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three pairs of lovers with space



Vénus et Junon: Journal 1965-1969 (Venus and Juno: Journal 1965-69) is the third of the twelve published journals of the prize-winning French writer Gabriel Michel Hippolyte Matzneff (born 12 August 1936). It was published by la Table ronde in Paris in 1979.

This volume takes its name from its concerning the five years of Matzneff’s life when he was “balanced between Venus and Juno, that is to say between my libertine loves and the temptation of marriage, between inconstancy and fidelity.” This was because in the first of the sixty months described, he became the lover of Tatiana Scherbatcheff and, in the penultimate month, he took the plunge and became engaged to her. It was during this time that he established himself as a writer, publishing his first four books.

Presented here are all the passages of Greek love interest except those concerning his stays in Tunisia, the USSR and Morocco, presented on separate webpages to which links are provided in the text which follows. The translation is this website’s.



From the side of Asia came Venus, that is to say pleasures, foolish loves and softness; from the side of Greece came Juno, that is to say seriousness with conjugal love.
     BOSSUET, Discourse on Universal History, III, V.



On 16 January, Matzneff both deflowered and pedicated eighteen-year-old Tatiana, “this adorable woman-child […] with her little boy’s body” with whom he had been having a romance since 25 December.

Matzneff Gabriel. 1960s
Gabriel Matzneff, 1960s

     30 January. Paris. I find Tatiana, who has escaped from school. We make love. Nothing moves me more than to initiate innocence to caresses, to pleasure, to sensual audacities. Tatiana discovers this unknown universe as an awkward and passionate adolescent. For me, it is captivating; for her too, I hope. In her arms, I think that, whatever Préryme[1] says, I like girls better than boys: they are more loving, more tender, more inventive... Once a boy has come, it’s over: he gets dressed and thinks only of going to football or the cinema; with a girl, on the contrary, everything begins.
      In November, Préryme tried to persuade me that it is their adolescent-page side that attracts me to girls. One could just as easily argue the opposite: that I am only troubled by young boys insofar as they are “pretty as girls”. It’s their pulchritude that I enjoy in boys, not their (future) masculinity. I am a pederast; I am not in any way a homosexual.
     What is a pederast? It is a lover of children, girls and boys. The extreme youth, that third sex. [p. 21]

     Saturday 6 [February]. Dinner Avenue de Breteuil. Tristan is still charming,, but the charm no longer works: the feelings I have for him at present are of pure friendship, nothing sensual. The general can sleep in peace.[2] [p. 23]

On 14 July, Matzneff hitchhiked from Marseille to Paris:

     Eventually an air force officer picked me up, then a bricklayer, accompanied by a delightful thirteen-year-old apprentice, who was very interested in my Scout belt. We stopped in a village with an open-air swimming pool. The boy and I cool off there. In the shower, we caress furtively. Separation.

Later the same day, he arrived at the monastery of Saint Nicolas:

14 in Deligny 1966 d1

     Two enchanting days with Maurice and André, ravishing kids, little brothers of Father Marc. Bicycle rides, swimming, prayer.

     This ever-renewed sensual desire is evil for theologians, and misfortune for philosophers. But it is also the sovereign good, and salvation. Without it, I would sink to the bottom. […]

     Disappearance of Louis, the fourteen-year-old chestnut-blond known in June at Deligny.[3] He claims that it was his older brother who threatened to tell their parents everything if we continued to see each other.
     The exhausting thing about boys is that you can’t build anything lasting with them. They are constantly slipping away from us. It is to them, even more than to the girls, that the Pindaric “dream of a shadow” applies.
     (20 July.) [pp. 38-9]



Readers wishing to read Matzneff’s journals in chronological order should here continue to Matzneff in Tunisia, 1966.

Long back in Paris:

     5 December. […] The letter Anne-Marie V. has just sent me is an example of how young girls gamble. She wrote to me at the age of thirteen that she had noted in her diary that she loved me. “Since that time, my soul has belonged totally to you. The known passions of a Madame de Rénal seem to me to be sisters of mine. And you, without suspecting for a moment the storm you had raised, continued to live normally. Sometimes I wished you dead, and yet I know very well that if you were no more I would be nothing, I would become an empty girl. When I read The Challenge (by the way, you have my book), an intimate communion united us, each word shaped my thoughts. I think you are sculpting my personality. I am hooked on you. I am not mad, Gabriel, you struck me down and I fell into love.”

15 girl writing letter Paris 1966 d1

     If my memories are exact, we met twice: the first time, when Anne-Marie was thirteen or fourteen, and the second a year and a half later, on the 15th of November last year. What is most accurate in her letter is when she exclaims: “And you, without suspecting for a moment the storm you had raised...”. It’s true, I had no idea that I was such an important part of this kid’s life. But her whole letter should be dissected, word by word. It would be very instructive.
     Singers and actors must, I suppose, often receive such letters from adolescent girls. Writers, more rarely.
     A boy of thirteen, fifteen, even one madly in love with me, would never write such a letter to me. He would express himself differently. I have letters from boys that are tender, even wanton (with specific allusions to what they like to do with me); I don’t think I've ever received one that was written in the tone of Anne-Marie’s letter. I tend (because it suits me) to confuse heterosexual pederasty with homosexual pederasty. Yet they are different in many ways. [pp. 104-5]



Readers wishing to read Matzneff’s journals in chronological order should here continue to Matzneff in the Land of the Soviets, 1966-67..

     Long back in Paris:

     12 July. […] Tatiana tells me:

     “I am your safeguard. Without me, in forty years, you’ll be a fine old man, busy running after little girls and little boys.” [p. 161]

     This rich Belgian lawyer, married, father of a family, who has, I’m told, the largest collection of pederastic pornographic photos in the world! All these photos of little boys and little girls are classified, labelled, and he masturbates every day while looking at them.
    If one has a theological turn of mind, one can see in this an extreme form of demonic possession; but one can also, in a more ordinary way, detect in it the sign of the poverty of the love life of paedophiles, in our European countries. [...]

     Pascal, fourteen years old, flirt at the swimming-pool and brought home.
    Coitus is the focal point of voluptuousness, but the kisses and caresses that precede and accompany it are essential; they alone constitute half the pleasure of love. At sixteen, and even long after, I was more at ease with boys than with girls. If I prefer girls today, I think it is because of the repugnance that young boys often have for libertine foreplay. “It’s girl stuff”, they grumble. Certainly not all are allergic to it, but many are, at least at first. Young girls are more cooperative.
     But, boys or girls, it is clear that what captivates me with the very young is the transgression: the thumbing of the nose at the prohibitions of adult society. Conning families, duping mothers, what joy! [pp. 166-7]

Early September. Matzneff was on holiday in Greece with Georgette Camille:

     Poros. The pupils of the naval military school are very charming. The older ones would drive my friend Chrysostom mad; as for the youngest ones (twelve to thirteen years old), Georgette kindly brings to shape the interest I show in them. Unfortunately, their chaplain, to whom I have a letter of recommendation, is on holiday. This worthy clergyman would have helped me set foot in the place! [pp. 170-1]



Readers wishing to read Matzneff’s journals in chronological order should here continue to Matzneff in Morocco, 1968.



Matzneff  his childhood
Matzneff as a boy

     It was at the age of eight that I fell in love for the first time. Since then, it has never stopped. Between the ages of eight and fifteen, I alternately loved little girls and little boys, chaste loves which, for the most part, were reduced to kisses exchanged in the shadow of the coach gateways of the Rue de la Tour or in the showers of the Saint-Lunaire tennis court. Some of these passions were even one-sided: Christine Brunon, Alain P., for example. At the age of fifteen and a half, I was very properly seduced by a girl, two years older than me. I must say that at that time I was really a very pretty boy. [p. 277]


[1] Claude Préryme, the pen name of Marc Corcy, an author of boys’ adventure stories, was mentioned in previous journals as a collector of erotic pictures of boys and as advising Matzneff against marriage on the grounds that he was a Don Juan and liked boys too much.

[2] Matzneff described his apparently chaste Greek love affair with Tristan Fleurquin and the hostility to it of the boy’s father, an Air Force Brigadier-General, in his preceding journal. There is some ambiguity as to Tristan’s age. In his journal, Matzneff first said he was fifteen or sixteen when they met in April 1963, then addressed him as a sixteen-year-old, but in his defunct website he said he was fifteen. His birthday was 1 November, so he was now either seventeen or eighteen. The Fleurquin family lived in Avenue de Breteuil.

[3] Deligny was a floating swimming-pool on the Seine in Paris frequented by Matzneff and where he often got to know girls and boys, leading to liaisons.