“The soul is an unprotected species”: Christian Bobin, death of a “Christian outside the walls”

The news of the death of the poet Christian Bobin spread like a shock wave on Friday November 25, after the official announcement of his death by Gallimard editions. He was swept away by a cancer that suddenly evolved in a devastating way. Slipping away on tiptoe, the poet of joy left as he had lived, in the greatest discretion. But the emotion aroused by his disappearance went beyond his circle of readers. “If he was our poet, that of a whole generation, it is because he was a Christian at heart”, supports his friend and former teacher, the philosopher Pierre Magnard, to whom he was bound by an intense intellectual and spiritual companionship. Crowned in 2016 with the prize of the French Academy for all of his work, Bobin had also just joined the illustrated Larousse, the ultimate honor which undoubtedly left him quite indifferent, he who had always kept away from social events.

The Creusotin poet made himself known to the general public in 1992, with The Most Lowspiritual meditation freely inspired by the life of Francis of Assisi: “Someone who speaks of the sky but with an incredible taste for the earth”, he explained. His immense work includes some sixty works, generally very short books of aphorisms slowly matured in the solitude of his Burgundian hermitage.

An original thought that rebels against any formalism

Books woven with light, whose evocative titles are already a whole poem: Sovereignty of the Void, Christ with poppies, Distance from the world, The Grace of Solitude, The missing part, The Pure Presence… So many darts harbingers of an original thought that defies all formalism. This “mad about purity” (not of a pseudo-moral purity but “of a purity which is life in its elementary atom”) radiated calm, humility, simplicity and kindness, report his friends, not to mention his thunderous laughter shaking well-established certainties.

Attention to reality is the secret of joy, he had discovered almost in the cradle, and it was from this inexhaustible treasure of the sensory world that he drew daily to then pass it through the sieve of a fragmented writing imperceptibly connecting it to Pascal, its leading author. Attention is the virtue of the heart: it is the key to our interiority, the key to the invisible. “If we want to see infinity in our lives, we just have to look at the faces of those around us”or : “to look at everything from a child’s height”.

No sentimentality, in fact, under the aerial whiteness of his prose. But on the contrary, a keen sense of spiritual combat as well as of the very thin border separating Heaven from hell. This dimension of the spiritual combat is particularly perceptible in his last opuscule, crossed by great tutelary figures (Kafka, Nerval, Novalis, Bach), which sounds retrospectively like a farewell. “The perfect storm is coming, that of the dead rolled with the living, of rivers of tar and sages with monkey bottoms”he mocks, more concerned, it seems, by the destruction of man, passed under the radar, than that of the widely commented planet: “The soul is an unprotected species. » At times, his breathing becomes, for the first time, panting: “We have crushed the legs of the Eternal, he can no longer take a step towards us. »

At the question : “Who is your God? »it was with a pirouette that he answered us, in 2019: “We always talk too quickly about God (with a capital D), and suddenly it makes him run away. » Another famous quote: “I found God in puddles, in the scent of honeysuckle, in the purity of certain books, and even in atheists. I have almost never found it among those whose job it is to talk about it. »

For Pierre Magnard, “Bobin’s faith is implicit, even if it does not manifest according to the canons of Christian doctrine. He is a Christian outside the walls, fascinated by the incognito of God, who reveals himself through the tiny signs of his Providence. And if we dig well, we find many references to Christ in his work. But a vagabond Christ, like the Poverello, who runs the main road, goes bareheaded, receiving everything head-on, death, the wind, injury, without ever slowing his pace: the incarnation of complete destitution. ..” The Christian outside the walls has henceforth rejoined the heavenly father whom he has sought all his life; dragging us along in his mad quest.

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“The soul is an unprotected species”: Christian Bobin, death of a “Christian outside the walls”

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