Pour Camille de Peretti, écrire le roman de la marquise Casati, c’est aussi s’interroger sur la démarche du biographe (empathie ou duel ?), tenter de se mettre à la place d’une autre, la faire parler d’entre les morts, recouper des suppositions. « Peu importe que la Casati ait ou non habité le Palazzo dei Leoni à Venise. Car c’est moi qui dormirai dans son lit. »
Au gré d’allers-retours audacieux entre sa propre histoire et celle de ce personnage hors du commun, l’auteur redonne vie et démesure à cette héroïne oubliée de la première moitié du xxe siècle qui a inspiré les plus grands artistes de son temps.
Under option in: Germany, Korea
Born in 1881, Italy’s wealthiest heiress died in 1957, rummaging through London dustbins. Luisa Amman, known as “La Casati”, was not beautiful, she was spectacular. She was brilliant, fascinating, unpredictable, an exhibitionist and, taking extravagance extremely seriously, she wanted to “make her life a work of art”.
She was a muse to Gabriele d’Annunzio, Serge Diaghilev and Léon Bakst, a friend to Isadora Duncan, Augustus John and Man Ray… what a curious injustice that one of history’s most painted women – along with the Virgin Mary and Cleopatra – remains largely unknown to the general public.
For Camille de Peretti, writing a novel about the Marquise Casati, is also an exploration of the biographer’s methods (empathy or duel?), trying to put herself into another woman’s shoes, to bring her voice back from the dead, rekindling her assumptions. “It doesn’t really matter that La Casati did or didn’t live in the Palazzo dei Leoni in Venice. Because I’ll be the one sleeping in her bed.”
During the course of bold to-ing and fro-ing between her own life and that of this very unusual character, the author restores all the life and excesses of this forgotten heroine from the first half of the Twentieth Century, a woman who inspired some of the greatest artists of her time.
Camille de Peretti is the author of a highly regarded first novel, Thornytorinx (Belfond, 2005; winner of the Chambéry first novel prize) as well as Nous sommes cruels (Stock, 2006) and Nous vieillirons ensemble (Stock, 2008).