Between 1914 and 1917, this farming couple sent each other nearly 1,500 letters full of love and desire. Their great-granddaughter, Cécile Plantié, edits their correspondence.
The centenary of the Great War caused an inflation of mail publications between couples long separated, without drying up this source. Certainly, the Plantié, sharecroppers of Lot-et-Garonne, parents of a 9-month-old boy, discuss, like so many others, the endless conflict and their daily life: that of Léon, first poured out in the territorial, thus having, more than the hairy ones, a certain freedom of speech and criticism with regard to the rulers and the rear, and that of Madeleine, “head of the family” and guardian of the land, but it is their love that is the backbone of their correspondence.
We have rarely read such an unveiling of the intimate: the lack of the other is expressed, the frustrated desire, but also his satisfaction in dreams, bluntly. Also the great-granddaughter of these lovers who are not, she says, heroes, felt, for a time, intrusive in their relationship. Twice, to protect her from prying eyes, these 1,500 letters – a selection of which is edited and finely commented here – have almost disappeared: although remarried since 1920, three years after the death of her husband, incorporated in the infantry, Madeleine decided, after reflection to keep them, as wished by the deceased; her stepdaughter thought of burning this love treasure, then changed her mind, preserving a family history and heritage.
This is how Cécile Plantié took it up, wondering about the link and the intergenerational transmission. Happy backup. She offers a letter, which, for once, is not amputated of its feminine part, because from 1915, Leon responds to the letter of his “Beloved”. By writing between the lines, in the margins, by underlining his sentences, by commenting on them, he establishes a real “Two-voice correspondence” ; these entangled words symbolically entwine the spouses and really consolidate the conjugal pact.
Cecile Plantie So many lost kisses… The intimate correspondence of Léon and Madeleine Plantié (1914-1917) Preface by Clémentine Vidal-Naquet. Bordeaux University Press, 520 pp., € 33.
Source: Libération by www.liberation.fr.
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