The great and good French novelist and thinker Jean Raspail died on June 13, three weeks short of his 95th birthday. I was deeply saddened by the news, although at his age it was to be expected. It is ironic that he succumbed to the COVID-19 virus, the product and totemic symbol of our age and the globalized world, both of which he loathed with a passion.
His bookcase-lined study felt a tad melancholy when I entered it, for the first and only time, in the summer of 1993, courtesy of General Pierre Gallois. It brightened soon enough with the host’s easy bonhomie, single malt Scotch (that was a surprise, I expected cognac), strong tobacco, and lively conversation. Raspail did not look very French to me. He seemed the embodiment of a Nordic patrician with his military mustache, a regular and austere face, a straight and remarkably slim figure. He was 68 at the time and looked 10 years younger. He evoked the image of ancient warriors whose blond hair turned red in the light of the Hyperborean campfires.