les vœux de Victor Hugo et Art Buchwald

Nos vœux pour l’année 2015.

Les vœux de fin d’année m’ont toujours paru un exercice artificiel.
A-t-on déjà vu – sauf dans certaines tragédies grecques – les gens souhaiter autre chose que des lieux communs habités d’une consternante platitude, d’une indigence intellectuelle navrante, voire d’une sourde indifférence ?

Une anecdote savoureuse : Deux amis, tout frais réconciliés se retrouvent. Le premier dit à l’autre:
-Je te souhaite tout ce que tu me souhaites.
-Ah non ! s’écrie l’autre tu ne vas pas recommencer.

Alors pour ce périlleux exercice, allions la suprême aristocratique élégance de Marcel Proust aux bulles de champagne et à l’intelligence pétillante du plus célèbre et du plus spirituel des columnists américains : le délicieux Art Buchwald dont la passion pour la France fût constante.

À toutes et à tous nous souhaitons donc le même bonheur que nous avons eu à la lecture du questionnaire de Proust.

Et puisque vœux il y a, nous vous offrons ceux de l’immense Victor Hugo.

A toutes et à tous, amis et fidèles lecteurs, bonne et heureuse année !


Leo Keller

Art Buchwald


For half a century, Art Buchwald has captured the ironies of American life. Now 80, the seasoned satirist reflects on Paris, laughter, and his growing battle with kidney failure.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being healthy.
What is your greatest fear?
That I won’t be healthy.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Mark Twain.
Which living person do you most admire?
Jimmy Carter.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I’m egotistical, and I’m always bragging.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Putting me on hold while on telephone calls.
What is your greatest extravagance?
It’s changed now, but probably my computers and cameras.
What is your favorite journey?
Paris from 1948 to 1962.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
People who say they’ve got to tell the truth.
On what occasion do you lie?
Only in my column.
Which living person do you most despise?
I despise people who tell me what God wants. They don’t know any more than I do.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I’m not a clotheshorse. I hate to take haircuts and I hate to shave. I have to shave twice a day. I guess I’m in the same boat as Nixon. He had to shave twice a day, too.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“I love you.” I even say it to people I hardly know.
What is your greatest regret?
That by the time this article comes out I might not be here. But knowing that I am going to be in Vanity Fair, I’d like to stick around. If I’m in heaven, I hope I can get the issue there. If not, maybe your circulation department will give a discount to those already up there.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife, Ann, whom I was married to for 40 years.
When and where were you happiest?
Paris, when I was working for the New York Herald Tribune from 1948 to 1962. I owned Paris. I had readership there that I would have never had in the States.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Living.
What is your current state of mind?
Terrific. I am happy because I went into the hospital and I’ve gotten a lot of publicity. I now get to see all of my friends and family, and I am able to say good-bye to all of them.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d probably get a new kidney. That would be nice.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
I want them to be happy and to get along with each other. And I want them to miss me.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Making people laugh. I don’t know if it’s an achievement, but I love doing it.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
As I am.
What is your most treasured possession?
All of my writing—my 32 books and all of my columns.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
I had two depressions. You can’t get much lower than that.
Where would you like to live?
Washington. Mainly because all of the action is here. I’m not a person who vacations, goes fishing, or plays golf. I just love to work.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’m a big fantasizer.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Honesty.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
If she likes me, I like her. They asked me that about Hillary Clinton. She likes me, and if that’s part of her character, I like her.
What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty.
Who are your favorite writers?
Bob Benchley, E. B. White, Irwin Edman, and all those guys who came out of The New Yorker.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Captain John Yossarian, from Catch-22.
Who are your heroes in real life?
It’s hard in the world I live in to have heroes.
What is it that you most dislike?
Bigotry, people who lie to you, politicians who lie because they have the power to do so—just anybody who tries to BS you.
How would you like to die?
I am in a place now that the chances of me being gone by the time this comes out are pretty good. I have been here for 10 weeks, and I’ve seen all my friends and loved ones. It’s a beautiful place. Where I am now is a wonderful place to go.
What is your motto?
“To be or not to be: that’s a good question.”

Art Buchwald

 

• Victor HUGO

Vœu

Si j’étais la feuille que roule
L’aile tournoyante du vent,
Qui flotte sur l’eau qui s’écoule,
Et qu’on suit de l’oeil en rêvant ;

Je me livrerais, fraîche encore,
De la branche me détachant,
Au zéphyr qui souffle à l’aurore,
Au ruisseau qui vient du couchant.

Plus loin que le fleuve, qui gronde,
Plus loin que les vastes forêts,
Plus loin que la gorge profonde,
Je fuirais, je courrais, j’irais !

Plus loin que l’antre de la louve,
Plus loin que le bois des ramiers,
Plus loin que la plaine où l’on trouve
Une fontaine et trois palmiers ;

Par delà ces rocs qui répandent
L’orage en torrent dans les blés,
Par delà ce lac morne, où pendent
Tant de buissons échevelés ;

Plus loin que les terres arides
Du chef maure au large ataghan,
Dont le front pâle a plus de rides
Que la mer un jour d’ouragan.

Je franchirais comme la flèche
L’étang d’Arta, mouvant miroir,
Et le mont dont la cime empêche
Corinthe et Mykos de se voir.

Comme par un charme attirée,
Je m’arrêterais au matin
Sur Mykos, la ville carrée,
La ville aux coupoles d’étain.

J’irais chez la fille du prêtre,
Chez la blanche fille à l’oeil noir,
Qui le jour chante à sa fenêtre,
Et joue à sa porte le soir.

Enfin, pauvre feuille envolée,
Je viendrais, au gré de mes voeux,
Me poser sur son front, mêlée
Aux boucles de ses blonds cheveux ;

Comme une perruche au pied leste
Dans le blé jaune, ou bien encor
Comme, dans un jardin céleste,
Un fruit vert sur un arbre d’or.

Et là, sur sa tête qui penche,
Je serais, fût-ce peu d’instants,
Plus fière que l’aigrette blanche
Au front étoilé des sultans.

Victor Hugo

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