more from mahu, or the material





I’m very afraid when I go and see Sinture. He knows I hardly ever get any letters but I’ve got to talk to him. It’s not very interesting what he tells me. He talks to me about different people who receive letters and I know quite a lot of them. He makes sure that what he says isn’t interesting­—almost as if he does it out of spite. He sits at his desk and says "Ah, my dear Mahu, and to what do I owe this pleasure?" and goes on sorting papers or doing accounts. I say I’ve come to see if there’s any news but it’s just to give him some­thing to say. He says "Curious as ever! It’s your great fault, my dear fellow. Where were we now?" And I say, for example, "The story of Petite-Fiente" or something else. He says "Oh, yes. I remember" and he tells me everything as if he was reading it, yes, he remembers everything. He never says "Would Petite-Fiente have done such-and-such a thing or would she have changed her mind?" he says "So what could I do? There were two solutions. I chose that one. This is why." And he tells me why and so on and so forth. How does he do it? What he says really isn’t interesting. What is interesting is that he makes me afraid. He goes on with his typing or his accounts and says "Oh, yes, I’m behind every­thing, everything. I’m even writing your friend Latirail’s novel. He writes down what I tell him. Take his story of the Lice Seekers, do you know what it is? Its simply the corres­pondence between young Pinson and MIle Lorpailleur. The name Lorpailleur made him think of gold seekers and he changed it to lice seekers. And poor Pinson is dying of love for her."


He’ll ruin Latirail’s novel in the end, if only by whispering untruths in Mlle Lorpailleur’s ear. She comes from a very good family, I’ve been told she writes novels at the university.


I wish I were Sinture for one thing: he knows everything at once. He calls it unity. "The unity of a novel, my dear fellow," he says. "You don’t think I could write a novel! I just lay the bait and let someone else do the writing. Don’t tell Latirail about this." Of course I do tell Latirail about it because I find it very annoying that Sinture should tell him what to write. He says: "Tells me to write what? Do you think I’m a fool? Haven’t you ever heard me arguing with that silly bugger Sinture?" It was no use trying to convince him that Sinture already knew the end of his novel, he said I must be out of my mind. It didn’t bother him at all. But it frightens me. I think things like that are revelations.


I often think about Sinture with his pince-nez …


"You see that man over there?"




"It’s my cousin. He died last year. I was very fond of him. He used to do a lot of reading, as Sinture would say. He read the Imitation a great deal. He was always saying "In the Imitation it says such and such a thing." It’s a religious work. My cousin always went to Lourdes to do his Imitation I think. Can you see him? He hasn’t recognised me yet. What’s he got in his hand?


"The Horizon-Mou. The newspaper of Agapa."


"Ah, yes! I used to show that paper to Sinture when I came back from my holidays. He would say to me: ‘You and your news of Agapa, it’s nothing but idle gossip.‘ Which didn’t stop him from reading it all the same and then mixing up all the news of Agapa with what happened here.


Because he dictates novels to everybody, he also wants to dedicate them. He’s already spoken about it to Latirail who said "Mind your own business, you old wind-bag".


But I wonder if he is right to snub him like that. Even if he doesn’t think that Sinture dictates what he writes, supposing Sinture has his own revelations? Maybe he does. In any case he knows how the novels will end. And if he doesn’t dictate them, who does write them exactly, exactly as he wishes? Latirail isn’t bothered about it. I think it’s dangerous. Sinture is a bore, of course, but even so,can we afford to just ignore him? He holds all the trumps, he invented the poste restante, he makes marriages, he’s got novels. I darent say he dictates them any more. But he dedicates them. He’ll get his own way, in spite of Latirail. What is more, this is what he said to me about dedications: "When you dedicate books you tell people what you really think of them. In the case of Latirail’s novel, for example, I shall say what I think of MIle Lorpailleur. Not to mention young Pinson and the readers of MIle Lorpailleurs novels and all the letters poste restante that gave birth to the Lice Seekers. There are a great many of these letters. Its not just a matter of the Pinson­LorpailIeur correspondence. Oh no. It’s all the others as well, including those that Juan Simon puts inside parcels. When I say what I think of all these people I shall also be speaking for others. Do you imagine it’s amusing dictating to fools? Now I shall get my own back a bit, youll see. I dont mind telling you, in confidence, mind, that I loved Mlle Lorpail­leur’s mother. Her daughter might have taken after me. It was I who sent her to the University. I’m a bitter man, Mahu, a bitter man."




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