July 29, 2021

back from planet Madness

“L’Intime Etrangère”, by Anne Révah, Mercure de France, 136 p., € 14, digital € 10.

Electroshock, madness, suicidal thoughts. The first pages of Anne Révah’s new book may worry the reader and make him hesitate to undertake the journey proposed to him The Foreign Intimate. A sentence nevertheless quickly comes to offer a brighter perspective to this sixth novel, which we guess nourished by the experience of the novelist: “You were very mad, and now you’re almost healed.” “ Perceiving the courage it took for the patient whose story Anne Révah relates, in the guise of a certain Suzanne Reinhold, the reader takes small steps, vaguely ashamed of her hesitations, and quickly won over by the clarity. and the sobriety of the text.

Snippets of events

Because it is rare that the stories of dispossession of oneself are carried by such an economy of means. The writing of madness often takes into account the intensity of the experience lived by the destructuring of its syntax or its narrative structure, and marks by all possible stylistic means the hyperbolic violence of the ordeal passed through.

No doubt the choice of a narration that seems almost “litotic” is due first of all to the fact that the electroshock precisely deprived Suzanne of most of her memories. To write, for her, is first of all to bring together the snippets of events that her memory has preserved from this “Incredible trip” from which she came back. “It’s not the question of why it happened, she says to herself, you are not there, everything in its time. You want facts, a timeline. Because you kept the sensations, the echo of certain sentences pronounced, benchmarks, but there are whole weeks which are stripped, especially the hospitalization. “

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Herself a psychiatrist, and knowing well the clinical picture of “This rare form of melancholy called Cotard syndrome”, however nothing could make him think that ” this kind of things “ was going to happen to him, “A small cog somewhere that seized up and made a short circuit”. A voice that intimates him, with a “Throw yourself” imperative, to commit suicide. She will say to herself later that after all the meaning was perhaps rather that of “taking the plunge”, of living her life.

The suffering of loved ones

Anne Révah describes the shame that grips and obsesses Suzanne at the idea that colleagues or colleagues may learn that she, the devoted psychiatrist, was able to switch into the world of the patients she was supposed to treat. Above all, she admirably evokes the role played by those close to her (whom she no longer recognizes during her most serious crises) and hints at the suffering that was also theirs when they believed they had irreparably lost the friend. , the girl or the partner they knew. By agreeing to tell her a little about what she has lived and forgotten, they make the earthquake that this delusional episode in the woman they love resonate deeply and modestly with each of them.

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