Portrait of Julia Kristeva
John Foley Opal
To visit the psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, is to make a trip between left bank and the island of Ré, between sea and garden, between yesterday and today. On the building where she lives, next to the Luxembourg park, - a plaque indicates that Michelet resided there. Nice wink to cross the destiny of the pope of history! Intimate chat on Julia Kristeva's navy couch.
Double literary news for Julia Kristeva. Her sixth novel with "The Enchanted Clock": a fiction mixed with autobiography that takes us to the court of Louis XV around the fabulous astronomical clock programmed to give time until 9999! And a talk book with her husband, the novelist Philippe Sollers. Once is not customary, the former student of Barthes, a great intellectual, figure of psychoanalysis, had fun to show another facet: Julia at home.
In her apartment in the Vavin neighborhood, which is also the practice where she receives her patients, the antique furniture mixes with contemporary design. As for the heroine Nivi of her "Enchanted Clock", the flowers - the oleanders - and the "Lux" (Luxembourg) have her favor. In love with perfumes and colors, he also comes to cooking to prepare his favorite recipes. But books always have the last word. They occupy all his life and invade his interior. From the cellar to the office, they are everywhere to the point that she even had to imagine a classification with cards to find them. However, Julia Kristeva is well in her time, hyper-connected news news channels which she is fond of. Interview top time but as timeless.
If I vWe say "M" as House, what does this mean to you?
Julia Kristeva: Abstract words: stability, lots of light and the ability to think in peace. And then, I see our house on the Ile de Ré, at the edge of the ocean and salt marshes. It was a small manor house of the Ancien Régime which was destroyed by the Germans, then modestly rebuilt. My most moving image is when I sit in front of the computer in the veranda: there is a white swan (now a character in The Clock Enchanted) who watches me night and day, he had to make his home here . He embodies stability and the ephemeral.
And at your home ? Your favorite room where you like to be and spend time?
Julia Kristeva: It's obviously in my office. Since I'm a professor emeritus, even though I'm continuing my classes, it's the place where I spend the most time and receive my patients. The famous couch is a boat bed with drawer, covered with a navy blue cover with cushions of the same fabric. From my childhood Bulgarian, I kept a cushion "baroque", a reproduction of a drawing of an Italian painter that my mother had embroidered. This local touch, quite discreet, brighten up the navy blue.
Where did you write your new novel "The Enchanted Clock"?
Julia Kristeva: Mostly in my office because I work mostly at night. "The Enchanted Clock" haunted me for five years and was a dive both in my life and the times of Versailles and Louis XV. It required a lot of documentation to understand this clock designed by Claude-Siméon Passemant to give the time until 9999! She is still walking. I sometimes had the impression of living in the cabinet of Louis XV where is placed this marvel rococo, a cabinet that I visited recently with my friend Anish Kapoor.
In Sophie Zhang's Ile de Ré office
Your furniture: rather modern, ultra design, family, pitcher?
Julia Kristeva: It's a mix of old and new. I think the Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture - goes well with contemporary furniture. When we moved in, I bought a coffee table and a sofa of the Italian brand Cassina for which I have a passion. And from my Bulgarian origins, I kept a small icon of three healer saints and a Goblin representing the Virgin and Child: my mother had embroidered it while she was pregnant with me.
The most unusual or unexpected that can be discovered at home?
Julia Kristeva: This is the time found! My guests are quite surprised that my interior is not austere. There is, it seems, a kind of warm luxury, with books and colors both discreet and lively.
An object or piece of furniture that you could not separate?
Julia Kristeva: A secretary Louis XV in which I put my first notebooks of the nursery school then of the French Alliance, written in French, letters of my father ...
An everyday object that symbolizes your relationship with Philippe, whose essay "Marriage Considered as a Fine Art" has just been published?
Julia Kristeva: There are constantly books that are exchanged. And especially the essential phone between us. In the bathroom, we have the same passion for soaps, perfumes ... I am very fond of bath trinkets.
Your favorite color in your home?
Julia Kristeva: Blue and yellow. I replaced the black carpet with a beautiful light parquet glazed in all rooms. The keys of blue dominate by the cushions and I chose curtains yellow-gold.
The kitchen, rather open or closed?
Julia Kristeva: Closed kitchen, near the living-dining room. I use it only for breakfast or sometimes for a quick lunch with a friend. It is in the dining room that we take our meals.
A dish unexpectedly on the go for your friends? Your specialty?
- A recipe transmitted by a friend, the publisher Ivan Nabokov, nephew of the writer: a salmon trout with ginger. The trout is marinated in Pineau des Charentes with ginger powder, it is browned in butter with fresh ginger and then put in the oven for 20 minutes under aluminum foil. Trout can be replaced with salmon.
- My specialty: half-salt pork with forty cloves, a recipe that combines sweet and savory. Desalt and soften for 3 hours in simmering water with onions; prick it with 40 cloves and roast it in the oven with a brown sugar pineapple sauce. Serve with rice with Chinese mushrooms! It's a delight. I learned this recipe from the great professor and philosopher of mathematics, Jean-Toussaint Desanti.
- For Bulgarian recipes - fond of feta cheese, peppers with feta cheese or minced meat - my mother passed them on to me but I do not want to compete!
House on the island of Ré by Julia Kristeva
And the TV, which room?
Julia Kristeva: Everyone wants to see his show and sometimes it creates conflicts: so there are TVs in all rooms. It is lit continuously but often without sound. When I look at it, it's for news and debate. I also like the American series, my opium of the people! Dr. House or a police series is very good for sleeping.
Do you live with music or rather in silence?
Julia Kristeva: Silence but I never feel alone. Silence is only between two pages or looking up. I also listen to music, especially when I compose my novels: classical, baroque or jazz.
Rather candle or rather perfume of atmosphere?
Julia Kristeva: In my office, I put scents of atmosphere to shake the air! In the evening for the big vigils, I discovered the Trudon waxes.
Curtains, doors, shutters? What does it inspire you?
Julia Kristeva: In Paris, I sleep open curtains: I need to have morning light except at Ile de Re. There is a lot of wind there and I used to sleep shuttered shutters.
What is on your bedside table?
Julia Kristeva: A binder or a notebook: the first nocturnal jets are written in pencil on large pages. My glasses. One of the books of the moment. I have a Sony radio that I listen to when I'm not sleeping. I like to know what's going on in this world of disasters.
Do you dream of one more room? If so, for what purpose?
Julia Kristeva: I have an absolute fantasy: to have the apartment next to ours because it gives more on the garden of Luxembourg.
Rather orderly or messy?
Julia Kristeva: I was pretty messy with the books. Even the cellar is full of it. To find them more easily, helped by a student, I made cards - which we even started to scan - which indicate their location. This organization impresses a lot my family.
Are you green plants, flowers, balcony, terrace, garden?
Julia Kristeva: I love flowers. In my office, I have an orchid but the unfortunate girl does not have much room because everything is cluttered with books. I also have green plants in the living room and, at the kitchen window, we put geraniums lemongrass that come from the Ile de Ré.
It is there that I can devote myself to my passion for gardening during the summer: I prune the roses, I take care of hollyhocks, geraniums that I planted on a small rock at the edge of an arm of the sea that runs along the house, altheas, lavender, verbena, hydrangeas, wisteria. It's my attraction!
In Julia Kristeva's House of Re
Your addresses or favorite brands for the home?
- For home fragrances: L'Occitane, Le Comptoir du Sud Pacifique and Marseille soap;
- For kitchen accessories: Alessi;
- For the dishes: Villeroy and Boch; Limoges Bernardaud, Raynaud for special occasions;
- For chocolate: Jean-Claude Hévin.
Julia Kristeva's news:
- The Enchanted Clock, Fayard;
- Of the marriage considered as one of the fine arts, Fayard, interview with Philippe Sollers;
- Guest of honor at the 4th edition of "Mode d'Emploi", a festival of ideas in Lyon (November 2015),
- Every Monday 12h50 / 12h55n in his column "The word of the week", on RCJ.
His website: www.kristeva.fr