【Minsheng Lecture】 The Game of the “I” and the Encounter with Literature


Philippe Forest, Huang Hong, Bi Feiyu



Chuchen Books, Citic Sight Dafang

A Fatality of Happiness

Guest Speakers: Philippe Forest (France), Huang Hong, Bi Feiyu
Live Interpreter: Zhang Hua
Host: Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum
Co-organizer: Chuchen Books, Citic Sight Dafang
Time & Date: 15:30–17:30, Sun, Jun 13, 2021
Venue: Interactive Multimedia Room (1F), Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum


.For the public health, the event requires real-name registration.
.Please bring your ID and wait in line at the admission.
.Before your entrance, you should get your temperature measured and register your information.
.Please wear a face mask the whole time during your visit. If you are experiencing a fever, cough, or short of breath, please understand that admission will not be granted.
.Please arrive 15 minutes before the start of the event.

In A Fatality of Happiness, a book of depth and profundity that defies categorization, Philippe Forest paints a self-portrait and reflects, through the mirror of Arthur Rimbaud’s poetry, the connection between the world, life, love, death, writing, and himself.

Une Fatalité de Bonheur (A Fatality of Happiness)

Philippe Forest (France)
Translated by Huang Hong
Citic Sight Dafang & Chuchen Books
Apr, 2014

26 letters, 26 words,
26 angles to interpret life,
All these words were found in Rimbaud’s poetry
And seem to share in Forest’s joys and sorrows.
Perhaps this is a strange twist of fate, a fatality of happiness.

When his only daughter passed away, he was short of his 34th birthday. As a means of self-healing and distracting his mind from bereavement, he started to write to dispel the gloominess of life. In this book, Forest takes twenty-six words from Arthur Rimbaud's poetry and aligns them alphabetically. With these words, he dives into the lives of Rimbaud and his own...

This book is the intersection of Forest’s and Rimbaud’s lives. Both of them were/have been on the road to the fatality of writing and of life. The experience of life is happiness per se.

“I've been trying to write something that cannot be categorized: something that is neither fiction nor essay but both fiction and essay. This idea suits me perfectly and I think it fits well with the books I write, which are both fiction and autobiography. That’s why my books are often categorized as what the French call “self-fiction.” But since “I am another,” it can henceforth also be treated as “other-fiction.” For me, if life is a novel, regardless of its category or subject, what is important is to show that the real is constantly becoming fictional, and the fiction is constantly becoming real.” Philippe Forest

In the afternoon of Jun 13 (Sun), Philippe Forest, the author of the newly published A Fatality of Happiness, the translator Professor Huang Hong, and the writer Bi Feiyu will be invited to talk about and explore the mystery of the writing of the “I.” The event is initiated and planned by the Cultural Services of the French Consulate General in Shanghai and is hosted by the Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum.

About Our Guests

Philippe Forest

Born in Paris in 1962, Forest is a French author of novels and literary critic. He graduated from Sciences Po in 1983 and received his doctorate in literature from the University of Paris IV in 1991. He taught in British universities including Cambridge and is now professor of French literature at the University of Nantes. He was the chief-editor at The New French Review, a prominent literary journal in France, from 2011 to 2014, and now contributes as a critic to the literary magazine Art Press. Forest received the Order of Arts and Letters and the Legion of Honor. He is one of the representatives of the “autofiction” in France. Most of his works are based in his personal experiences. Beginning with his memory of the death of his daughter with “utter frankness,” he has been rewriting and recreating the story of his lives in order to enquire into “the irresolvable mystery of truth.” Forest is the author of The Eternal Child (awarded the Femina Prize for a First Novel in 1997), Sarinagara (awarded the Décembre Prize in 2004), The Cat of Schrodinger, Aragon (awardedtThe Goncourt Prize of Biography in 2016), and Flood (won the French Language Prize in 2016).

Huang Hong

Huang is a Professor of French and doctoral supervisor at Nanjing University. She is the author of Jingguo (Looking Back), Xianlai Fanshu (Reading at Leisure), Zhuanshen, Xiangyu (Turn Around, Encounter), The Little Music of Marguerite Duras, Marguerite Duras: The Darkroom of Writing, and A Literary Life. As a prolific French–Chinese literary translator, Huang’s translations include Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, Wind, Sand and Stars, and Night Flight, Françoise Sagan’s Sunlight on Cold Water, Irène Némirovsky’s Dimanche and Other Stories and The Autumn Flies, Philippe Forest’s Sarinagara, The Cat of Schrodinger, and A Fatality of Happiness, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Force of Circumstance, Colette’s For a Herbarium, Marguerite Duras’ Outside II and The Last of the Trades: Interviews (1962-1991), Bernard Alazet and C. Blot-Labarrère’s Duras, Lætitia Cénac’s Marguerite Duras: the Writing of Passion, Ismaïl Kadaré’s The Drums of Rain, Patrick Modiano’s Dora Bruder, and Danièle Sallenave’s Beaver Of War.

Bi Feiyu

Bi is a writer and professor at Nanjing University.