Un Sanctuaire à Skyros, Récit
Belles Lettres
Date de publication
Nombre de pages
21 x 14 x 1 cm
215 g

Un Sanctuaire à Skyros


Belles Lettres


This narrative in the form of a personal diary strives to address the following, day-by-day: Separated from his spouse, the narrator is staying with his young son in Skyros, the southernmost island of the Sporades archipelago, in the northern Aegean Sea. Why Skyros? Three legends intersect there that led to the forming of a sanctuary. It was in Skyros that Theseus, in exile, was assassinated, and it was there that Athenians came to look for his remains in order to institute the worship of this founding father of Athens. According to The Iliad, it was in Skyros that Achilles, disguised as a young girl, went into hiding to escape the Trojan War, until Ulyssses came to unmask him and take him to fight by his side. And it was in Skyros that a modern legend was born, one century ago: on April 23, 1915, the English poet Rupert Brooke, icon of "Englishness" and kouros of eternal poetic beauty, succumed to typhus while on his way to fight the Ottomans in Gallipoli. In this emblematic island, the narrator explores the relations that Western civilization has never ceased to maintain with Greece- the archaic and inexhaustible source of its imagination. For Un Sanctuaire à Skyros is also a tribute to Greece- ancient and contemporary. While admiring the island's landscapes, the narrator mentions a few islanders-Aspasia and Jasonas, among others- whom he befriended. Through them, he discovred certain virtues of the Greek people, whose language he was acquiring while his son was learning to swim. Mention is also made of a mysterious English woman who makes yearly pilgrimages to Rupert Brooke's tomb. The absence of a beloved or adored person, with which all these charatecers must come to terms, echoes the narrator's sentiments about the role and meaning of the sanctuary. The sanctuary is a theater of devotion and pilgrimage, a secret and sacred Mecca, a confined space lending itself to meditation and reverie, as irresistible as a magnetic pole. Imagination takes winf in this timeless enclave. Like ruins and wrecks, it is the breeding ground for fantaisies and phantoms. Within this circumscribed field, as in certain portrait photographs, we witness the convergence of mystical forces, the mental projection of powerful vision, the genesis of a web of metaphors, the manifestation of resonance spectra and all sorts of hallucinations. Though vested with the remains of a legendary figure, the sanctuary invokes revelations, putting us in touch with the "beyond". It is crucible in which the spiritual dimension of a civilization is molded. Such are a few of the thoughts that appear in this island journal. Novelist, essayist and translator of English and Italian into French, Lucien d'Azay was born in 1966. He has penned some fifteen books spanning an amalgam of biographical, musings, and keepsake genres: portraits intermingled with personal memories and literary reminiscences. He was awarded the 2012 Prix de la Revue des Deux Mondes for his essay, Trois excentriques anglais (Les Belles Lettres, 2011). Hist most recent books are Sur les chemins de Palmyre (La Table Ronde, 2012), Keats, Keepskae (Les Belles Lettres, 2014), Dictionnaire insolite de Florence (Cosmopole, 2015), Ashley & Gilda, autopsie d'un couple (Les Belles Lettres, 2016) and La Volupté sans recours (on Fragonard's Le Verrou) (Klincksieck, 2018)
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