Editor’s Note: And now for something different. The author of yesterday’s fiction piece, “German Love Song,” graciously offered to interview himself. Yes, you read that right. Here’s Antoine Bargel interviewing Antoine Bargel on perceptions, story, and inspiration. —CMG


In “A German Love Song” you tell the story of a young gay man fighting the Nazis in the French Resistance guerrilla. I find this interesting, as the active role played by gay men during this historical moment is rarely acknowledged. Was it your initial motivation to write this piece, making such a political statement?

As you have indeed noted, I have written a story, not a statement.

Indeed, thank you. Do you not think that literature can serve political aims?

Maybe (although I would rather have politics serve literary aims), but certainly not by trying to make statements. Storytelling is a form of non-binary thinking, of which its own relationship to reality and the imaginary is an important part. Statements are built upon binary choices between conceptual or stereotypical abstractions. Certainly there are political beliefs of mine behind some of the decisions involved in storytelling, but the goal is to create something larger and more complex than a statement, or even a series of them.

My next question was: “Do you identify as a gay writer and which part does your gender identity play in your writing?” but I am beginning to think that I did not correctly prepare for this interview.

I don’t think that my writing owes much to my sexual life—sometimes to the lack thereof, maybe. And yes, you sound a lot like my former university professors—don’t look sad, it’s not an insult. But let’s just talk, OK?

Sure. What do you want to talk about?

Well, for instance, have you read any of Jorge Semprun’s novels?

Yes! In my “Writing the Holocaust” class, we talked about The Long Voyage as an example of socialist realist writing of deportation*. 1963.

If you read the one that came after that, L’Évanouissement (1967, untranslated), and what many consider his masterpiece, Literature or Life (1994), you will notice that in both he narrates the same scene, in which he kills a young German soldier to steal his motorcycle. In a field, by a river, with a bullet in the head, after the soldier sings a song.

*Bargel, Antoine, “Semprun and Lukács: For a Marxist Reading of Le grand voyage,” in A Critical Companion to Jorge Semprún: Buchenwald, Before and After, ed. Ofelia Ferrán et Gina Herrmann, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2014.

What?? You mean to say that you plagiarized him?

Calm down, I mean to say that my story was not born from a political statement, but as is more often the case, from another story. I reinterpreted this scene in my own way (making a polite bow to JS in my dedication) and connected it with other elements of reality and of my imagination.

You mean you also plagiarized others?

Sure, but not just. For instance, Yehudi’s character stems from a photograph that I have always found pretty cool, which shows the French writer Boris Vian and the American violinist Yehudi Menuhin, when they were kids, playing chess on the grass in the garden of one or the other’s parents (they were neighbors for a few years in the early 1930s, in … Ville d’Avray)

That is cool. But how do you get from these bits and pieces to your story?

Do you play chess?

A little.

Well then you know that a typical chess game has an opening, a middle, and an ending.

Yes but Arist—

Then you know as much as I do. I hope that you enjoyed the story. Which part did you like the most?

Well, I liked the part about teaching language through the imagination, because I was a teacher too. It’s nothing new in the pedagogical methodology of language acquisition, but still a pretty cool trick.


And on a personal level, I liked the children’s games. I was more of a ball boy myself, always playing some sport or other, but I wish that I’d had a friend to play theatrical games with. I was pretty lonely as a child. I guess your story sort of made me nostalgic about that, in a bittersweet way.

Nice. Now shall I tell you about the historical research that I did to locate this story in accurate places, times, and historical contexts?

No, I think I’d rather read another story. Do you have one on you?

Antoine Bargel showed schizoid tendencies from an early age. He is the author of “A German Love Song,” published 29 August 2016 in Easy Street.