At the dawn of a new year, everyone dreams of mastering their destiny: nations as well as individuals. Calculate, predict and decree. And yet 2023 will inevitably have surprises in store for us, sudden hard knocks but also, dare we believe it, unexpected forks, unexpected good news and unsuspected energies.
This issue illustrates some of these life-altering turning points. Thus the existence of a Joseph Ratzinger, with a profile more theologian than pastor, more intellectual than a man of power, who was nevertheless elected pope at the very moment when he aspired to retire to write books. In this issue, we tell the story of Benedict XVI, whose funeral was celebrated on Thursday January 5 in Rome. Bruno Bouvet remembers in particular this September 12, 2008 at the College of Bernardins, meeting of the then pope with the French world of arts and culture. This evening, which brought together Benedict XVI and figures as diverse as Michel Serres, Olivier Py, Anne Roumanoff and Catherine Millet, deserves to be told about this moment when the intellectual and the theologian deployed themselves through the papal function. The most improbable encounters are sometimes the most fruitful.
The novelist Pierre Lemaitre did not become pope but ten years ago he won the Goncourt prize, which is in a sense to literature what the pallium is to religion. He published his first book at 55, won the Goncourt at 62. “It would have been given to me at 25, it would have been a ticket for cocaine”, tells us the author of Goodbye up there, who tells how much this recognition has changed everything. A vertiginous turn, “but there is vertigo and vertigo. There are vertigos where one loses footing. There, I am above all driven by the extravagance of destiny”.
See you in the pages that follow, but also in the issues to come for other fertile dizziness and appointments with the unexpected. As our newspaper’s promotional tagline points out, “And tomorrow will be just as surprising.”
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