Two prominent French writers who have been married for 30 years, Philippe Sollers and Julia Kristeva, discuss their attitude to infidelityby Philippe Sollers / October 20, 1996 / Leave a comment
Le nouvel observateur
8th-14th August 1996
I do not like the systematic reduction of infidelity to a sexual matter. For me, fidelity is a kind of shared childhood, a form of innocence. If we lose this innocence, then we become unfaithful. Love affairs, passions, and the rest do not count for me. People really become unfaithful when their relationship becomes too rigid, when they become serious to the point of resentment. True infidelity is a kind of intellectual betrayal. I am against being open about one’s love affairs. I am against the type of contract of total transparency Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir had between them. I am an advocate of secrecy. I think this so-called transparency was in fact a form of reciprocal inhibition, as if they had signed a contract of parallel frigidity. I believe that when you are having a real orgasm, you do not have to talk about it. Moreover, nobody really knows how Sartre led his life. He was a very secretive man.
Over the past century, our ideas about sex have undergone a fundamental change: before, sex was demonised, now it is supposed to contain the whole truth about human life. Exploited by technology and the media, sex has become boring.
A human being should not have to justify his sexuality. He is only accountable to himself. I can be accountable to others in social, intellectual or emotional matters, but not with regards to my sexuality. Sexual control is an unacceptable idea.
The presence of two women at Mitterrand’s funeral seemed a bit petit-bourgeois. Why not five? France has a tradition in these matters. It deserved better. Frankly, I was disappointed. But I suppose, as long as the Americans were shocked-we cannot ask for too much, can we?
Love is made up of two inseparable components: the need for complicity and fidelity, and the dramatic urge of desire, which can lead to infidelity. Love is a subtle mix of fidelity and infidelity. For me, fidelity is not about renouncing extramarital affairs. It is about respecting your partner’s body and sensitivity when you do have affairs.
One has to accept, however, that infidelity can be very unpleasant. It remains a trying experience. It can maim and sometimes even kill. But one can also laugh about it.
The sense of fidelity goes back to childhood and the child’s need for…