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Oblivion is Devil’s Play

For the first time, renowned historian Max Gallo reveals his life through an exceptional autobiography.

This autobiography reads like a novel – a novel of initiation. A history book, a tale of destiny, Max Gallo shares his life, its high and low points and the conviction that “The only ones who really die and go to hell are those who we forget. Oblivion is devil’s play.”

“The night and my second life were finally beginning. My typewriter was sitting on a crate. I was on the floor, holding the crate up with my legs. My father had installed a light socket and left a lamp for me. In the cone of light scattered through the opaline green lampshade, I could only make out the keyboard, my fingers and the well-lined, well-spaced sentences that seemed dictated by a voice that started somewhere in my chest then filled my mouth with a sharp taste.

Lined up side by side, these words would become essays, books. I knew it, I wanted it – this was my true destiny.
My ‘first life’ was only a mirage. One day, I may no longer have to pretend, to learn how to work the mill, adjust the dovetail joint, suffer criticism from a boss claiming I am ‘good-for-nothing’, ‘lazy’, a ‘snob’ who couldn’t even file at a 45-degree angle.

I could be free.

‘No light,’ my father said before going upstairs.
He had wrapped the typewriter in one of his blue smocks and, when he was about to leave the basement, I held my hands out.
“It’s yours,” he whispered. “You know what a risk this is.”

It was heavy, hard to carry. I didn’t know how to hold it. It cut into my fingers, pulled on my shoulders, but it was MY typewriter, my weapon.
I started slowly climbing, making sure not to trip and not wanted to stop, despite my father repeating ‘stop and catch your breath.’
But I had already found my breath. I had it in my arms.”


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