Kolkata: Amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has still kept the world on edge, French author Patrick Deville on a winter evening in Kolkata threw light upon his 2012 book Plague and Cholera, which is based on the life of bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin.
Deville was in the city recently and was engaged in a candid conversation with author-translator-publisher Dr Sunandan Roy Chowdhury at Oxford Bookstore in Park Street.
When Chowdhury asked what prompted him to write Plague and Cholera, Deville said, “This book is a part of a very long literary project which I will count for 25 years. In the 20th century, I published five novels of fiction in a very special publishing house in France.
“The publishing house is small but very famous because it was created during the second World War. After the war, the publishing house became the house of a French literary school. When I wanted to write and publish books, I absolutely wanted to publish in that publishing house.
“From the 1980s to the end of the century, I published five fiction novels. Then I decided to change not only my work but was also looking for a new literary form for years.”
In his works, Deville tours the world with his writer’s quill and shares stories from around the globe. When asked why he mentioned sea routes in his books, Deville said he finds air travel boring.
“It was the second industrial revolution in Europe so it was a moment when the world was getting smaller because of the ways of travel,” he said. “Often in the books, I give the time to travel (because) every 20 years smaller and smaller and smaller. Flying was not exciting. Traveling by boat was fantastic.”
After graduating with comparative literature and philosophy, Deville served as the French Cultural Attache at the young age of 23 and debuted in the literary world in 1987. As he says, opted for university education to read. “I went to University to read. I studied Comparative Literature and Philosophy, but only on the pretext of becoming a writer,” he said.
Souvik Ghosh/Indiablooms News Service