French writer, essayist and critic Philippe Sollers passed away last week on May 6 at the age of 86. Sollers was an influential figure in French literature, especially known for his new experimental approach to narrative form and language as seen in early works Le Parc (1961), Drame (1965) and Nombres (1966). In later work, such as Lois (1972), H (1973), and Paradis (1981), he continued to explore this intense stylistic work. In 1960, Sollers co-founded the avant-garde literary journal Tel Quel together with Marcelin Pleynet, an important platform for experimental and innovative writing, at Éditions du Seuil. It featured the work of influential thinkers and critics such as Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, and Roland Barthes. Later he created the journal L’Infini at Denoël Éditions, which soon moved to Gallimard Éditions. Sollers was married to the philosopher and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva.
In the early 1960s, Sollers collaborated on Jean-Daniel Pollet’s film Méditerranée, for which he wrote a poetic text to accompany the film. This text, alongside another essay Sollers wrote about Méditerranée, was translated to Dutch and published on Sabzian for the Milestones screening of Méditerranée and L’ordre in 2020. You can find those translations here.
Sollers also featured in several films by Jean-Paul Fargier. Perhaps most notable is Fargier’s film about the historical encounter between the filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard and the writer in 1984.