Les serviteurs inutiles

  • Prix La Voix des lecteurs 2017

Têtes huguenotes fichées sur des piques, catholiques brûlés vifs dans leurs églises, villages assiégés et décimés par la famine : plutôt que de prendre parti dans les haines qui déchirent le pays, Gabriel des Feuillades, vétéran des guerres d'Italie retiré dans son domaine périgourdin, préfère parler à ses arbres, contempler les étoiles, courtiser sa servante et dialoguer en silence avec les sages de l'antiquité.
Révolté par l'indifférence de son père, accablé par la mort de sa sœur tendrement aimée, Ulysse, le fils de Gabriel, part sur les routes de France. Espérant retrouver la jeune fille qu'il s'apprêtait à épouser, il se jette à corps perdu dans la mêlée. Jusqu'au jour où les voies de la providence mènent ce cœur pur là où il avait juré de ne jamais revenir.
Herbier littéraire mystique et sensuel, parabole sur l'adolescence et la maturité, Les Serviteurs inutiles fait résonner en notre siècle la faconde de Brantôme, l'âpreté de Monluc, et peut-être même la sagesse de Montaigne.
  • Vermillon
  • Paru le 11/02/2016
  • Genre : Littérature française
  • 288 pages - 140 x 205 mm
  • EAN : 9782710378617
  • ISBN : 9782710378617

Foreign Rights

Les Serviteurs inutiles

All rights available

Awards
The Readers' Voice 2017

Presentation

It’s the 16th century and France is divided. The heads of the Huguenots are stuck on pikes while Catholics are burned alive inside their churches. François II, Charles IX, Henri III… each new king follows the last without managing to end the violence. Everywhere, besieged villages are devastated by famine. However, Gabriel des Feuillades, a veteran of the Italian Wars and hero of the Siege of Siena, wants to once again find faith in his fellow man. From his property in the Perigord region, he attempts to forget the excesses of his time as he plays chess, re-reads the Greeks, and watches trees grow. And the very existence of this nature lover, more preoccupied with the cosmos than with Christian dogma, becomes richer; between conversations with his chaplain, hunting trips with his son Ulysses, and nights secretly spent with his voluptuous servant – so many possibilities for pleasure that this hedonist reports in the style of Montaigne’s essay in his diary.

But history can’t be so easily ignored; while the wars of religion bloody the cobblestones of Paris and Bergerac, Gabriel is forced to join the Catholics. For his part, Ulysses, disappointed in his father and inconsolable since the death of his sister, decides he cannot remain on the sidelines. He sets off on the roads of France, in love with a protestant yet fighting on behalf of Catholics for many years. Until the day when he learns that his father chose to suffer great hardships rather than give in to the enemy, and that his mother died without a proper burial. He then forgets his animosity and decides to return home to his loved ones.

A kind of impressionist painting or literary herbarium, a snapshot of an era, Les Serviteurs inutiles is a diptych novel exploring the mentalities of the men of the Ancien Régime with a rare modernity. In his sensual and chiseled language, Bernard Bonnelle exhumes one of the darkest chapters in French history and speaks of the tolerance and reconciliation of an era – our own – which has never needed both as badly as it does now.

Bernard Bonnelle is a judge living in Poitiers. Les Serviteurs inutiles is his third novel. The previous one, Aux belles Abyssines, published by La Table Ronde in 2013, has been awarded the Prix Nicolas-Bouvier.

"This book is a parable on tolerance and wisdom which looks like a Montaigne legacy." La Montagne

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