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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 on 1 August 1953, when he was nearly seventeen. The earliest were published as Cette  camisole de flammes. Journal 1953-62 (This Flaming Straitjacket. Journal 1953-1962) by La Table ronde in Paris in 1976.

Presented here are all the passages of Greek love interest except those concerning his visits to Algeria and Italy, which are presented separately and linked below. The translation is this website’s.



Saturday 1st August

The journal opens on this day. Matzneff was nearly seventeen and apparently on holiday with his family on the coast of Normandy.

Henrys Paul. Le signe dans la pierre

In Houlgate’s bookshop, I bought le Signe dans la pierre by Paul Henrys, a love story between boys. Painful reading, which revives in me the awareness of all that I have known and of which I am now deprived, exiled. Where are you, my passionate, burning friends? At your horrible burning, that of solitude. I have left the pretext dress and put on the tunic of Deianeira.[1] [p. 15]

Tuesday 4 August. […] My family is no help to me, on the contrary. Since the age of eleven, very precisely since the day my mother summoned me to the little sitting-room and signified to me that she disapproved of my friendship with Hugues A., I made it a rule no more to trust anything in her and to build an impenetrable wall between my family life and my private life. I live in my mother’s home like I would in a hotel. [p. 16]

Wednesday 5 August. The Little Singers of Paris,[2] in the casino of Cabourg. Oasis of freshness, of beauty, of purety. Moving.

Thursday 6 August. Only one thought occupies me: to see them again, once more.
     In the street, a boy calls out to me:
     “You are one of them, you, of the little singers?”
     Me, laughing:
     “I would have grown a lot during the night!”
     “It’s because there is a big one, a blond with light eyes, who resembles you,” the boy explains to me.
     Here they come, in little groups, still more charming than yesterday evening. They chat, laughing, paying no more attention to me than if I were a statue. The brunette soloist with the marvellous voice and sad, gentle face stays away with another little singer, his friend perhaps. I like him.
     The bus moves away to the sounds of an ultimate “It’s only a ‘See you again’ “. I remain alone, transfixed. […]

Tuesday 11 August. […]

Reflecting on Russian Orthodoxy, in which he was brought up as the son of Russian émigrés:

     Frankly, God doesn’t mean much to me at the moment. I have other worries, other desires. And yet, meeting God should be so much more exciting than groping little boys. [...]
     30th September. Met Alain P. It’s a strange feeling to see again a boy I loved madly, but of whom I never knew if he felt more than sympathy for me. [pp. 17-8]

Matzneff Gabriel. Self portrait at 17
Gabriel Matzneff, Self-Portrait at 17

In Paris:

    Wednesday 9th December. Salle Pleyel, I find again my little soloist from 5 August. With binoculars, I observe his brown hair, his slightly arched nose, his full, his full well-hemmed lips, his pale complexion, his forehead beaded with a few drops of sweat, his sad smile. He must be about twelve. After the concert, I watch for him at the exit on rue Daru. He doesn’t get on the choir school bus, but walks away with a man and three women of modest means. My heart pounding, I follow them. They walk back towards the Etoile, along the Avenue de Wagram. I walk right behind them, and I hear one of the women talking to the boy: “Bernard!” So his name is Bernard, my pretty shepherd boy. At l’Etoile, they take the 31; I do too. The old people go and sit down; Bernard and I stay on the platform. I watch him all the time. He’s very handsome like that, his face exposed to the night wind, his brown hair flowing low down his neck. They get off at D.; I follow them, not without caution. Suddenly, they disappear around the corner, or rather the bend in rue E., at number... I am left alone.
    Why didn’t I speak to him? Why didn’t I tell him about Cabourg? Why this pusillanimity, so out of character for me? This kid petrifies me.

    Terrible crisis. Terrible loneliness. Despair. The burn of hell.
    Adolescence, this flaming straitjacket. [p. 20]



13 March. The Vienna Boys’ Choir. The adorable freshness of these boys with pink cheeks and blond hair.
     Semper ego auditor tantum? [Have I always been so much a listener?] [p. 23]

Alexei czarevich 01 1912
The Tsarevich Alexis in 1912
If I have the portrait of the Tsarevich Alexis in my bedroom, it’s not through monarchist belief (the only –ism to which I adhere in politics is anarchism), it’s because this boy, massacred at the age of fourteen, appears to me the beauty of childhood, vanquished, dirtied by adult shit.

Freud notes that the absence of a father favours pederastic tendencies in the young boy. […]

    Fifteen-year-old princes dance their saraband in my burning heart. (Monday 14 June.) […]

Matzneff was on the coast of the Pas-de-Calais for the remaining entries of 1954 extracted here:

    Le Touquet. […] I bind myself in friendship with a boy, an “admirer”, passionate about horses, who doesn’t leave me any more. His clear and tanned complexion, his dazzling teeth, his chestnut hair.

    26 July. Hugues A. is dead. He killed himself. Around me (in the stand reserved for riders), people discuss, laugh, and I, holding the newspaper in which I’d just read the news, crushed with stupor and grief. […]

    27 July. […] Stéphane, twelve. Immense doe eyes. Round mouth. H. L., fifteen. A very pretty profile. […]

    His fresh cheek on my bare chest. Moment of perfect happiness. He is the same age as Bernard, and he is my revenge for him. [pp. 23-7]



Monday 17 January. […]

     If I were a woman, I would be a lesbian or lover of little boys. I don’t understand how one can desire this ugly being which is the adult male.

     I see with horror the transformation of my body. Soon I shall have to shave.

    This photo of me in my fourteenth year, in my tennis outfit, beautiful, fresh, golden from the sun, “your long brown legs like a young thoroughbred”, Patrick L. said to me [...].

Botticini. Glorious Madonna. ca. 1485. Louvre
Botticini's Glorious Madonna, ca. 1485

    Botticini’s Glorious Madonna in the Louvre. The angels are young boys, winged pages. The one to the left of Saint Bernard has wonderfully disdainful eyes. He is very beautiful, with his rose-gold complexion and long curls. The little Jesus, on the other hand, is dreadful: a red, upturned nose like a piglet. [p. 34]

    The headmaster of the Lycée d’Auxerre was imprisoned because he indulged in certain acts with pupils aged twelve to fifteen. The headmaster’s name is Amyot. Perhaps he is a descendant of the translator of the amorous exploits of Alkibiades, Epaminondas, Caesar... What a shitty age we live in! [p. 35]

    25th May. Recent works by Mariette Lydis, at the Ambroise Gallery, rue Royale.
    Voluptuous girls with watery, dreamy eyes.
    Young boys with velvet cheeks and curls ad osculum paratae
    Children in the Pampas. I long for this drawing as if it were flesh. My hands tremble, my forehead is covered in sweat. [...]

     I’ve always put an exhausting violence, jealousy and passion into my friendships (at least those tinged with love). Alain P. couldn’t keep up. “Why are you looking at me like that?” he would sometimes ask me in a small voice as I feasted my eyes on him.
    Hugues followed me. But I couldn’t keep him, or rather I let the adults separate us out of weakness and cowardice, and now he’s dead. I feel indirectly responsible for his suicide, because if I’d been with him then, he wouldn’t have killed himself. [p. 36]

    When I was fifteen, I was shocked to read Maurois’s Byron. I found there my passions, my desires, my abysses. The pages on Byron as an adolescent were me, the pages on Byron as an adult I sensed would one day be me. I entered Byron, I read all his books, I identified with him. However strong the literary admirations I may have had after him, they will only be weakened glimmers compared to that first illumination.

    Vichy horse show. The ground is good, the organisation too, but the futility of the show world exasperates me and I can stand it less and less.

     Gérard D. and Christian M., delightful kids, aged ten and twelve. They follow me to the stables, watch me ride, come and sit next to me when I watch the other competitors during the tests, they take me back to my hotel, they never leave me.

    This evening, Christian and Gérard danced a strange ballet for me, something of a bacchanal and a children’s ronde. In the distance, the painted world of grown-ups was stirring, and I was alone in the night with my adorable sylphs. (30th June).

13 at horse show 1955 d5

   A third kid has joined our group, Georges, thirteen years old, fair-skinned, brush-cut hair. I think he’s going to dethrone Gérard in my heart. His power of seduction lies in the mystery of his almond-shaped eyes, his curiously flattened nose, which give him the air of I don't know what young Asiatic god. His mouth is sensual, disturbing. The other two tell me that his father is a brute, a drunkard.

    3rd July. Georges. I take him with me to the riders’ stand. All afternoon he keeps rubbing up against me like an immodest little cat. His need for tenderness. As I hold him close, my arm around his neck, he bends his head, puts his pretty lips on my forearm, licks me gently, all this in the third row of the grandstand, among dozens of people who know me. I’ve never behaved so badly in public in my life, but I don’t care, it’s too pleasant and exciting.
     Tomorrow, Georges leaves for a summer camp, and I won’t be seeing him again. So this evening, after the tests, I’ll meet him at the stables. The grooms will be gone, so no one can surprise us, and the horses won’t be the ones to tell anyone what they’ve seen.

    4th July. Long walk along the Allier with Gérard. We pass through deserted corners, and I could safely try to kiss him, but I don’t try. Not so much out of propriety as because of the memory of Georges, which is still very much with me.

     “Orthodoxy always gives first place, not to theory, but to life.”     (Metropolitan Seraphim.)

    Le Touquet. Special friendships at the swimming pool. Observing two boys of about fifteen, I say to myself that a public bath is the most favourable place in the world for such enterprises, all (or nearly all) happening in the day and under the loving eyes of the parents, mater praecipue [mother especially] as my dear Petronius would say. [pp. 38-40]

The 15th August, […].
     Journey to the Heart of a Child, for the Ballets de l'Étoile. Patrick Belda, thirteen, seems escaped from a drawing by Lydis. His magnificent cat eyes, his fresh chest. [pp. 42-3]



Christianity and pederasty have this in common, that they have both been treated as “practices against nature”. […]

Hitlerjunge q 021.44
The boy in Hitlerjunge Quex discovers the young Hitlerites

    At the film archive on the rue d’Ulm, I saw Steinhoff’s Hitlerjunge Quex. The astonishing scene where the boy wanders away from the vulgar, scruffy communist group and, captivated by the music bathed in a mysterious glow, discovers in the heart of the forest the young Hitlerites, handsome, well-dressed, arranged in a hieratic order, singing a hymn around a campfire.
     The fascist temptation is a pederastic temptation. Fascism could only be dreamt of if fascists were never to live past the age of sixteen. […]

    A woman can only be a lover. A boy of less than sixteen can at the same time be lover and friend. It’s an important point in favour of pederasty. [pp. 48-9]

    Tuesday 5th June. Place de la Sorbonne, I come face to face with Bernard. He has grown, strengthened. He must be about fifteen now, but I recognise him immediately. He gets on his moped. Not without a bit of acrobatics, I manage to follow him by moped to the right bank, rue d’Astorg. There, approaching his machine, which he had parked alongside the pavement, I can check his address and learn his surname, thanks to the owner’s plate.

    Thursday 14th June. I stayed next to Bernard for over fifteen minutes, almost shoulder to shoulder, in the bar on the corner of Rue d’Astorg and Rue Lavoisier. He was with a friend. Listening to them talk, I learned that he was working at Studio A. as an apprentice printer. Although it would have been easy for me, I didn’t make myself known to him. The beauty of our story, its profound meaning, requires that I should never speak to him, that he should never know that I exist, that we should never meet.
    With him gone, I grabbed the straw with which he had drunk his beer and pressed it for a long time against my own lips, knowing how ridiculous, degrading and humiliating my attitude was, and drawing from this ridicule, degradation and humiliation a painful exaltation that almost seemed like happiness. [pp. 51-2]

    In Rue E., young people are chatting in small groups. They are ugly, with Parisian accents and oily hair. Mixed in with them are a lot of ravishing kids. One of them, fourteen at most, was hugging a tall girl, three years his senior, and kissing her full on the lips. [p. 53]

     Monday 9th July. The marvellous beauty of this kid from Rabat, this “cicada”. Thirteen or fourteen. His flesh golden from the sun, his neck fresh and perfumed.

    Cabourg. I fall in love with a girl, Annie S., older than me, she must be at least twenty-one, a tennis champion. She is brunette, has beautiful black eyes, wonderful skin and very nice breasts, but she doesn’t pay me the slightest attention. I’m happier with a little groom boy, blond, fifteen years old, but I think I would have preferred the girl.
     Will I ever be able to be constant? Will I ever be able to settle down? When a pretty face passes by, my heart catches fire like oakum. I'm something of a universal lover. [pp. 56-7]

13 in haystack 1955 d3 U

    13th July. Ouistreham horse show. J.P., almost thirteen. His blond hair; the warmth of his body; the softness of his skin.
     I lost my beautiful pen in the hay.

    Haunting of friendship-passion. Alas! for the last three years, I’ve been doomed to fleeting encounters, fleeting embraces, kisses with no tomorrow. I thirst for true love. [p. 58]

     According to the newspapers, a young man of Russian origin, Alexandre N., was almost lynched by the inhabitants of Grasse for raping an eleven-year-old boy. Love is definitely a difficult thing. [p. 59]

    Bernard was born in December 1940. He was thus twelve when I met him for the first time. Four years younger than me (11th September) [...].

     His father sells salads at the rue Poncelet market. O charming blond head! his worried yet gentle eye; his grace which contrasts with the surrounding coarseness; the red scarf around his swan’s neck.

    Louvre. Seriously in love with this bust of a young Roman boy. Every time I go to see it, I find new attractions. But more than his beauty, even more than his resemblance to Georges (of Vichy), it's the sadness of his face that captivates me: all the sadness of ancient Rome on that little marble face. [pp. 60-1]]

    In Corydon, Gide denied the existence of an instinct that precipitates one sex towards the other. Myself, I believe that such an instinct exists, for otherwise women would not feel any attraction for those ugly beings (hairy, smelling of tobacco, paunchy, pouah!) that adult males are. If the Genius of the Species (as Schopenhauer would say) didn’t exist, all women would be lesbians or lovers of adolescents.

    Title of novel: The Lesbian and the Pederast. [p. 63]



    Alain Dammann lends me Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. The story of an old writer who falls in love with a fourteen-year-old boy “of truly divine beauty” captivates me, and this oppressive, fatal Venice...
    Tadzio and Aschenbach, who will never meet or speak to each other, are they not Bernard and me? Perhaps that is why I am so upset by this story. [pp. 68-9]

     I caught a glimpse of Bernard in the rue d’Astorg. I tried to follow him, but he had disappeared into the department store at the corner of Place Saint-Augustin (11th March) [...].
    This young boy with the face of a Madonna, crossed rue Campagne-Première. Dammann, who is accompanying me, is - though in no way a pedophile - gripped like me. The silence of the guests before the beauty of Autolykos in The Banquet. [p. 70]

     13 April. Exhibition of Persian art at the Guimet Museum. […]
     No. 33. Dervish admiring a young page (second half of the 16th century). In the eyes of the old man, tenderness and desire; in the boy’s eyes, malice and consent. [p. 71]


Montherlant Henry de ca. 1958
Henry de Montherlant, 1958

    8th June. Montherlant[3], to whom I sent some notes on the place held by the ancients in his work, writes to me: “I am so surprised to find so much judgement towards me and so much love in common for the res romana in a young man, that I would gladly make your acquaintance.”

     What a joy to read this letter! Nietzsche never consoled himself for not having been able to meet Schopenhauer - who died before he discovered his work. I, on the other hand, am going to meet Montherlant, who is amongst the living, the writer to whom I feel myself the closest. […]

    Michel, thirteen years old. His stupid mother. But what can I say, I have to take my chances. I'm used to it.
     Rule number one: put his mother’s distrust to rest; win her over.
     I play marbles with Michel. I don't defend myself too badly. [...]

    Wednesday 19th June. At Montherlant’s, quai Voltaire. He’s just as I’d imagined him, only more compact. He gives the impression of watching what he says, of refusing improvisation. He doesn’t let words go on an adventure. Everything is studied.[4] [pp. 73-5]

Matzneff has been staying in the alpine village of Laffrey in the Dauphiné for several days:

    M. S., 12 years old. I meet him on the mountain while he tends his cows and goats. He is charming, so fresh, so spontaneous. We hit it off immediately.
    He tells me proudly: “You know, in October I will start at the Collège de Vizille. And I’ll do Latin!”
    M., ten years old, lying on the pontoon by the lake, droplets of water glistening on his golden chest. Love is a naked child.
    His fresh cheek on my belly. His burning mouth. [pp. 77-8]

    Family life, the prelude to gentrification, the leaden arse.

   Mothers, a suspicious and naïve race at the same time; always on the alert and always fooled.

     In the life of a young boy, the pedophile must be the awakener, the one who opens the eyes and breaks the chains. The liberator.

    In Athens, a child who has an amorous relationship with a pederast is exempt from all the obligations that children usually have towards their parents. There are no longer any duties of aid or assistance for him, nor any maintenance obligations - he is barely bound by the duty of burial and funeral honours (Cf. Daremberg and Saglio, article Etaïrésséos ouraphé).

    An archetype of maternal blindness, Thetis, the prophetess divinity, does not know why her son is suffering. (Iliad, XVIII.) […]

     The best service we render to adolescents: to detach them from their parents, to emancipate them. [pp. 82-3]



Picot Francois Edouard. Cupid and Psyche
François-Édouard Picot's Love and Psyche, 1817

    5th February. At the Louvre. When I was thirteen, my favourite painting was Picot’s Love and Psyche: those graceful forms, that naked flesh, that diffuse sensuality thrilled me, fed my imagination; they were what I had to conquer. Even today, when that conquest is behind me, that painting never fails to move and charm me. [p. 88]

Matzneff is again staying at an inn in the alpine village of Laffrey in the Dauphiné, this time for the first fortnight of April:

    3rd April. Last night I dreamt of Bernard with extraordinary precision. [...]

     Georges, fourteen, and P., fifteen, tell me about their exploits with their good friends (as one says in the Dauphiné). The good friends in question were aged between eight and thirteen.

    10 April. A divine day in the company of Gérard B., a delightful boy of ten.
    Country kids, more mischievous and precocious than many little city-dwellers.
    The rabbit hunt in the snow is grandiose, worthy of The War of the Buttons.  
    M. S. - despite the isolation of his snow-covered farm - comes to visit me at the inn. A day spent in my bedroom. [p. 94}

    Sunday 13th April, 6.45 pm. Riding away on the pillion seat of his elder brother’s motorbike, Gérard bids me a final farewell with his hand. My heart is heavy. I’d grown attached to this kid. His mixed brutality and delicacy, his grey-green eyes, his brown hair, his good smell, the softness of his skin, I love everything about him.

    15th April. Paris. Horrible. I am separated from Gérard, and harassed by people I don’t like, by false duties. [p. 95]

Matzneff was in Paris for all the following excerpts down to the beginning of July:

24 April. I take Michel W., thirteen, to the Médrano circus. Deception: what is a circus without lions, without tigers, without bears?
     Michel has a princely surname, but his family is unrelated to the princes of the same name. However, and this is much more important, he is my little prince. [p. 97]

    Thursday 22nd May, 12.30 pm., in the metro. I've just missed an opportunity for happiness. Why did I pretend not to notice, not to understand, this kid smiling at me, consenting in advance to my desires? Why this paralysis, this sudden fear of living?

14 in tennis club Paris 1955 d2 U 

     22 May, evening. This afternoon, at the Luxembourg Tennis Club, my meeting with Gérard L.
    Divinely beautiful, a pupil at Montaigne (third year B), a scout at Saint-Sulpice, fourteen years old.
     He promises me we’ll meet again tomorrow.
    23 May. I prowled all afternoon in the Luxembourg, rue H. (where he lives), in vain. G. L. remains invisible. Why this failure? Why this discontinuity? It’s exhausting. In those awful minutes, with a knot of unfulfilled desires in the hollow of my chest, how I understand the condemnation of the passions by the Stoics, by the Buddhists! For the man subjected to passions, there is no freedom or tranquillity, only a flaming straitjacket.
    And yet, what have I to do with tranquillity, with ataraxia? Such is not my lot, such is not my destiny.

    Those who escape the constraints of society must, more than anyone else, submit to a strict rule of life, obeying what Marcus Aurelius calls “the inner master”. Otherwise, he is lost. [...]
    I am looking in vain for a French translation of Athenaios. I have to make do with a Latin translation, which helps me to understand the squat Greek original.
     “Puerorum amore ad insaniam etiam ardebat rex Alexander. [King Alexander burnt madly with love of boys]” (Athenaios, Deipnosophistai, XIII, 80.) [...]

    He looks very sweet in his Russian scout uniform. His velvety thighs, his warm mouth. My lips buried in his hair, on the nape of his neck.

     Thursday.  The waiting began again, in vain of course. I’m ridiculous, I know, but what can I do? Drawn to these places like a needle to a magnet.

    When a high-pitched voice in the Parc Monceau is heard shouting: “Who's getting laid!”, it’s not a toddler asking to be sodomised, but a Mickey Mouse or Hopalong Cassidy reader swapping his illustrated books for marbles.
    I’d quite like to be a schoolmaster, but in a school like that of the admirable Rodin, in Justine. [...]
     I don’t ask him to love me; I don’t even ask him to be worthy of being loved: I only beg him to let himself be loved. [pp. 101-3]

    29th June. At the pool, this fresh young boy kissed and caressed in my cabin. Drops of water on his face and chest that I dry with my mouth. The warmth, the softness of his skin. Unforgettable minutes. Then he leaves me. As I get dressed, my legs wobble, from happiness and also from retrospective fear. [p. 108]

Matzneff was again staying in the alpine village of Laffrey, this time for three weeks down to 22 July:

    My love for him makes me put up with his parents’ folly. That’s a high price to pay for pleasure. (But no, no, it’s not expensive! Such pleasure is drinkable gold, it’s priceless).
    They think I’m like them because, like them, I have a head, a body, two arms and two legs. But that’s where the resemblance ends, poor apples!

    Living for three weeks with middle-class people (an engineer and a butcher) is a tough experience! Fortunately, they have children.

11 by lake 1958 d5 dtl

    14 July. A small naked body, caressed, kissed, possessed. And the fear of being caught, the spectre of scandal. What intoxication!

     Seeing M. chatting to this bloke really gets on my nerves. I immediately imagine a rival, I tremble at the thought of being supplanted.
    M. having irritated me, I shunned him, preferring to deprive myself of his presence for a whole day so as not to show my displeasure. To sully an eleven-year-old! I’m mad! [p. 111]

    22 July. I leave him without having been able to kiss him a last time, due to his mother planted between us. I am horribly sad.

    One doesn’t pray against love. [p. 112]

Matzneff is back in Paris for the entries of 20 August and 3 September:

     20 August. A letter from M.! Enclosed in it is a photo of him (taken by a little chum in the camp?) I reply by return of post. [p. 115]

    Four hours with Montherlant. He asks me: “Do you know why we no longer read Gide?”

     I confess my ignorance. He continues:
     “Because he wore extravagant hats (sic) and talked too much about little boys. It’s not serious, it’s annoying. A writer should never admit to being a pederast: it keeps women away from him and, remember, it’s women who read, it’s women who form opinion.”
     He also tells me: “All educators are pederasts. That’s what nobody dares say.”
     Me: “Why don’t you write it down?”
     He laughs, without answering. [p. 117]

Foncine. Relais de la Chance au Roy ill. Joubert

    3rd September. I get to know Jean-Louis Foncine[5], to whom I immediately express my admiration for the Relais de la Chance au Roy. We talk about the nostalgia for adolescent chivalry that plays such a large part in his books.
    “I’m fighting the termite mound with all my might,” he tells me, “and because I believe that a group can resist it more effectively than a single man, I try to form groups, to spark dreams in boys’ souls. That’s why I often use fascist language. The misfortune of fascism is that it has been in the hands of the simple-minded and madmen who have discredited it.”
    He also says to me: “If there is no poetry in the heart of a boy of thirteen, where would it be?” [p. 118]

Matzneff again seems to be visiting Laffrey:

    T., 10th September. I have crossed France to join M., I can make another effort and support his family.
     His father tells me about Paris, where he has been several times. I ask him what he liked best about the city: “The Renault factories”, he replies.
     “Your little brother”, says a shopkeeper, referring to M. I contradict him.  “But you do look alike.” [...]

     15th September. I’m getting ready to leave the coast, despite the presence of M. Why this eternal restlessness? [p. 120]

Apparently at Dole on 16 September:

    As I passed two lads in the street near the Arc junior secondary school, one said to the other: “But you’re not part of the gang...”. This sentence hit me as if it were intended for me. [p. 121]

    The several voluptuous days lived at T. three weeks ago have no more reality for me at present than if I had read the description of them in a novel. Did that really exist? […]

     The women’s weekly Elle (no. 665, 22nd September 58) published this letter from a reader in its “letter from the heart” section:
    “I’m eighteen. For two months I’ve been madly in love with a boy who’s five years younger than me. He thinks of me as a sister, but that’s not enough for me. What can I do to win his love?” Signed: Madeleine.
    The newspaper’s reply was insignificant: above all, don’t disturb this thirteen-year-old boy! Yet what a beautiful and important letter! I am convinced that young women in love with boys under sixteen are infinitely more numerous than one might suspect: it is at this age that a boy is desirable, whereas an adult male, all hairy, is repulsive. But since this admission of love for prepubescent boys is absolutely forbidden in our society, it is destined to remain repressed, crushed and denied for a long time to come. [pp. 123-4]

     The scouts’ shop on G. Street is the meeting-place of all of Paris’s pedophiles. The photo section, above all, is successful. [p. 127]

      This genius which women have for feigning interest in what interests the men they like. Young boys don’t have this skill (which is in fact a blunder). They have others. [p. 128]

     21 December. […]

     Michel W. is thirteen. He is incapable of being punctual for a rendez-vous. [pp. 129-30]

For the last few days of 1958, Matzneff was in Alpes-Maritimes:

     26 December. […]

     Eze. Admirable eagle’s nest perched on a rock of a nobility and extreme wildness. I imagine this place emptied of its bourgeois, peopled only by children and adolescents. What festivals we would celebrate there! [p. 132]

     30 December, […]

    Twelve years old. His pale little face and the long blue vein which runs the length of his cheek. [p. 133]



Matzneff appears to have been in Paris for the following entries of February to early March:

    30th January. […]
    Under Augustus, Roman law punished with death anyone who seduced a young free-born boy, and anyone who lent his house for this stuprum incurred the same penalty.

     Children are made to be loved, and when one loves someone, one sleep with him.

    Underneath my lazy exterior, I have a solid reserve of energy and vitality. Only, I apply this energy and vitality to forbidden, clandestine fields. So, it doesn’t show.

    The terrifying thing about kids is that as soon as something goes wrong, they confess everything.

     If things start to go wrong, there’s always a way out: rescind my suspended sentence and leave for the army (5th February).

Foncine Le glaive de Cologne ill. Joubert
One of Foncine's books illustrated by Pierre Joubert (1910-2002), probably the best known illustrator ever of those who concentrated on pubescent boys

    Foncine tells me about Joubert’s drawings and the complaints of sensuality levelled at them by the self-righteous: “Obviously, they have a sensual side, but it’s life that’s sensual. Of a beautiful twelve-thirteen-year-old walking down the street, one might as well say that he is a walking sin.”

     The affair of the blue ballets of La Chapelle-Saint-André[6] is bad for everyone, even for those who, like me, are not in any way implicated. If only because it risks being the pretext for increased vigilance by the police, for more rigorous justice. [pp. 140-2]

     18 February. […]

     Michel, so beautiful at twelve, I find him at fourteen already thickened, become ugly. [p. 143]

     (10 March) […] Don’t tell me that children love their parents: I shall not believe you. At best, the family is boredom, at worst it’s hell.
     A recent survey of children’s literature reveals that the favourite heros of the majority of boys are those without family (Prince Eric, Tintin) who have friends but no parents. This is clear: bound by the inept adult society which incarnates his family, the adolescent attributes to the heros of his choice the free and adventurous life he dreams of. [pp. 144-5]


Readers wishing to read Matzneff's journals in chronological order should here continue to Matzneff in Algeria, 1959-64


Matzneff does not say where the following took place. It may have been Toulon, as he had just returned by sea from Algeria, and it was not far from Laffrey, where he had previously visited M.

12 w. ice cream 1960 d1

     T., 9th April. I’m delighted to see M. again. At twelve, he’s more charming than ever. [pp. 149-51]

Matzneff was apparently in Paris from 11 April to 18 May:

     17 April […]
     If I had the necessary money for travel, I could be with Braham[7] in six hours, four hours by plane and two by car. [pp. 153-4]

     18 May. I have kept my word: me here at Orly, ready to fly away to Braham. […]


Readers wishing to read Matzneff’s journals in chronological order should at this point return to Matzneff in Algeria, 1959-64.


From 3 June to 9 September 1959 Matzneff was back in France:

    Michel W., who was so handsome at twelve, and become so ugly at fourteen, rediscovered a new grace in his sixteenth year: it was no longer the freshness of the prepubescent child, but the slightly troubled charm of the adolescent.

    It’s not enough to accept necessity, you have to love it too. [...]

     Does a boy put up with a lover’s jealousy, bad temper and despotism better than a woman? That’s not certain.

    14th June. With Claude, who is the same age as the film’s hero, I saw Truffaut’s film The 400 Blows again (which I had first seen with Michel W.). I’m strengthened in my feeling that, along with Rosselini’s Germany Year Zero and Franco Rossi's Friends for Life, this is one of the best films ever made about adolescence. I’d already really liked Truffaut’s short film, Les Mistons, in which he sailed in the same waters. [p. 160]

    I dream, I don’t know why, of the summer of 52: that young boy I saw at the cinema in Cabourg, and whom I had passionately tried to see again... That was a year before Bernard.

     Claude. His silky neck, his delicious shoulders... (Thursday 18th June)

     23 June. […]

     Patrick, aged fourteen. I ask him, “What is there better than the sun?” Opening his big eyes, he answers me, half-serious, half-mocking, “Love!” [pp. 161-2]

Matzneff was yet again staying in Laffrey:

    André B., a thirteen-year-old faun with slit eyes and an oblique smile.

Isere. Laffrey by Paul Berthier
                                                                           Laffrey by Paul Berthier

    The hotelier says of me to anyone who will listen: “He loves children, he’s always surrounded by them.”
     In fact, in this mountain village, escorted by this band of little girls and young boys who adore me and never leave my side, on the shore of this peaceful lake I feel myself very prince Myshkin.[8] [pp. 163-4]

8 September. At Toulon, I am always struck by the health, the beauty of adolescents. This morning, at the beach of Mourillon, this group of girls and boys aged ten to sixteen, the least of them pretty enough to damn a saint. Race of the sun. [p. 168]


Readers wishing to read Matzneff’s journals in chronological order should at this point return to Matzneff in Algeria, 1959-64.


From 21 October 1959 to 26 January 1961 (except for a few days of September 1960) Matzneff was apparently in France:

    The need to pour out one’s heart, to recount one’s love affairs, one’s setbacks and successes, is typically pederastic. When I’m with pederasts (by which I mean lovers of young boys, and not homosexuals), that is pretty much all we talk about. My heterosexual or inverted friends are much more reserved, and so am I with them.

Dalens Serge. La Tache de Vin ill. Joubert 1945
An adventure story by Serge Dalens, ilustrated by Pierre Joubert

   Dalens[9] once said to Jean-Claude Alain[10]: “Do you know how to recognise a pederast? By the look in his eyes.”
     And it’s true: the look filtering under the drooping eyelid, the sharp, yet furtive glance... The extreme tension that wants to pass for casualness. Above all, don’t look like what one is.

     I went to Vanves to see Alain’s family.[11] His sisters are still a bit young, but his little brother, aged ten, is charming.  

    28th October. With Montherlant, from 6 to 11 pm. A long evening, and a long conversation, mainly about our respective experiences of North Africa. Montherlant also talks to me [...].
     We talk about kids. I’m surprised that there aren’t more women who are pederasts, women who are sensitive to the charms of young boys. He tells me that he knew a fourteen-year-old boy who had been groped by a woman while queuing at the cinema, and he advises me to read Hecate and Her Dogs by Paul Morand. [pp. 180-1]

On 6 November, Matzneff began his two years of military service.

    Letter from M. He is happy to have been passed into the third year, he is first in maths and on Sunday he’s going to gather mushrooms with his father. “It’s a good entertainment,” he explains to me. [p. 185]

     7 December. […]

I have fun imagining that I’m in the ACER[12] camp or with the scouts. Where the illusion disappears is that my mates are really not fuckable, they’re at least five years too old. The only one who’s cute, and luckily his bed is right opposite mine, is B. He’s twenty, but as blond boys often do, he looks only sixteen, hardly seventeen. Although I have no experience of what it’s like to have sex with a boy of that age, and I’m the complete opposite of his tastes, I think that with him... [pp. 186-7]



    [January] Alain’s father writes to me: “I do not have the freedom you have to rub shoulders with all the little yaouleds[13] of Cherchell”, and to complain about the constraints of his magistery.
     I am convinced that he is aware of the nature of my feelings for his son. If he closes his eyes, it’s because he understands the good that the friendship of an elder like me can do for a boy of fifteen. [...]

    Does B. know of my sympathy for him? I don’t know. Sometimes I swear he’s intimidated by me, that he doesn’t feel at one with me. And yet... [p. 194]

    [7 March] I receive a postcard from M. who has just reached thirteen. A few words only, but which revive my tenderness. The card shows the Place de la Liberté at T.

    B. tells me: “[…] Apart from some special friendships, friendship doesn’t exist.”

     Charming declaration! But I’d like it if he were precise as to what he means by “special friendships”. [pp. 199-200]

    31 March. […]
     B. always charming and remote. I have nicknamed him “the indifferent beauty”. [pp. 202-4]

    That silly song, cut from the Café de France in Cherchell, which every time I hear it reminds me of Braham: “What an obsession, what my passion... all the love I have for you...” [p. 208]

    [209] 29th May. I take Michel W. to the Coq d’Or, the Russian restaurant in the rue Malebranche that Saint Robert introduced me to. I explain to him that if he were a girl, the violinists would come and play languorous tunes right under our noses. So he says mischievously, “Maybe you should tell them I’m your boyfriend?”
    He’s fifteen and, over dinner, talks at length about a girl he’s in love with. It’s the natural order of things. It is all very well. [p. 209]

12 at slot machine 1960 d3

    Around two o’clock I go to the Invalides fair. Very quickly, at the slot machines, I pick up a young boy, elegantly dressed, with fine features. He is thirteen years old, called Dominique, and is in fifth form at the Lycée Buffon. We browse the various stalls, have a good time, and then I take him to the cinema. I guess he’s available, willing and ready for lots of things. He has to go home: his parents are waiting for him. As a civilian, I would have arranged to meet him the next day: it would have been the start of an adventure, or even of a lasting love affair. But as a soldier, stuck far from Paris in my stinking barracks, what could I do? I have to limit myself to taking his telephone number and promising to wait for him one day at his school closing time, knowing that I certainly won’t have the spare time. It’s hard.

    14 June. Does B. understand that the only reason I went to Paris last night, even though I was tired and wanted to go to bed early, was to take the train with him alone? No, he does not even suspect it. [pp. 210-1]

     “Your special friend”, his mother said, referring to him[14] in a gentle, non-aggressive way. What exactly does she know [...]?

    26th June, six o’clock in the evening. On the 92 bus, this pretty little scout had no idea he was in good company: opposite him was Roger Peyrefitte,[15] and to his left was Gabriel Matzneff. I almost spoke to Roger Peyrefitte, but shyness prevented me. I didn’t talk to the kid either (and neither did Peyrefitte).

    On his return from the camp at La Courtine, B. said to me: “I thought about you from time to time, but I wasn’t bored enough to write to you.”
     All my sulky resolutions melt away as soon as I see him. We spend the evening together. I am once again under the spell of his eyes and his smile. It’s absurd, because I'm absolutely not homosexual, but what can I do? Is it my fault if he looks not like a soldier but like a kid drawn by Joubert?[16]

    The astonishing ease with which he does without me.
     When I’m there, he seems happy to have me there, but if I leave, he doesn’t make a move, he doesn’t say a word to stop me. Me or another... [...]

     5th July. A happy evening at last! B. sings me his songs and I read him my poems from Algeria.
     That said, were it not for the incredible idleness of this garrison life, my relationship with B. would certainly not occupy my mind as it does.

    At the stadium, when he comes and lies down near me and puts his head on my leg, my heart tingles. “He loves me a little!” But when, twenty minutes later, I see him approach, fix his beautiful absent gaze on me, turn his back on me and go and sit on the fence next to D...

    Is it out of cowardice that he insists on being “nice to everyone” or out of indifference? [...]

     I think I’d be a bit disappointed if this crisis surrounding B. were to be resolved in a trivial, undramatic way. I’m expecting something serious. Exactly what, I don’t know. But I’m waiting for it.

    One last chord and the song is over. He bows his head and smiles at me, his charming young faun smile. We leave the room where the others are sprawled out. We go out onto the balcony. The warm night falls silently. With our heads thrown back and our feet against the balustrade, we watch the barracks sleeping like a big cat in a circle. I furtively observe my companion’s pure profile, his blond hair with its moonlight glints, his golden cheek, his childlike mouth. He is twenty and looks sixteen. We are talking. About what? About the only thing that matters in this world and in others: love (8th July).

    I’ve often written that I had a taste for disaster. Well, I'm in for a treat! (10 July)

     “Don’t worry, I don’t find everyone nice, there are some guys I can’t stand,” he says. This sentence is probably the most I can get out of him in a tender way.

     When I ask him what studies his sister, who is sixteen, is pursuing, he scoffs: “What is it to you?”

     Everything that touches him means a lot to me, but if he doesn’t feel it, what’s the point of explaining it to him? (11th July.)

    He’s standing in front of me like Sinclair standing in front of Demian (in Hermann Hesse), except that Sinclair loves Demian.

     In civilian clothes, he looks even more like a kid than in military clothes. In his little first communion suit, he looks fourteen. [pp. 212-5]

Montherlant Henry de. 1960
Henry de Montherlant in 1960

     30 July. Evening with Montherlant. […]
     At the restaurant, I tell him some new details about the blue ballets of La Chapelle Saint-André, that I have just learned. Suddenly he interrupts me in the middle of a sentence, brutally, by hitting me on the forearm (we are dining side by side, sitting on a bench) and whispering in an oppressed voice: “Shut up! The bloke who’s dining alone at the table on the right, he’s listening to us! I know him, he’s a Gallimard man,[17] he hates me! Tell me about Plutarch!”  I was so taken aback that no matter how hard I pressed the Plutarch button, I could hardly get a sentence out. [pp. 218-9]

    Tear this shameful passion from my heart before it is too late.

    Leave for North Africa and get killed.

    Saturday 7th August. B. comes to stay with me for the first time (we’re on leave). He records several songs on the tape recorder.

    9th August. He tells me that last night he came back to my place, rang the bell for a long time and knocked on the door. But my room is far from the entrance and I was in such a deep sleep that I didn’t hear him.

    So as not to appear to be chasing after him, I avoid him, waiting for him to approach me first.

    Love isn’t the smiling pink child in the pictures, it’s an adolescent with fever-sunken eyes, a dry mouth and a burning chest...

    In his room, in bed, his torso emerging from the sheets, he's reading Sentimental Education, which I lent him. I’m sitting on the windowsill (fifty centimetres separating us), scribbling this in my notebook. He has no idea that right now I’m writing about him. He never suspects anything.

    His beautiful, sulky child’s face, his stubborn forehead, full of thoughts where I am not.

    Maybe he’s afraid of me? I think of what Jean-Claude Alain used to say to me: “You’re not a reassuring figure.”
    By “afraid”, I mean a certain reticence, a kind of apprehension. Who could blame him? [p. 220]

    Letter from Alain announcing his return from Cherchell. If my leave is not deceptively sweet, if I am not on call, I shall see him again on Saturday.

     B. shows me the passage in which Frédéric Moreau, back in Paris, is disappointed by Madame Arnoux’s welcome and resolves to be selfish.

     I reply that this proves that he still loves her. One is not disappointed by those who are indifferent. One only sulks at the beloved.

    12th August. Evidently, he didn’t remember my birthday. [p. 221]

    13th August. Refreshing, lovely reunion with Alain. We spent the afternoon at my place, then went shopping, and afterwards I took him to dinner at the Coq d’Or.
     He’s still as beautiful as ever, even more so with his locks that have been bleached by the sun and the sea. And as cheerful and full of life as ever. His tenderness with me.
     Late in the afternoon, I drive him back to Vanves. The night is cool, I put my arm around his neck and, as we walk, I keep kissing him lightly on the temple, on the cheek, in the hollow of the ear.
     In two months, he’ll be sixteen.

    14th August. Alain again, first at Deligny,[18] then at my place. He leaves me at the end of the afternoon. Bernard takes over. We go to see Les Visiteurs du soir, which he didn’t know about. As we leave, I say to him: “You see, if the devil is evil, it’s because he’s not loved.”
    B. sleeps at my place (but not with me!). [p. 222]

17 cadet 1960 d3

     The day he leaves for Antibes. For the first time since we met, he hails me in the barracks yard and calls me by my first name (19th August).

     I love everything that comes from him, even the bad. [p. 224]

     21 August. […] Again with Alain, at Deligny.

    Presence kindles love. Absence extinguishes it.

     29th August. B. is a passion I have invented for myself, fabricated from scratch. It rests on nothing. A love to kill time.

    (Although last night I got back early from leave, so as not to miss his return from Antibes. He only came back this morning, tanned and in great shape).

     Apart from his pretty face, what does he have to hold me back?

     I don’t understand the importance he attaches to people’s opinion of him, his concern to be on good terms with people, his desire to find everyone sympathetic... This need for universal approval is so contrary to me... As for me, it’s rather to irritate, to displease, that I apply myself, sometimes maliciously, sometimes bitterly. [p. 225]

    Back in France, I had dinner last night with Montherlant. We parted late. Long conversation about Algeria, boys, contemporary society, the Romans. Montherlant told me some anecdotes about his private life, about picking up young boys before the war, which he said was so much easier than it is today (in Paris). “I used to be a pederast, but I’m not any more,” he affirms. [p. 229]

    6th October. B.’s childish, charming way of patting me on the back of the neck with the flat of his hand and pushing my cap over the front of my head so that it falls into my eyes.
     I often bore him with my impossible stories, but in the end he listens to me. I love him for that too: because with him I have someone to talk to. [...]

    I write to Alain: “As soon as I get back from manoeuvres, I’ll come to Vanves to contemplate your graceful face. Sixteen years old! I knew you in shorts, and here’s the beard you’ll soon be growing."
     Sixteen, the fateful moment. The Rubicon. The border of the kingdom of tender friendship, the steps of that of chaste friendship.

    8th October. This morning I see him emerge from the woods. “You’re not at the café?”
    “No,” he replies, “I was looking for you.”
     And this evening, when I’d been out for a few minutes, “Where’ve you been?”
     Would he care about me too? […]

     Saturday 15th. […]
     Grand explanation. Better still, it is the Explanation. We will never go any further.
     B.: “Our situation is absurd, intolerable... besides, it’s my fault... For five months we’ve been talking to each other in a roundabout, obscure way...”
    Me: “I didn’t feel I had the right to do something irreparable...” [...]

     Sunday 16th. Lying on his bed, I smoke as I watch him. He’s taking apart some sort of defused shell. I’d like to sleep for a long time, to lose the awareness that I exist. I’d like to stop suffering. [pp. 231-2]

13s in brasserie 1960 d1

    Pontoise. At the Brasserie de l’Arrivée, sitting at the table next to ours, those young schoolboys from Saint-Martin, sons of families with neat clothes and fine, graceful faces. I was like them once. Today, I belong to the rustic and coarse world of the barracks. A different world.

    Pederasts undress boys like heteros undress women, but both are not satisfied for long with these epidermal contacts; both dream of meeting someone who really loves them. [...]
     Tuesday 8th. Horrible argument with B. What a disappointment! Is he just a dried fruit, a petty bourgeois? And I thought I’d read the “sign” on his forehead that Hesse talks about in Demian! Was that just a pipe dream?

    Thursday 10th. Last night he made a false exit, and when he suddenly returned to his room he caught me fiddling with his razor. He took it off my hands with a rather affectionate “Come on, give it to me”. But does he think I’m capable of suicide? And would such a gesture finally bring him out of his exasperating, exhausting placidity?
     To kill me would be to punish him. And yet, if I don’t kill myself, it’s precisely because he would think it was because of him. But he wouldn’t have much to do with it. He’s just the last straw. It’s all so complicated... [pp. 234-6]

This is the last entry of Greek love interest in the journal for 1960. The first for 1961 is to be found in Matzneff in Algeria, 1959-64, to which readers wishing to read Matzneff's journals in chronological order should turn.




    Saturday 4th [February]. I leave Alain,[19] who is returning to Paris, to find a few hours later, at T., little M.   “The little one? It is seventeen months since I last saw him. He’s thirteen and a half, and now an adolescent with the look of a fawn. He does judo and football.

    Monday the 6th. M. has left for school. I’m alone in his bedroom. I’m working at his child’s desk, among his textbooks and his scoubidous. In one of the frames he smiles at me in his First Communion habit. Piled up at the foot of his bed are illustrated magazines, Kit Karson, Buck John, Olliver, Totem.

    Monday, 4.30 pm., back from school. I kiss the back of his neck, his shoulders, his chest. Fresh, satiny skin.

13 walking to school 1960 d1

     Tuesday 7th. This morning, around 6 am., I was woken by a warm breath on my face. It was M. who had crawled into my bed set up in the sitting room.
     After breakfast, I accompanied M. to school. The weather was fine, the mistral, which had been blowing for several days, had calmed down, the sun was caressing us, and we were moving forward in the promise of the morning, happy, light, wonderfully alive.

    M.’s father, who is something like an engineer, spends his evenings in front of the television. But as soon as there’s a programme a little less silly than usual (Tuesday: Corneille; today: Mme. de Sévigné), he turns it off.
     His mother, for her part, suffers to see her son slipping away from her. This afternoon, she sighed: “Two years ago, when he’d done something stupid, he’d come and give me a hug, kiss me, ask forgiveness... But now... “(Thursday 9th.)

    Sunday 12th. At dawn this morning, Michel joined me in bed again. His legs entwined with mine, his feet cold on mine, the warmth of his body pressed against mine. Suddenly, his mother opened the door and crossed the living room to go to the loo. “Bloody hell, she frightened me,” he says as he jumps off my bed. He goes into his parents’ bedroom, chats with them for a while, and comes back to curl up against me. “I tricked them,” he whispers to me. [pp. 246-7]

    [19th February] This kid walking down the street, adorned with the radiance of his thirteen years, the fleeting splendour of his adolescence, how is it possible that no one turns around to look at him, that no one notices him, that none of these many passers-by is aware of his extraordinary beauty? Am I the abnormal one, the twisted one, or are they the blind ones? Why is the beauty of a pretty girl recognised by all, obvious to all, but not that of an adolescent boy? Why this boundary? Why these double standards? (Noted at Marseille, before taking the aeroplane for Paris.) [pp. 250-1]

    Tuesday 28th, in the evening. I see B.[20] again. He is still charming, and even looks younger: one would think him fourteen! But my act of 21 November destroyed the enchantment. Something is broken that nothing or no-one can put back together. B. has become harmless. He no longer has the power to make me suffer.
     I’m still very kind to him, very friendly. Why shouldn’t I be? In this story, I’m the only guilty party. [...]

    3rd March. […] At Saint-Lazare station, the ticket puncher pretends to punch my ticket, gives it back to me intact, and whispers: “Go on!”
     Maybe she has a son in the army. I am so surprised that I do not think of saying thank you.[p. 252]

     Thursday 9th. […]   

     Afternoon with Alain. Tomorrow I see Michel W. again. [p. 253]

    26 March. at the Trône fair, with Alan. My hand on his shoulder, we make our way through the dense crowd, colourful, joyful. I feel myself fully happy.[21] [p. 254]

    Tuesday 26th April. […]

On his conversation with his much older friend, the eminent boysexual writer Henry de Montherlant in a restaurant in the evening:

He also tells me about pederasts: “Pederasts,” he tells me, “are like collaborators: they want to annex me at any price, to compromise me. Some would like me to spend my time publishing that I like boys, and others reproach me for not having been shot at the Liberation: all of them would only appreciate me as a martyr to the cause. [p. 256]

13 holding lantern 1960 d3

     25th June. […]

     Gérard G., thirteen, blue-green eyes, the mouth of a connoisseur of food, high, prominent cheekbones, chestnut-blond hair, he looks like the boy I was at his age. For two days we were together. When we parted, he made me swear to come back on Tuesday. Alain, who was with me but who is not naturally jealous, did not make a bad impression on my new friend. We took part in the Saint John’s Day torchlight retreat, but in the evening it was impossible to find a room as all the hotels were fully booked. In the end, Alain and I squeezed into a bed whose cramped conditions, combined with our sunburns, meant that we hardly slept at all. [...]

    March 27th. Spent the whole day at Esbly, with little  G. There’s no doubt about it, I’m in love, and it’s mutual. What a pity he’s leaving on Saturday for Lavandou!
     His fresh chest under the black jumper, with its wide slit. [pp. 255-9]

     Last day in Franche-Comté. On the road we were surprised by a terrible storm. We arrived in Dole soaked to the skin. These two dripping, ultra-tanned boys, looking almost naked in their shorts and shirts that clung to their skin, made a sensational entrance into the restaurant dining room. […]

    For a man like me, devoting the best part of his time to his love life isn’t a waste of time; on the contrary, it’s time well spent; but how many hours are wasted on waiting, travelling and foolish distractions - whether it’s with girls you have to “take out” or with little boys, those indefatigable quicksilver beings whom it is necessary to amuse without stop. [pp. 263-4]



    29th March. At the Struve house[22], met Micha C., a charming sixteen-year-old blond boy, who has the voice of an angel and knows all the lines of the Paris metro by heart, reciting the stations in order. I’ve invited him to my place next Wednesday. He’s accepted. What does that mean? Nothing, I think. He looks so innocent! [p. 291]

     1st April. Alain and me, we’re going on a big hike in the countryside. Why should I be ashamed of my Boy Scout side? Perhaps it’s to it that I owe my clearest, most obvious joys.

     4th April. Micha. Another Michel! It’s definitely a good name for me! He seems very attached to me. Will I try the fatal gesture with him? No. Firstly, because he’s already sixteen: that’s a bit old for me. And then, because of our mutual friends, our little Russian-Orthodox world, curious and gossipy.

Preryme Claude. La Nuit du 21 il. Joubert
A boys' adventure story by Claude Préryme, illustrated by Pierre Joubert

    6th April. Claude Préryme[23] shows me his collection of photos of young boys. The images are often disturbing: I’d never seen kids photographed in such situations, and I couldn’t even imagine that such pictures were possible (I mean, that models would agree to pose like that).
    Yes, disturbing photos, and yet I’m the opposite of a voyeur: the spectacle of beauty only really interests me if I have a chance to enter the game, a hope of putting my hand to the flesh, of feeling around. Examining photos to make a choice is all very well, but chaste contemplation is nothing but frustrating. I’ve never had a taste for solitary wanking: for me, pleasure has the face of another person. I don’t like coming in front of a mirror. [p. 292]

 Undated, between 6 and 20 April:

    At T., I see M. again, who is now fifteen and appears quite the little man: already the Mediterranean male, rolling his shoulders. He talks to me of twist, football, Johnny Hallyday. It is, I sense, my last visit. A page to turn. [p. 294]


From 8 to 22 August, Matzneff was in Italy. Readers wishing to read Matzneff’s journals in chronological order should at this point turn to Matzneff in Northern Italy, 1962-71.


    Friday 31st August. […]

    At a dinner at the Struves, I get to know a Catholic couple. The woman tells me at length about her three sons, aged between eleven and fourteen, “all very handsome”.
     “As soon as they return to Paris,” she assures me, “you will meet them.” [p. 307]

11 13 15 brothers 1960 d3

     15 October. […]

     I meet the three C. sons. They are not perhaps as beautiful as their mother thinks, but they are sweet. The one I sympathise with the most is the youngest, Gilles, twelve, curly as a cherub. [pp. 309-10]

    Sunday 9th December. That quick, unexpected conquest of France, who came to interview me for a youth magazine and who, one thing leading to another (if I dare say it), spent the night with me. What fun life is!
    During that night, we did everything except the actual act of sex. There’s a nuance there that girls are extremely keen on and that I, for one, have never understood. Little boys are less complicated. But perhaps I only think that because I’m more at ease with young boys than with young girls, in front of whom I remain, despite everything, a little hesitant and bogged down? [p. 313]


Continue to The Archangel With Cloven Hooves, 1963-4.


[1] In Greek mythology, Herakles’s wife Deianeira gave him a tunic which, unknown to her, was steeped in the venom of the Lemaian Hydra and began to cook him alive.

[2] Les Petits Chanteurs à la croix de bois (literally “Little Singers of the Wooden Cross”) was one of the foremost boys’ choirs, based in Paris and consisting of boys aged from 9 or 10 to 14.

[3] Henry de Montherlant (1895-1972), an eminent author and boysexual, whose writings include the play La Ville dont le prince est un enfant (1952) and the novel Les Garçons (The Boys), published in 1969.

[4] Montherlant was to be an enduring friend and influence on Matzneff, so from here on he is frequently mentioned in the journals.  But though they shared a love of boys, the references to him are not noted except where a reference to Greek love is at least implicit.  For the sake of those seeking biographical information on Montherlant, the ignored mentions of him in This Flaming Straitjacket are on pp. 80-3, 90, 95-6, 98-9, 102, 104-5, 106, 131, 139, 144, 153-4, 161-2, 166, 193, 199, 205, 207, 210, 211, 215-6, 222, 224, 226, 229, 230, 251, 254-7 and 265.

[5] Jean-Louis Foncine was the pen name of Pierre Lamoureux (1912-2005), the author of numerous scouts’ adventure stories for boys in the Signe de Piste collection, usually finely illustrated with boys by Pierre Joubert and thus of interest to boysexuals.

[6] Blue ballets (ballets bleus) were pederastic scandals (in contrast to ballets roses signifying nymphophilic scandals). La Chapelle-Saint-André is in the central Nièvre department of France. In this particular scandal, some eminent men were arrested for indecent assault, such as the writer and film-maker Georges Ferney (always much involved with boy scouts).

[7] Braham was a fourteen-year-old boy living in Cherchell, Algeria, with whom Matzneff had recently  fallen in love during his first visit to North Africa (March to April 1959).

[8] Prince Myshkin was the protagonist of Fyodor Dostoevsky's 1869 novel The Idiot.

[9] Serge Dalens was the pen name of Yves Marie Paul Raoul (comte) de Verdilhac (1910-98), prolific author of boys’ adventure stories also popular with boysexuals on account of many of them being illustrated with fine pictures of boys by his friend Pierre Joubert.

[10] Jean-Claude Alain (1916-2009) was another prolific author of boys’ adventure stories, also mentioned by Matzneff on pp. 144-5, 189, 258 and 269. Matzneff does not explain how they became friends, but, apart from their mutual interest in boys, Alain seems also to have been Russian Orthodox like Matzneff. Alain came unstuck in his prominent role in the boy scouts movement over his exposure as boysexual in 1962. Matzneff’s journal is sometimes cited as evidence of Alain’s romantic interests.

[11] Alain Louis Max Catherine Lootgieter (1944-2022), who had reached fifteen that month, was a boy with whom Matzneff had fallen in mutual love the preceding month in Cherchell, Algeria, where his apparently-approving father was a judge.

[12] The Action chrétienne des étudiants russes was a youth movement in western Europe attached to the Russian Orthodox church, to which Matzneff’s family belonged.

[13] Street boys.

[14] It is far from clear who “him” refers to, since the subject of the preceding paragraph was an old and drunken battalion commander.

[15] This is the first of many mentions in Matzneff’s journals of Roger Peyrefitte (1907-2000), author of the prize-winning Special Friendships (1943) and pre-eminent boysexual writer of his generation, whom Matzneff was to get to know well.

[16] Pierre Joubert (1910-2002) was a fine book illustrator, probably the best-know artist ever to concentrate on good-looking pubescent boys, and consequently popular with boysexuals.

[17] Gallimard was an important Parisian publisher who were playing a critical role in the publication of books by both Montherlant and later Matzneff.

[18] Deligny was a floating swimming-pool on the Seine in Paris frequented by Matzneff over many decades and where he often got to know girls and boys, leading to liaisons.

[19] Alain Lootgieter, apparently now living in France, had just accompanied Matzneff on his fourth trip to Algeria from 26 January to 2 February 1961.

[20] B. was by far the oldest male for whom Matzneff ever expressed desire in any of his journals.

[21] Alain Lootgieter had “crossed the Rubicon” of reaching sixteen eight months earlier. He remained a good friend of Matzneff and went camping with him, but later references to him on pp. 255, 260-1, 273, 291 and 294 that have no amorous vibes are omitted from this webpage.

[22] The Russian Orthodox priest Father Pierre Struve (1925-68), his wife Tatiana and their four children were old friends of Matzneff with whom he dined regularly. Like him, they were of White Russian descent.

[23] Claude Préryme was the pen name of Marc Corcy, like the already-mentioned Foncine and Dalens, an author of boys’ adventure stories in the Signe de Piste collection, usually finely illustrated with boys by Pierre Joubert and thus of interest to boysexuals.