Every writer will recognize the feeling: you’re trying to fall asleep and words form in your mind, sentences, thoughts, essays, scenes. Finally, you get up and write something down—just a word or two, just enough to pull it all back in the morning.

The feeling reminds me of being in a Quaker meeting, that welling up of a thought that becomes so heart-pounding insistent that one is, as Quakers put it, “moved to speak.” Being “moved to write” is similar, and it’s important to have that scrap of paper and pencil handy.

Last night, it was thoughts about Jean Lemoine‘s biography of Claude—the heroine of The Next Novel—that kept me awake. I’ve posted the more academic of my thoughts on Baroque Explorations (my research blog): here.


But what I’d like to say here, is that Jean Lemoine’s book is that quintesentially French academic publication with thick, cream-coloured, ragged-edged paper, no cover to speak of, just black-and-cream, no commercial hooks whatsoever. All brain.

(This is an example: don’t you just swoon?)


It is the type of book you see filling the stalls of the bouquinistes along the river Seine. The type of book I’ve long cherished, and longed to have printed in my name. That’s impossible, of course: I’m no academic and, too, I doubt that such books are even being published in France today.

Tant pis!