"The death of François Baudot". (Extrait d'un article de Bernard-Henri Lévy paru, aux Etats-Unis, dans le Huffington Post du samedi 8 mai 2010.)

logo huffingtonHe was, indeed, a character right out of Proust. He was, as Sartre would have also said, an individual « of no importance to the community » whose death, I imagine, will be given just a few lines in the papers. His name was François Baudot. He was an old friend I scarcely saw in the last months, but whose suicide at the age of 60 moves me deeply. I see him again, colossal and refined. Secret and dazzling. More snobbish than a character out of Thackeray, and more disdainful of snobbery than Thackeray himself. I see him again, in the Palace years, sensing like no one else the spirit of approaching times, but turning away at the precise moment when that spirit became dominant. I hear him, at dinners in the summer, unbeatable when it came to Italian painting and contemporary art, the history of France and its continuities, keys to the books of La Bruyère, Saint Simon, Balzac or, once again, Proust. I remember the refined and erudite Art d’être pauvre (The Art of Being Poor) this grand dandy, having, naturally, never written anything, finally decided to write, of which I was the publisher. I see him again, the last time we ran into each other, the swollen, too fleshy face that no longer looked like him–and there I should have seen the sign of a definitive conflict with this world. Few men will have felt their times to such a degree and at the same time detested them so intensely. Few of our contemporaries will have anticipated the rendez-vous of contemporary history as he, François Baudot, did, but without ever really finding his place there. It was said that Robert de Montesquieu died of being recognized, all too obviously, in A la recherche du temps perdu . Could it be that one dies, as well, of not having found his « Recherche » and to have remained, until the very end, a character seeking a purpose? A sort of Charles Haas who, not having met his Proust, would never become Swann and, consequently, would have developed an irremediable sorrow?
Bernard-Henri Lévy


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