Reincarnation according to Bernard Weber

In his latest novel, Pandora’s box, Bernard Werber settles accounts with the lies of official history. His hero, a disillusioned high school teacher, discovers the lives of his former incarnations – from Atlantis to the trenches of 1914-1918, passing through ancient Egypt and the Japan of the samurai – … which the author says he has -even lived. The Press met him while he was in Montreal for the Salon du livre.

Updated Nov 15, 2018

What is the genesis of your book?

As a science journalist, in the 1980s, I wrote about hypnosis, quitting smoking, or surgeries without anesthesia. When I became a writer, I met during book signings in Bordeaux a neighbor who had written a book on hypnosis and asked him to teach it to me. I held a stiff girl with her feet on a chair and her head on another chair. But me, it didn’t work, I kept my free will. Then I met a medium who told me that I had had several lives in the past, 11 interesting and 100 mundane. As a novelist, I like stories, so I listened to her. Finally, in 1994, I met someone who introduced me to regressive hypnosis to explore our past lives. I asked to go to my life where I had known the greatest love story and found myself on an island. I ended up deducing 12 years ago that it was Atlantis. I continued because, as a novelist, it’s a way of getting stories to pop up in my head.

This reincarnation in Atlantis is found in your novel. And there were others…

There is also the life of the samurai. But since then, I have done many other regressions. I was a woman in a harem in 300 BC in Egypt. It was a small harem, we were 40 and we were bored. I was also an English soldier around 1200, during the Hundred Years War. It’s a profession comparable to the intermittents du spectacle, to film extras. Someone says to you “stand there”, we have no family or children. It was strange not being able to read the names of towns because I was illiterate, like everyone else before. The other thing that surprises is medicine. Barbers were called in because they had sharp razors and carpenters because they had saws. We still live in wonderful times.

You denounce the lies of official history. What do you think of the current debate on the fake news?

History is written by the victors and by those who are able to write it. The Gauls did not write and the libraries of Carthage were destroyed by the Romans. But we must not fall into excess and engage in revisionism.

Your hero is about to prove the existence of Atlantis, but finds his quest compromised by Muslim fundamentalism. What do you think of the current debate on Islamophobia?

It seems to me that there is a return of obscurantism which manifests itself in terrorism, intolerance towards other religions and the belief that women have an inferior status. This is a new test for our civilization of the Enlightenment. Not to mention Islam when an attack is carried out in its name is to put your head in the sand like an ostrich that will end up being eaten. This happened in Rotherham, England, where a network of Pakistanis were able to assault 1,000 young girls because the authorities were afraid it would look like Islamophobia.

One of your characters denounces the harmful effects of marijuana on memory. Does its legalization in several countries worry you?

As soon as we act on the brain or on the body, we have a rebalancing. Soft drugs have a mild negative effect, hard drugs a harder negative effect. Ideally, people who know how to deal with problems should be allowed to experience them, but make sure that fragile people do not take them. Marijuana amplifies perceptions, but is risky for psychosis and impairs memory. I wrote passages from Thanatonautsthose who describe life after death, after smoking excellent quality marijuana from Brazil, but afterwards I had memory lapses and difficulty concentrating.

We discern a link between your book The sixth sleep and Pandora’s box.

I am interested in discovering the frontiers of consciousness. Jules Vernes explored geographical frontiers, science fiction, technological frontiers. The real challenges now are consciousness, dreams, the unconscious. For me, Freud is a pioneer like Christopher Columbus.

A character in your book says that everyone is a prisoner of their own legend, of the story they tell themselves. What is the story of which you are prisoner?

I think I’m a prisoner of my mother’s legend. Since I was 3 years old, she told me that I was a genius, that I had to draw and go to the arts. I tried to please him when I’m a completely normal guy. I also advise all mothers to do this because it is a way of pushing their children to surpass themselves.

In Atlantis, your hero encounters a society whose conception of the couple can be described as modern. Is it also yours?

I see around me many couples in distress. Before, people died at 50, now at 100, so that imposes a new way of living together for men and women. We cannot promise each other eternal fidelity, otherwise the two suffocate.


Bernard Werber will be at the Salon du livre (booth 416) today, from 5 to 6 p.m.; tomorrow, 6 to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.; Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Three books by Bernard Webber

The ants (1991)His first novel earned him fame. This is the beginning of a trilogy that tells about the society of ants and the possibility for humans to communicate with them.

The encyclopedia of relative and absolute knowledge (1993)

It is in a way a dictionary to better understand the work of Werber. Initially composed of philosophical-scientific passages from Antsit has been reviewed and expanded a dozen times, including this fall.

Thanatonautes (1994)

This convoluted tale of communication with the afterlife, some chapters of which were written by “automatic writing”, ranks second among readers’ favorites on Bernard Werber’s site.

Reincarnation according to Bernard Weber

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The ants (1991)

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Reincarnation according to Bernard Weber

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