My Life is a Novel

Jean-Marie Nadaud

In 1964, on tour with the Théâtre Populaire de Bretagne (TPB) created by writers Louis Guilloux, I played the role of a woman of the bourgeoisie, Angélique in Georges Dandin by Molière. I decided then to renounce the stage. In Paris, I saw some of the actors of the troupe, such as Jacques Rodriguez (on the left in the photo, below), cheeky and tragic, the servant in the play, and my confidante in real life as on stage, and also Angélique’s lover, Jean-Marie Nadaud (the second in the right). Jean-Marie was very talented, writing and drawing (to see his drawings), and he directed a short film, Le Chien Noir, before disappearing completely from the stage and from the screen. He was one of my most sensitive and tender friends, private and affectionate, I miss him. He helped me to cross the difficult frontier between teenager and adult.

Gérard Nahon

With Gérard Nahon, we met in a Library, and he « converted » me to the study of Religious Sciences : he supervised first my Memorandum, and then my Ph.D, on Ottoman Palestine. He helped me to half-open the door on a patch of my past, my family, our hidden memory. Erudite, patient and passionate, he escorted me sometimes amused, sometimes annoyed, sometimes maybe perplexed, but always good at sizing things up and with an open-mind. He told me once : « I’m not at all tolerant, I’m respectful. » So am I. When he left his teaching, I did his web site, as a goodbye present.

John O’Malley, s.j.

This Professor in Jesuit theology was, in fact, my only real encounter in a universe that loves secret paths. The enthusiasm of Father John, his great insight and cheerfulness, encouraged me in my investigations. I regret to see that he lives so far away, in Boston, because I would love, from time to time, to discuss with him for hours on end a world which he sees under the prism of obedience, indifference, discernment – Jesuit words with a special meaning, which he explains in the conclusion to the book I published and partly wrote on Jesuits, Les Jésuites ou la Gloire de Dieu.

Jean d’Ormesson

I interviewed, for the first time, the great writer and, later, director of Figaro, Jean d’Ormesson for TV. In order to really show his universe, I asked a cartoonist to draw an adaptation of the book “The Glory of the Empire”, by Jean d’O – as everybody used to call this son of one of the most well-known noble families in France. We saw each other many other times, notably when he applied to the Académie Française (at the time, he presented me to his mother, who was so sorry because the green uniform did not match the blue eyes of her son !), and at exquisite lunches like at the restaurant Lucas-Carton (place de la Madeleine). Much later I sent him a caricature of one of his ancestors, from the time of French Revolution, published in our book on Justice : half-naked, the ancestor was raping Lady Justice, with a quite impressive “tool”. Probably flattered of this revealed patrimony, Jean d’Ormesson invited me to a superb lunch in the garden of Palais-Royal. Affable, brilliant, often courageous, this last Mohican of the spirit preserves the essence of the French touch - panache.

Guitchka Petrova

Guitchka is here just behind the shoulder of theatre producer Maréchal, for a little get-together for the opera Carmen, in which she sang in the chorus, in October1981. This great singer of Plovdiv Opera, in Bulgaria, came to France when I was 13, and she took care of me, while going to courses and auditions. How many afternoons, we used to sing in « play-back » on the balcony, opposite the offices of the company Kléber-Colombes, the rear of the huge flat near the Place de l’Etoile – myself opening my mouth and miming while she sang, behind in the dark, the air of the Jewels in Faust! And through Guitchka, I knew her half-sister, Micheline Stancheva, another great singer at the Opera of Nancy, in France, who knows many gypsies’ songs.

Volodia Poliakov

Volodia, whit on the left Ilona and Bjorn Naumburg.

In the left of the photo, the clown from Quebec, Chatouille.

Brother of a famous writer, Volodia was, along with Valia Dimitrievitch the last of “Kessel’s Gypsies”. He sang at the « Tsarevitch », rue du colonel Renard, and till the end (he died at 90) remained a gentleman of the old times.

Agnès Rebattet

Agnès was a journalist at the Express and was travelling with her mother in Egypt when I met them, with my father. We immediately became friends, she was very lively and generous. She died recently from cancer, but invisible, virtual, she is still here, among us.


First name „22 Long“, it was the year of the names beginning with « R » … This little dog was a present to my friend the photographer Derrick Ceyrac, but I saw him all the time, giving him a lot of chocolate, and I remember him jumping like a shrimp or pushing my books to find behind the babies of my cat, Couscous.

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