Frederic Beigbeder: French Literature’s Enfant Terrible

Those of you who do not know who Frederic Beigbeder is, he’s French writer, literary critic and a TV presenter. He created a bunch of awards, was awarded a bunch of awards, wrote some good stuff, wrote some bad stuff, and was once arrested for snorting cocaine off the hood of a car.

He’s become less and less of a rebel, and chose to distance himself from the kind of things that have once made him famous.

He did write Love Lasts Three Years, which is almost romantic, almost cute, and almost erotic. Most of his stuff is almost something. Almost auto-biographical, almost brilliant, almost annoying, almost good, almost bad, almost almost.

He’s almost a writer, but not quite.

He’s almost a rebel, but not really. Not anymore.

It might seem as if I am criticizing him for not going all the way with it. No. But it does prove a certain point:

“A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets make a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.” – Oscar Wilde

The one dilemma that truly works for us artists is whether we become artists or art. Whether we want to create the kind of art that will be remembered for hundreds, if not thousands of years. But this means almost giving up on living life. The only fun you’ll have is in the stories you’ll write, in the paintings you’ll paint, in the music you’ll compose.

On the other hand, you can become art.

Maybe this is heresy, but Dali is not that good. But he was eccentric to the point of being art, acting like art, being the kind of character that doesn’t usually inhabit the realm of men. This, in turn, made him famous.

Brilliant artists are dull creatures.

The Beigbeders of the world have to be content with being almost brilliant. Almost, but not quite. They may like partying too much, or beautiful women, or they want to play it safe and don’t got all in.

Art demands a great sacrifice from a person, and this is most obvious when reading Frederic Beigbeder’s novels. If he had dedicated himself a bit more, if he had tried a bit more, if he had spent more time at his desk, writing, instead of snorting cocaine off the hoods of cars in Paris, then…

He could have been more than almost.

But maybe he would have been a terrible company at dinner parties.

Who knows?

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