For all those who loved his books, the loss of Christian Bobin is like the loss of a friend whose texts could be read over and over again, like a breviary to help us through life.
Born in Le Creusot, to which he has remained faithful – from working-class culture to the taste of the forests that surround him – Christian Bobin has found refuge in books since childhood. There will be Claudel, Kafka, Ramuz, Beckett, Ponge, Apollinaire and Gustave Roud to whom he will devote the dreams of a Useless book in 1992; but also the philosophers, whom he studied with passion, before embarking fully in writing.
At 26 he published his first work, the Purple letter, In the 1980s, he chose prose and short forms to develop a writing full of poetry and spirituality.
«Small music boxes filled with ink», Christian Bobin’s books described and deciphered for us in an almost ascetic, interiorized way, the troubles in our lives. He knew how to elucidate the simple joy crystallized by A little party dress, find the gush of a river behind the violin and piano sonata described in Mozart and the rainbut also to accompany us in the face of grief with More than alive.
Deeply marked by faith, he received in 1993 the Prix des Deux Magots and the Grand prix catholique de littérature for The Very Low, an immense success among readers and critics, which evokes through the image of Saint Francis of Assisi his vision of the divine, as close as possible to people and as close to things as possible. His writings and reflections will always remain faithful.
Being poetic, generous loner, Christian Bobin offered us for nearly fifty years in his books an exploration of themes that we all share: grief, sensitivity to nature, the passage of time, intimacy and, always, the need for meditation. Winner of the Academy Prize of the French Academy in 2016, Christian Bobin was able to soothe us with a praise of slowness, revealing the beauty of the world.
In A swing sound, he wrote in 2017 about the books he loved so much:
I knocked on the doors of silence, music, and even death, but no one opened. So I stopped asking. I liked the books for what they were, blocks of peace, breaths so slow you can barely hear them.”
If his disappearance leaves an immense void, his books will continue to offer us the most beautiful and deepest breaths, those that give the strength to live.
I extend my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.