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three pairs of lovers with space



L’Archange aux pieds fourchus: Journal 1963-1964 (The Archangel with Cloven Hooves: Journal 1963-1964) is the second 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 1982.

Presented here are all the passages of Greek love interest concerning the large majority of the time that Matzneff was in France. Short passages concerning his stays in northern Italy and Algeria are presented separately, but linked in what follows so that the reader can read the journals in chronological order. The translation is this website’s.



Michel Marmin expressed the regret that one encountered in This Flaming Straitjacket so many little boys and so few young girls. He will rejoice therefore at the decisive breakthrough that the damsels make in this second volume of my journal. Nevertheless, I was still, at that time, very gauche and timid with young people of the sex: The Archangel shows that in order to recount the loves of Béatrice and Cyrille, I exalted, transformed, a liaison which in itself, was not much. [p.8]



Matzneff was living in Paris (as indeed he did most of his life). Here he is attending his father’s funeral:

12 choirboy at a funeral Paris 1963 d1

     11 February. […]
     After the service, I spend an hour with charming Gilles C., twelve, curly like a Murillo plaster. [p. 25]

     Monday 25. […] At the funeral of Monsignor Maillet […], I got to know a very pretty young singer. He is thirteen and lives in Paris. I hope to see him again. [p. 26]

     Saturday 2nd. Afternoon with the adorable Gilles. Curiously, his mother does not seem to take offense at our affair; she would rather encourage it. It is true that the friendship which unites me to the Struves is, in her eyes, a virginal sesame.[1]         

     Monday 4th [March …]
    At the end of the afternoon, I meet Gilles at his place. Then I call on the Struves for our institutional dinner on Monday. 

     Wednesday 6th. At noon, I pick up Gilles at the end of his school day. Lunch at his parents’ home. [p. 29]

Matzneff is camping with Gilles and his scout patrol.

      Sunday 24. […]
    The ravishing Pierre-Étienne seems escaped from a drawing by Joubert.[2] He is the prettiest in the patrol. Gilles is sweet, but he is not really beautiful. Pierre-Étienne is superb. [pp. 34-5]   

Matzneff has been invited to her home in the Avenue de Breteuil by an unknown woman reader who had written to him a fortnight earlier. She was thirty-seven and married to an Air Force General[3], with four children.

    3 April. […] I dine alone at the Camionneurs, then I go to Avenue de Breteuil. Corinne F. is lively, witty, full of charm. Her husband, the general, is much more sympathetic than I imagined. But the real blow to my heart came when their eldest son, Tristan, a teenager of fifteen or sixteen, beautiful as the day, entered the room where we were. [...]

     14 April. Tristan captivates me. He is so beautiful that, as soon as my eyes rest on his face, I blush; but I am also in love with his sister, Maud, who is thirteen. What an enchanting family! […]

     19 April. Yesterday, late afternoon with Tristan. Today, I dine with his parents and will see him again. […]

     2 May. […] I say to Tristan, “Certainly, there are ‘just causes’, there are even some for every taste: Christianity, communism, underdeveloped countries, Europe... But in the first place, there is you. However important the destiny of humanity may be, it shouldn’t be more important to you than your own destiny. You’ve only one duty, which is to fulfill yourself.”
     I also say to him: “You’re sixteen. The next ten years are decisive for you. When you are an old man of twenty-six years, the game will be over. Either you will be a free spirit, or you will be a petit-bourgeois, obsessed by greed, social climbing, social vanity and mediocre worries.” [...]

16 dining 1963 d6 

     7 May. Beautiful letter from Tristan’s mother about her son and the worries she has about him. Not only does she not take offence at our budding friendship, but she writes to me: “Tristan badly needs a young man in his life. I’ve known this for a long time. Perhaps you’ve come at the right time.”

     20 June. […] General F. never ceases to call Tristan a retard, and he is exasperated by the supposed softness of his son; he doesn’t understand that this apathy masks a lack of self-confidence, and a need for tenderness.
     The best thing that could happen to Tristan would be to run away, to leave with me. But will we have the courage and the spirit?

     5 July. Tristan is more charming than ever. He decides at last to call me by my first name.

     6 July. With Tristan, Maud and the twin, we begin to shoot a film: Is God Chinese?

     7 July. Shooting of Is God Chinese? in the studio (i.e. in the F.s’ kitchen), but also outside, on the lawns of the Avenue de Breteuil. Maud and I are definitely very talented. As for Tristan, Fritz Lang is not his cousin.[4] A day of huge laughter.

     In love with Tristan? In love with Maud? Sometimes, I tell myself it’s the whole family I’ve fallen in love with. […]

     10 July […] Evening in the F. home. Tristan, who has failed his baccalaureate, is closer to me than ever. I would like him to measure the extent of the affection I have for him. I would like so much to help him.
     In my dreams, for I often dream of him, his sixteen-year-old-Hindu-god face sometimes merges with that of Thérèse L.[5] [...]

     July 13. Departure for Venice. Before that, I come to say “see you” to Tristan. “See you”, because the F.s are leaving soon for Turkey and will stop in Venice: we have fixed a precise rendezvous in Saint Mark’s square, in front of the cathedral which has already, twice (Pétrouchka and the English boy)[6], been propitious for my loves. [pp. 36-54]


Readers wishing to read Matzneff’s journals in chronological order should at this point return to Matzneff in Italy, 1962-73.


Matzneff returned to Paris from Venice near the end of July. On 28 August, he describes the four kinds of travel (pilgrimage, artistic, erotic and business):

     The erotic voyage, […] it’s the naughty man who goes to Marrakech to meet little boys. [p. 70]

In Paris:

     9 September. At lunchtime, Françoise. At the end of the afternoon, Gilles.
     Transgression exalts me. [p. 72]

 15 hitchhiking 1963 d1

    14 September. Afternoon with François, Alain’s charming little brother.[7] He is as lively and pretty as Alain at his age. In the spring, we had a short hitchhiking trip together. I’m delighted to see him again today. [p. 76]

     Thursday 19th. Eleven o’clock. The telephone rings. It’s Corinne F. They’ve been back from Turkey for a week and trying in vain to reach me. We talk about various things. Suddenly, she lets on, “We've decided to put Tristan in a boarding school. He’ll leave in three days.”
     “Tristan... a boarder... but where...,” I stammered.
     “In Brittany, in a military school. At the Prytanée de la Flèche.
     “Is this the General’s idea?”
     “Yes, it’s my husband’s idea.”
     “And it’s because of me that he’s keeping Tristan away from Paris?”
     “Partly, no doubt... He thinks that the discipline and atmosphere of virile camaraderie of La Flèche will do him more good than your... friendship.”
     Corinne invites me to come to their house, late afternoon.

     The evening. Saw Tristan again. As beautiful and affectionate as ever. But I couldn’t see him one to one. I told him, quickly, how sorry I was that he was leaving. He murmured, “I'm sad too.” [...]

    21 September. Last day of summer and last evening with Tristan, Avenue de Breteuil. Heavy atmosphere. Before dinner, Tristan and I had the opportunity to escape. We went for a walk beside the Invalides. I told him what was in my heart. He too is horrified by this separation and exile to a provincial school. He tells me about the General:
     “He’s a bit of a sadist. He can see my grief and yours. He’s delighted. That’s why he did it.”
     During dinner, the conversation, falsely casual, sounds bad. I hardly take part in it. I am ice-cold with the general, answering him only in monosyllables, and I do not take my eyes off Tristan.
     Our farewell, botched, in the presence of the family, was horrible. We could feel the general’s evil gaze upon us. We did not dare to kiss each other. We shook hands, I turned my back and ran down the stairs. Terrible minutes. [...]

 Fleurquin General Pierre
Airforce General Pierre Fleurquin

     25 September. This afternoon, an atrocious scene from General F. who reproaches me, in a deliberately vulgar tone, for the “suspicious” nature of my friendship with Tristan. He’s furious that I didn’t want to, or didn’t know how to, conceal  from Tristan the grief his departure caused me. “It’s a manly example that the boy needs, not your enamoured-pussy look,” he says to me with an air that is meant to be Jupiterian, and which, were it not for the delicate situation, would make me laugh, so foolish is he. He heats up all on his own, becomes more and more aggressive, threatening, and I almost expect to see an inspector from the juvenile police force appear from the next room. I let the storm pass. In the end, not knowing what to blame me for, he barks:
    “On Saturday you were extremely rude to Corinne. You didn’t pay the slightest attention to her!”
     If now he is angry with me for not courting his wife... Nevertheless, I had the last word. As I took my leave, finding myself already on the landing, I said to him, with a mocking smile:
     “How do you know it’s Tristan I’m in love with? Perhaps it’s Maud. And Maud is only thirteen. So it’s not the Correctional Court that you could threaten me with, but the Assize Court...”[8] [...]

     28 September. Corinne is an adorable woman. The delicacy, the intelligence, the kindness she shows me, move me deeply. She tells me not to attach any importance to the argument I had on Wednesday with her husband; and she makes me understand that the passionate nature of the friendship which binds me to Tristan does not shock her in the least, that she does not conceive of any offence...”

     3 October. Tristan writes me a long letter from his prison-school. He tells me that his father had warned him against me “only two weeks after our acquaintance”; and that on the occasion his mother, too, spoke ill of me. But he adds, “Don’t be afraid that I believe the talk saying it’s necessary to leave you forever. I think about you always, to console myself. You represent in my eyes, or rather in my waking dreams, a kind of father and friend at the same time, a father such as I have never seen. That’s roughly why I love you.”
     What a beautiful letter! What an amazing boy! And how right I am to have become attached to him! [...]

Prytanee national militaire de La Fleche
                                                       The Prytanée national militaire de La Flèche

       1st November. Tristan’s birthday. My little exiled schoolboy has come to Paris for three days. If his father has allowed me to see him again, it is, I suppose, because he thinks that I am no longer a “danger” to the adolescent’s virtue. In fact, I think I have lost the game. The family and the moral order triumph in every respect. [pp. 77-87]

     14 November. Tender letter (in English) from Renato, my little friend from the summer in Venice. [p. 89]

     28 November. […] Back on the Quai des Grands-Augustins, I make love to my little singer, who has come to my house unexpectedly. His voice is beginning to change: in a few months’ time he will have to give up the soprano’s choir stalls. [p. 90]



     1 February. […] Letter from Tristan, who tells me of his suicidal temptations. He tells me that he overcomes them by thinking of the advice I gave him, before our separation, not to open the gas; and also by contemplating the little icon representing the Trinity by Rublev, which I gave him. Poor kid! I will never forgive his father for having exiled him to La Flèche. There are fruitful sufferings. This one is useless. [p. 103]

     6 February. Lunch with Gilles’s parents. In fact, there is only his mother and his little sister. Charming afternoon with the boy. [p. 105]

     28 February. […] Letter from Tristan. “I think of you more and more. I take the icon you gave me between my fingers to contemplate it for a long time. To tell the truth, I look more often at the inscription on the back of the image: ‘For Tristan, his friend Gabriel, 20.IX.63.’ You are the inaccessible friend. Yet you are my only friend.” [p. 113]


Readers wishing to read Matzneff’s journals in chronological order should at this point continue to Matzneff in Algeria, 1959-64.


     9th May. I return to the Parisians again, and their fishy faces. Dinner with Montherlant.[9] I tell him about my trip to Algeria. What interests him is to know if it is as easy as before the war to manufacture little boys. I tell him about my adventures. He listens to me, rolling balls of breadcrumbs between his fingers as usual, then grumbles, “I still think it can’t be as good as it was in my day.” [p. 148]

     Marie-Christine. I tell her that I also have a taste for little boys. She laughs, half shocked and half amused. “I'll have to hide my little brother,” she says, before unbuttoning a button on my shirt and caressing my breast.

     4 June. With Pierre-Étienne and Gilles in the Bois de Vincennes. The fresh presence of these boys is enough to make me happy. I am a sex maniac, yes, but there are moments of harmony when sex is not only not necessary to my happiness, but, if it were imposed on me, would seem intrusive.
    To be a true libertine is to know how to taste the pleasures of chastity as well. [pp. 154-5]

     17 June. […] Watched Robin Hood again with Gerard (thirteen). When we were eleven, Hugues A.[10] and I, Errol Flynn was our god, and we had, in less than a term, seen Robin Hood more than five times - skipping school to do so, like Truffaut's hero in The 400 Blows.
     On leaving the cinema, I tell Gérard about my evening last Tuesday on a sightseeing-boat, with Nicole de Buron, Jean Bruel and Amaury de Chaunac.
     “You could have taken me with you!” grumbled Gérard.
     I have a lot of trouble getting him to admit that Bruel would have been happy to see me go on board with a girl (even a very young one), but that he wouldn’t have understood my being flanked by a thirteen-year-old boy. Not everyone has a Matznevian vision of bisexuality. [p. 157]   

12 Slovak under tree 1963 d1

On 22 August, Matzneff went to Czechoslovakia for about a fortnight. On the 27th he went to Ocova in Slovakia:

     27 August. […] In Ocova, with the school children. Lunch of cottage cheese and curd. After the meal, I leave the group with a twelve-year-old shepherd boy. We lie down in the shade of the fir trees. The smell of earth and grass mingles with that of the blond hair of the kid, who has put his head on my shoulder. In the distance, a haunting flute tune. It is the hour when it would be sweet to die. [p. 179]   

Back in Paris:

     Wednesday 16th. On the phone, this vibrant voice, but a bit hoarse. It's Gilles, still so young, and already beginning to change. How time passes...

     25 September. Dinner at Jean-Claude A.’s. I tell him about Thérèse,[11] but disguising her as a little boy. A story about a woman would bore him, whereas I know that he is ready to listen with attention and interest to the story of my adventures with a boy. This is not cheating, because for me the feeling of love, whether it is addressed to a teenage girl or a young boy, is the same. [...]

     Saturday. Gilles, Pierre-Étienne, and this evening, met by chance in the metro, Tristan.
     Tristan, as beautiful as last year. His translucent face.[12] [...]

12 on bus Paris 1963 d2

     1st October. Afternoon with Pierre-Étienne. He is prettier than ever. Without question, of all the scouts in Gilles’ patrol, he is the most beautiful. [pp. 190-3]]

     21 October. [...] This afternoon, on bus 39, this blond boy in short shorts. There, at least, the situation is simple: it's all about packaging and fucking. How much less fuss boys make than girls! Pederasty, what a rest! [p. 198]]

     1 November. […] I dine with Préryme.[13] He does not blame me for my affair with Thérèse, but wants to arm me against the temptation of marriage.
     “Even if for five years you thought only of your wife, after that it would be a catastrophe. You have too much of a Don Juan temperament to get married... and then you also like little boys too much... These are not the ideal conditions for founding a household... [p. 204]

     13 November. In the mail, a letter from … Hergé![14] Tintin plays such a role in my life, since my childhood, that I’m transported with joy. A letter from Hergé! […]

     Dinner at the Struves. I see in their home the adolescent girl with the beautiful dark eyes that I had noticed in October, in Montgeron. She has pretty breasts, very feminine, but a slender body and the brusque manner of a young boy. She is entering the second year of secondary school and her name is Tatiana Scherbatcheff.[15] [pp. 207-8]

     18 November. [...] The evening. Dinner with Préryme. This day when a publisher has accepted my first manuscript should be the finest of my life. However, I think only about Thérèse, and my joy is poisoned by it.
     Préryme tells me:
     “By loving Thérèse, you do not escape your taste for young boys. It is her face of a little Florentine page that has attracted you, and the adolescent slenderness of her body. You think you love a woman, but you love only the child in her.”

     The idea of suicide and the desire for happiness obsess me equally. This is my secret swing.

     19 November. Visit from B.[16] For this person, who once played such a decisive role in my life, I now have nothing but indifference. Of course, the complicity of old ties remains between us, but these ties are dead. This face which, four years ago, exercised its omnipotence over me, I love no longer, I have no more need of it. Shall I, in November 1968, be able to write the same about Thérèse? [pp. 211-2]

 Herge 2
Georges Remi, better known by his pen name of Hergé

    Thursday 17 [December]. With Pierre-André Boutang,[17] I go to meet Hergé at the Hotel Vendôme, where he is staying. Hergé! I am, I think, as moved and impressed as the first time I met Montherlant, in 1957.
     We have lunch at the Galant Verre, rue de Verneuil. The foie gras is excellent. Hergé, amazingly simple and youthful. After lunch, we go to the right bank to record. Boutang introduces me as “one of the greatest Tintinologists in Europe”. I blush under my tan. The programme goes well, but immediately afterwards I leave Hergé, because Thérèse, whom I saw in a rush this morning, has promised to come to my place at the end of the afternoon. [p. 219]

     Thursday 24 December. [...] This afternoon I was thinking about my break-up letter when the doorbell rang. It was little Gilles, whom I had neglected a little for a few months because of Thérèse. He is still as fresh and cuddly as ever. When the devil gets involved...
     Gilles’s pleasure spurts from between my fingers and spreads in clear droplets on his bare chest. We remain motionless for a moment, then the boy straightens up, pushes my hand away, my body pressed against his, and, jumping off the bed, nervously picks up his clothes scattered on the floor. If there’s one thing that differentiates little boys from girls in matters of love, it’s this: with them, when it’s over, it’s over. One gets dressed and doesn’t talk about it anymore. [p. 221-2]


Continue to Venus and Juno, 1965-9.


[1] The Russian Orthodox priest Father Pierre Struve (1925-68), his wife Tatiana and their four children were old friends of Matzneff with whom he dined regularly. Like him, they were of White Russian descent. Matzneff had met Gilles C.’s mother at one such dinner the previous August and then the boy himself in October. “Sesame” here presumably refers to the magical words “Open sesame” that Ali Baba used to enter the thieves’ den in a tale in the Arabian Thousand Nights and One Night, and implies that his friendship with a family of such repute as the Struves was the key to Mme. C. approving the 26-year-old Matzneff’s friendship with her youngest son.

[2] Pierre-Étienne was presumably one of the two elder brothers of Gilles whom Matzneff had met at the same time, now aged fifteen at most. The work of the brilliant illustrator Pierre Joubert, frequently mentioned by Matzneff, concentrated heavily on pubescent boys and especially boy scouts, Joubert being much involved in the boy scout movement.

[3] Pierre Albéric Gabriel Fleurquin (1905-71), a retired Général de Brigade Aérienne. His wife Corinne was to remain a good friend of Matzneff’s until her death on 2 October 1980.

[4] Fritz Lang (1890-1976) was an eminent Austrian film director, so the implication is that Tristan was not much good at directing.

[5] Thérèse L. was a girl he had met a fortnight earlier and been instantly smitten with.

[6] Matzneff had described in his preceding journal his liaisons with these two adolescents in October 1962. See Matzneff in Northern Italy, 1962.

[7] Matzneff had met and fallen in love with 14-year-old Alain Lootgieter, son of a French judge, in September 1959 in Algeria, and his liaison with the boy had developed into a lasting friendship when they returned to France.

[8] An Assize Court tried crimes and could inflict heavier penalties than a Correctional Court, which tried misdemeanours, so this implies that sex with a willing girl of thirteen was a more serious offence than sex with a willing boy of sixteen. Neither had been illegal before the collaborationist Vichy régime raised the age of homosexual consent for boys from 13 to 21 in 1942, and the age of consent for girls was raised from 13 to 15 in 1945.

[9] The much older French writer and boysexual Henry de Montherlant, whose early friendship with Matzneff was described by the latter in his first journal.

[10] Hugues A., Matzneff’s first love mentioned in his journals, killed himself in July 1954, when Matzneff was seventeen. Matzneff had stopped trusting his mother when he was eleven and she had signified her disapproval of their friendship (Gabriel Matzneff’s Earliest Journals, 1953-59).

[11] Matzneff’s liaison with Thérèse L. (see the entry of 10 July 1963) had finally been consummated on 7 August 1964.

[12] This is the last mention in this journal of Tristan Fleurquin, who was to inspire the “Letter to Tristan” included in Matzneff’s first book, Le Défi, published in February 1965. They met again that month, but, as Matzneff described in his next journal, he no longer felt anything sensual for the youth, who was by then sixteen or seventeen.

[13] Claude Préryme, was the pen name of Marc Corcy, an author of boys’ adventure stories, mentioned in a previous journal as showing Matzneff his erotic photographs of boys (Matzneff in France, 1961-62).

[14] Hergé was the pen name of Georges Remi (1907-83), the author of The Adventures of Tintin, the greatest series of comic books ever. The main character of the title was a teenage boy reporter, whose best friend and travelling companion was a middle-aged bachelor. A central theme of three of the books (The Blue Lotus, Prisoners of the Sun and Tintin in Tibet) was emotionally-intense friendships struck up between Tintin and much younger local boys encountered during his adventures.
     Matzneff had admired Hergé since boyhood. The letter he mentions here was provoked by his having just published an article about Tintin and led to a lifelong friendship. See the article “Entre Hergé et Matzneff, une amitié improbable” by Jérôme Dupuis in L’Express, 16 February 2020. In A Gallop from Hell, Matzneff mentioned two dinners with Hergé and the much younger Fanny Vlamynck, “the most exquisite couple I know” (p. 21), at the second of which, Matzneff joyfully introduced them to one of his girl loves (p. 272). In the same journal, he described Hergé as “one of the only two elders with whom I can speak, with whom I really want to speak.” (p. 252). Fanny became Hergé’s mistress in 1956 and his second wife in 1972. Matzneff was devastated by the death of Hergé, whom he described as “a spiritual father” he loved more than his real father. “He loved you so much,” Fanny told him when they spoke that day. She had been trying to telephone Matzneff from the day Hergé fell into a coma, and imagined his being away was due to his being “in the Philippines” (My Broken Down Loves, pp. 50-1 & 60).
     Long before this, Matzneff’s love affairs with pubescent girls and boys had been well-known as the subject of his published work, so it is reasonable to infer from all the foregoing that, at the very least, the creator of Tintin did not share the growing public hysteria about Greek love.
     The frequent further references in the journals to Matzneff’s meetings and friendship with Hergé are mostly omitted from this website’s extracts. They also corresponded.

[15] The significance of this passage is that Tatiana was to be Matzneff’s wife. She was born on 24 October 1946, so she had just reached eighteen.

[16] B. had been a friend of Matzneff during his military service in 1959-61 and the only fellow-soldier to whom he had been at all sexually attracted, as, although twenty, he looked sixteen.

[17] Boutang (1937-2008) was a documentary film producer and director.