Guy Boley wins the Deux Magots 2023 prize for To My Sister and Only
Étienne de Montety, president of the jury for the Deux Magots prize, and the novelist Guy Boley, 2023 recipient for To my only sister. Le Figaro/Bertrand Guyard

The novel dedicated to the lives of Elisabeth and Friedrich Nietzsche by the French writer was chosen by the jury in the first round by seven votes to five.

In this third and voluminous novel, Guy Boley returns to the life and work of Friedrich Nietzsche, and the links which united him to his younger sister, Elisabeth, also close to Richard Wagner. A sister of whom he painted a striking portrait, both protector and contested editor of the philosopher who had sunk into madness and silence, and “bird of misfortune”, who had adhered to the anti-Semitic extremism of her husband, founder of ‘an Aryan colony in Paraguay, Nueva Germania.

We find there the style and originality of the writing of Guy Boley (born in 1952), noticed from his first novel published in 2016, and of autobiographical inspiration, Son of Fire (Grasset), which will be followed by a vibrant tribute to the father (When God boxed as an amateur).

A sharp and lyrical pen

Throughout the approximately 450 pages ofTo my only sister, Guy Boley offers us an eventful journey through these two intertwined family destinies. That of the music-loving philosopher, author ofThus spoke Zarathustrawho fell into madness and silence at the age of 45, and of Elisabeth, who did not hesitate to violently push her muse, Lou Salomé, out of the way of her brother and to redact her manuscripts before publishing them.

A double destiny for the one that Boley calls the “wandering fugitive”, “sovereign of his madness”, and this nazified shrew, who leads us from Leipzig to Venice, via Basel, Bayreuth, Nice, Genoa, Sils-Maria and the Paraguay. And the whole thing is told with a pen that is both sharp and lyrical, held by a Boley who is all fired up for his subject. Let us judge by this extract: “Go, whip the coachman, split the seas and the ether! Make the clouds tremble, make the storms swell, immediately send this young messenger to proclaim to the universe that he will have to die, this carnival God who boasts of having created everything as if, before him, nothing had existed: neither Pan, nor Isis, nor Vulcan, nor Torec, Alkan, Odin…”

Created in 1933, the Deux Magots prize has included writers as diverse as Raymond Queneau (first winner), Antoine Blondin for Truant Europethe flâneur André Hardellet, Christian Bobin in 1993 (The Very Low), the late Gilles Lapouge, Éric Neuhoff, and more recently, Serge Joncour or the young Pierre Adrian. The jury for the prize of this famous brewery in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is chaired by Étienne de Montety, from Figaro, and counts, in particular, among its members Isabelle Carré, Clara Dupont-Monod, Benoît Duteurtre, Jean-Luc Coatalem and Abel Quentin. The prize is 7700 euros.

By Editor

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