that suffers and is in a lot of pain, but it is a drug. I think it is the same in religions.
Enthoven: I belong to what Albert Camus describes as “héroïsme tragique” (tragic heroism). I advance and progress on an empty sky. It’s hard because I would like to have hope. Two religious men, a rabbi and a priest, told me that it can arise a few seconds before death.
NEWS: Don’t agree with any religion?
Enthoven: I am agnostic. Woody Allen says: “I was born into Judaism, but quickly converted to narcissism” (laughs).
NEWS: Is a writer a kind of demiurge?
Enthoven: I never imagined another life than that of a writer. It seems to me the best we can do. It is a privilege to be able to create characters, make them born, give them names, like a kind of God.
NEWS: What is it written for?
Enthoven: I love two American writers very much: Hemingway and Fitzgerald. One day the second asked the first: “Why do you write?” Hemingway replied: “To make things exist that will last much longer than a car or a dog.” We all want to exist a little longer than our lifetime.
NEWS: What other authors are your favourites?
Enthoven: number one is my friend
Marcel Proust. I also like Chekhov and Shakespeare. Of those who lived in my time, Philip Roth and my friend Milan Kundera, who is very important to me. Also the French Stendhal because he describes youth and joy. There is a terrible sentence from the Civil Code, very significant for him, which says: “Everyone sentenced to death will have their head cut off.” He maintained that a word could not be withdrawn because it lost its meaning. I want to write like this, with sentences where a word cannot be withdrawn.
NEWS: Can writing transform reality?
Enthoven: I think that the writer can change the world, although it is not my claim. I want to add a bit of intelligence and beauty. I am very modest in what I try.
NEWS: What is the role of the intellectual?
Enthoven: The intellectuals of the 20th century were very wrong. They were always accomplices of tyrants. In Germany, Martin Heidegger sympathized with the Nazi party. The Frenchman Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, who was related to Argentina because he was Victoria Ocampo’s lover, was a defender of Hitler. I believe that today Bill Gates and Elon Musk transform the world more than poets and philosophers. I don’t know if they do it in a good direction, but they have more power capacity to influence destiny.
NEWS: Is our future in those hands?
Enthoven: Women who are in Iran and cut their hair seem to me a thousand times more important than a man who writes a book or a businessman. Those who fight in the Ukraine seem much more important to me.
NEWS: Also those of the MeToo movement?
Enthoven: No, that’s something else. This movement is necessary because the order of the past cannot last, but we must be careful with excesses. The movement is too far to the left and it seems to me that it has become somewhat cartoonish, close to a confrontation. I want peace to reign between man and woman. I don’t want war but seduction, pleasure, love or friendship.
NEWS: What do you think of Marine Le Pen and her process of renewing the National Front?
Enthoven: (smiles) Not my cup of tea. I think that she is the last representative of populism in Europe and I think that if she ever had power it would be a total economic catastrophe, a setback.
NEWS: Are you on social media?
Enthoven: I have a profile on Twitter and Instagram but I never write. I am a voyeur who enjoys reading things and being informed.
NEWS: How do you feel about exposing your private life?
enthoven: It is the great drama of our time. Transparency is a curse. There is a lack of distinction between private and public. The thing that hurts me the most in the spectacle of the world is vulgarity. That is a permanent injury.
NEWS: Did you rebuild your relationship with your son?
Enthoven: Yes. Everything happens in life. You have to understand and forgive.