8 September 2023

“With Kafka, heart intranquille”, by Sereine Berlottier, We, “Disparate”, 140 p., 16 €.

The title of Sereine Berlottier’s eighth book since Naked thrown into the void (Fayard, 2006) is beautifully ambivalent: because if the expression “restless heart” may refer to Franz Kafka, as the title of an essay would imply, it relates even more to the narrator, who confronts a dramatic situation with Kafka’s work as her viaticum. This is what the author recounts afterwards, with rare modesty and remarkable precision in the sentence: as she accompanied her mother at the end of her life, from hospitals to clinics, through impersonal corridors, Who “all look alike, as if they had wanted to lose us”, in anonymous rooms where the bodies disappear, the narrator will have passionately plunged into the galleries of a work so often suspended to the rhythm of sketches without exits, left floating in the void of the page. And we remember the Terrierone of Kafka’s last two texts, which left it unfinished with a comma awaiting the enemy: “but nothing had changed,”

The ambivalence of the title, therefore, turns out to be perfectly accurate, since it defines the text in its principle, twice grappling with the irreparable: in the medical rooms, where one “pull the curtains and we look at the sky, the clouds that unravel”while the voice of the mother fades away each day, of which only“a fluffy whisper, a very thin, stubborn thread, which drags behind it the dull syllables whose intention must be secretly reconstructed within oneself” ; but also in the legend of Kafka, of which it is the very material, when it is so difficult not to feel guilty throughout this chronicle of an expected death − guilty, for example, of finding only an expression agreed in the face of the greatest dismay, in an ambulance.

An inner struggle with death

On the last pages, to a poignant fragment recounting that ” from this half-open eye, which hadn’t blinked for hours, I thought I saw a very fine arrow, barely a thread of light, in my direction.follows another, quote without commentary: “Even the ghosts disappear towards morning, but K. had remained there, his hands in his pockets, as if he was waiting – since he wasn’t leaving – for the hallway and all the rooms to leave. » In the same way, afterwards, the one who writes finds in a notebook this sentence, which her mother had pronounced “One June Evening” : “Do the dead drink? » Kafka, a century earlier, had answered for himself: “There is no such thing as a dying man drinking. »

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