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three pairs of lovers with space



Gabriel Michel Hippolyte Matzneff (born 12 August 1936) is a prize-winning French writer, who began writing journals in 1953. Presented here are all the passages of Greek love interest concerning his stay in Egypt in 1971, taken from Élie et Phaéton. Journal 1970-1973 (Elijah and Phaethon. Journal 1970-1973), published by la Table ronde in Paris in 1991. The translation is this website’s.


Elijah and Phaethon

On 26th March, Matzneff, who had been in Egypt since 16 March, flew to Luxor. That evening:

12 in Luxor 1971 d3

     The Great Pan is not dead.[1] I note that at 11 pm. Before dinner, I was approached by a group of young boys, of whom two were very good-looking. Conversation in Franco-Anglo-Russian slang (there are many who speak Russian here). Rendezvous at 9 p.m. in the garden. I dine with a Swiss named Ziegler, I go out. Nobody in the garden. I go into the street where I am immediately joined by one of the boys, one of the two most beautiful. Bright smile, pretty sensual mouth, velvety cheeks, fiery eyes, tanned and graceful neck emerging from the djelabieh, twelve years old. I ask him his name. It’s something like Mowatani, but I’m definitely distorting. He asks me mine. I tell him. “Are you a Christian?” he asks me. “Yes, and you’re a Moslem?” He shows me the cross tattooed on his right wrist. “No, Christian!” People look at us. I look unconcerned, as if I’m not really interested. I ask him to show me the Coptic church. After the church: “Can we go to the Nile?” Yes, we can. “What time do you have to be home?” “At 9:30, and my watch says it’s almost 10.” Nevertheless, he comes with me, his school books under his arm: a French grammar book and an exercise book in Russian. We sit down by the edge of the water...
     Ah well, the Copts! I’ll tell Chrysostom.[2] As I was leaving, my schoolboy declares to me that he has never seen a man as handsome as me. Such a compliment, in that adorable mouth, is enough to justify my trip to Egypt.
     To make love near the temple of Luxor, a few metres from the ithyphallic gods![3] [pp. 111-2]


To continue reading Matzneff’s journals in chronological order, turn here to Elijah and Phaethon, 1970-3.


[1] The highly sexual Greek God Pan has often been imagined as favourable to erotic adventure. A contemporary story reporting his death in the 1st century AD is unique in antiquity as a claim that a god had died and has since been vaguely associated with the emergence of Christianity and the eventual triumph of its anti-sexual doctrines.

[2] Chrysostom was Matzneff’s nickname for an old androphile friend of his, a fellow Russian Orthodox friend and a subdeacon with whom he had gone on holiday in Italy in 1962. See Matzneff in Northern Italy, 1962-71.

[3] If the account of Nil Koytcheff (ie. Matzneff)’s life in Matzneff’s highly-autobiographical novel Isaïe réjouis-toi (Isaiah rejoice) is accurate, this was his first sex with a boy since his marriage to Tatiana Scherbatcheff fourteen months earlier.