07 Jan GÉRARD
You must cross the garden to reach Gérard L. Khoury’s bookcase and office. The furniture and decor of the room are inspired by Gérard’s Lebanese origins. It’s a real invitation to travel and it has the feel of a cabinet of curiosities. A historian – specialist of contemporary Lebanon’s origins – and a writer, Gérard works amongst the books. His bookcase contains two kinds of works. On one side, historical books, travelogues, archive material and research that Gérard uses to work. On the other side, the books that “feed” history: literature, anthropology, psychoanalysis and poetry. His is a specialised bookcase, but one that is open to culture, literature and the world.
Safely stored in the drawer of his big desk or framed and hung on the walls, Gérard keeps his collection of handwritten letters. Lawrence of Arabia and Lamartine are amongst their authors.
“If you can write history with a certain level of literature, transmission only gets better, as it makes it come alive” explains Gérard. Literature has indeed a role to play in his work; this is why Gérard is an enthusiastic reader of historical novels. Biographies also teach him many things; they are the best way to understand a period of time through the prism of a life. Gérard likes psychoanalysis as well, especially the work of Erich Fromm, whom he had the chance to meet and correspond with. In fact, he is reading a biography of this American psychoanalyst at the moment. And when he wants to get away from it all, he reads one of the books of poetry he always has on hand.
Gérard worked as a ceramicist for ten years. He was already a historian when he began, and he simply wanted to do something else, whilst also writing and researching. His wife accompanied him on this adventure. But this is ancient history: books now invade his former studio, next to his office, as well. From ceramics to writing there is not much difference after all: the hand and the head have to follow the same impulse. Gérard concludes: “The hand is as good for the potter’s wheel as it is for the pen”.
A FEW BOOKS TO BORROW FROM GÉRARD
The lives of Erich Fromm. Love’s Prophet by Laurence J. Friedman, Columbia University Press, 2013
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Penguin Classics
Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm, Farrar & Rinehart