Life behind you

Life behind you


For his last lecture at the Collège de France, Antoine Compagnon indulged in the final reflection on literature, art, music through a kaleidoscope of the word "end". But what are the "ends of literature"? Does this mean that the writer has to stop his creative activity or should we understand that word in terms of creative twilight? Is the artist more creative in youth or in adulthood? Is old age a decline or an apotheosis? Through examples from antiquity to the present day Antoine Compagnon brings our civilization’s thinking about age. This book is not really a lecture, but a wandering odyssey. The author describes his work as follows:

„How to end the life of a writer? This question arose during my final year of lecturing at the Collège de France, as I was about to retire. I had just lost a very close friend, my companion for many years, so the winter was sad. Literature also has an important connection with death, grief and melancholy. From Montaigne to Roland Barthes there is a common thread. However, late writing aroused less curiosity than the style of painters and musicians, affected by the shortcomings of the body - hand, eye or ear. ‛You should stop working at a certain age; because all people fail', says Bernini, standing in front of Poussin's latest paintings. These new lessons and lectures continue this meditation on the end, the outcome, the age, the state of the senile, but also the sublime, on the ultima verba, the swan song, the second occasion, the eternal poet. Maurice Blanchot, quoting Hugo von Hofmannsthal, who quoted Djalâl ad-Dîn Rûmî, writes: ‘He who knows the power of the circle is not afraid of death.’”

 


  • Year of the edition: 2022
  • Original title: La vie derrière soi
  • Original language: French
  • Translation: Marko Maras