I bought Romain Gary‘s book at the beginning of summer. I started reading it. I didn’t like it. I put it down, and waited. I went to Greece. I read La vie devant soi, same author. I loved it. I decided Romain Gary would be my favorite author. Then I went back to France. I told myself I couldn’t consider him as my favorite writer if I didn’t give a second chance to La promesse de l’aube. Then I heard that the novel was going to be made into a movie. I had no choice. I read it.
And I’ve spent hours, and days, and months since, wondering « why have I waited so long to understand this was a masterpiece ? »
A lot of you must know what this book’s about : kind of an autobiographic novel. But a special one. Sort of a double-portrait : the author’s, and his mother’s.
I’ve always been wondering at which point we can consider our life interesting enough to write hundred pages about it. But I believe that, for Romain Gary, it was an evidence. The point would rather be : « his life’s to much interesting not to write about it ». And I’m glad he did.
The story’s actually more about the ambiguous relationship the author had with his mother. A devoted, outstanding Russian mother, who had got a measureless love for France, and a boundless admiration for her kid.
« Ma mère me parlait de la France comme d’autres mères parlent de Blanche-Neige et du Chat Botté […]. »
In his novel, he talks – with such a divine writing style – about how all his life has turned around his mother, how his only goal was to satisfy her, never disappoint her. A woman he loved more than anything and anyone…
« J’ai toujours fait pour elle tout ce que j’ai pu. »
… and hated at the same time.
« Je lui en veux beaucoup ».
A loving but stifling mother, who counted on her son to take revenge on all injustices life had done to her. An education that caused culpability and the feeling to have a duty to her, the obligation to make her proud.
We often say – and I believe this hypothesis – that in order to make great art, we have to be broke inside, or a bit insane, or have had an experience that messed our head up bad. We say that tragedy is good for art. I think Romain Gary’s tragedy was this theatrical relationship, that inspired him so much, and made him a great artist – the greatest ever, to me.
But what’s the most surprising in his story, is that he deals with this situation with humour. The whole book is balanced between despair and humour. Humour was a weapon to him. An armor against the shame that often caused the intrusive love of his mother – and FOR his mother.
« Déjà l’humour était pour moi ce qu’il devait demeurer toute ma vie : une aide nécessaire, la plus sûre de toutes. »
Reading this book made me feel so close to the author, I felt like understanding him. And now, I can proclaim out loud : Romain Gary is definitely my favorite writer !
– What about you ? Have you read this book ? Do you like Romain Gary’s work ? Who’s your favorite author ? Tell me everything in the comments.