“For a few months now, I have been re-reading the reports by Joseph Kessel republished in the Texto collection, such as The Time of Hope (1). I am one of his great admirers, I even have a small photo of him on my desk. Besides, I would like to be him when I grow up!
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As I tell in the fifth volume of Arab of the future (2), I discovered this author as a teenager when I unearthed a biography of Jean Mermoz in the library of my grandfather, who had met the aviator in his youth.
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Kessel’s account of his flight in an Aéropostale plane is incredible! As I reread his reports, I am fascinated by his way of observing history in the making, for example through his journey in the Red Sea in search of the last slave traffickers, his meeting with the first Zionists in Palestine or the underworld barons in Germany …
I still wonder how Kessel would have described our time, when everything goes so fast. What events will be retained by the great history? Kessel’s texts are very factual and at the same time extremely free and engaged. The fact that he joined the Resistance without hesitation impresses me a lot.
I love the way he inscribes his life in his novels, inserting a whole series of details that make the story alive and human. His books marked the culture of his time. Tintin is a kind of Kessel in many ways. Hergé did not hide it: he multiplied the nods to his reports in his albums. I often wonder – and this question makes me escape – what works today have this same effect. “
(1) Tallandier, 320 p., € 9.50.
(2) Allary, 184 p. € 22.90.