The Prime Minister, the philosopher, and the sorcery that caused stigmata

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Is the new French prime minister a "sorcerer" as well as a poet? The question of Dominique de Villepin's previously unrevealed psychic powers is raised in a book published by a reputable French author.

Is the new French prime minister a "sorcerer" as well as a poet? The question of Dominique de Villepin's previously unrevealed psychic powers is raised in a book published by a reputable French author.

Philippe Boggio recounts the first meeting eight years ago between M. de Villepin, 51, and the celebrity philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy.

During their conversation, M. de Villepin compared the philosopher and writer to "a Christ without wounds". Levy, now 56, was badly shaken by the comparison, and according to several sources - including his wife - woke that night bleeding from his palms.

After weeks of recurrent bleeding, and unsuccesful treatment in Paris, Milan and London, Levy went to see M. de Villepin a second time, according to the book. M. de Villepin, head of President Chirac's private office at the time, is reported to have said jokingly: "I knew I had powers, and that I am a great African sorcerer, but not to that extent."

"It is an incredible story, a story to make your flesh creep, but verified by reliable sources," Boggio says in his book Une Vie (A life). This is the third biography to be published in recent weeks of Lévy, a telegenic philosopher known for his willingness to defy the left-wing consensus in French intellectual life.

M. de Villepin is a published poet and historian, known - or notorious - for his linguistic flourishes. His elevation to the post of Prime Minister last week - following the French "non" in the EU referendum - caused some puzzlement in France and abroad.

Boggio, the author of several other well-received biographies, reported that the "stigmata" incident occurred in March 1997, when Lévy was depressed by the disastrous, public reception for his first (and only) film, Le Jour et la Nuit.

M. de Villepin, always fascinated by sudden and calamitous failure according to the book, delivered a high-flown monologue before telling Lévy: "You look like a Christ without wounds". Lévy, who has a tendency to hypochondria according to Boggio, was deeply shaken. He slept fitfully that night and woke "with streams of blood on each palm". For two or three weeks, the bleeding would reappear in the evening. The writer wore bandages on his palms and was forced to go to his Parisian haunt, the Café de Flore, with his hands in his pockets.

Lévy's wife, the actress and singer Arielle Dombasle, one of Boggio's sources, is quoted saying: "It was a sign that the psyche of Bernard-Henri Lévy was quarrelling with his body."

Comments