Life Style

Childhood nostalgia, a source of creativity and wonder

Irremediably, the passing days take us away from childhood. And yet, this reconstructed past, filtered by the unconscious, sometimes magnified by memory, is never far away. A Proust madeleine – a word, a place, a photo, a scent, a familiar situation – is enough to summon it and with it, often, a hint of nostalgia.

→ TESTIMONIALS. The childhood that always comes back to us, for better or for worse

“I willingly assume this term, as long as its regressive dimension is removed”, says Timothée de Fombelle. What drives the writer is obviously neither the desire nor the regret of an impossible return to his prime years, to “this so-called freedom made of constraints and dependence”.

“Writing allows me to continue childhood in other ways”

No, Timothée de Fombelle sees this season more as “a vast reservoir”, from which he draws abundantly. “Writing allows me to continue childhood in other ways”testifies the author of the novels of youth to great success Tobie Lolness and Vango (1).

Timothée de Fombelle claims to draw inspiration from childhood for all his books. “I was only 13 when the idea for my latest novel came to me, Alma, dedicated to a young African girl », he assures. And when in, neverland (2), for the first time, Timothée de Fombelle does not write “at child’s height”it’s to take adults on the trail of their own childhood.


This journey woven of words and memories, the poet Roland Nadaus also undertook it. Journey to the Fourth World and a family atmosphere weighed down by a secret that would be belatedly lifted. “My dad is not my dad”he writes abruptly, at the beginning of his collection A childhood registry (3).

→ READ. A Christmas at 7 rue des Lanternes, a tale by Timothée de Fombelle for “La Croix”

Roland Nadaus only feels nostalgia for his grandparents, “wonderful people” ; for this time when he began, very young, to write poetry; for the campaign too, of which he keeps fond memories. “It’s no coincidence that, retired, I spend most of my time in my house in the Mayenne bocage”he analyzes.

For him, childhood is above all resurgence, “Like a river that suddenly disappears and reappears like a spring in a place where you least expect it”. It is also, more prosaically, this “chewing gum that sticks to (s) the soles”.

“Uncovering the secrets of the world”

Even though he came across people in public school and within the Church who enlightened his existence and helped him overcome his condition, Roland Nadaus did not “never returned” of his childhood. This does not prevent him from maintaining a fruitful, if not life-saving relationship with this part of his past life.

Whether as a trade unionist, as a politician (he was notably PS mayor of Guyancourt, in the Yvelines) or as a poet, he owes to his childhood, he believes, his “surprised, empathetic gaze, constantly seeking to unlock the secrets of the world”. A look that allowed him to move forward, despite the blows received during his career as a public man.

The spirit of childhood, at the antipodes of youthism

This is what the philosopher Roger-Pol Droit calls “the spirit of childhood”which invites you to pamper “freshness, wonder, renewal, whatever our age”. An engine of creativity and even happiness, he says. This spirit imposes itself at the antipodes of “youthism”, to which our society succumbs too easily. “A youthism which consists in privileging the state of youth under the bodily and biological aspect and which leads to grotesque attitudes of old people dreaming of being teenagers”, he quips.

→ WE’RE TALKING ABOUT IT. Childhood has no age

Unquestionably, argues Roger-Pol Droit, the spirit of childhood inhabits philosophers. “We haven’t let go of the big questions we ask ourselves when we’re young. We stick to it with rational tools, on a background of candor or persistent astonishment. »

And if there is nostalgia, it can only be “fascination, relative regret, remembrance”. A nostalgia “legitimate”, according to him, when one thinks of the intensity of the emotions which characterizes this time of the very first times. “The child is literally immersed in joy or sorrow, laughter or crying. He lives absolutely in the present, when the adult, even in moments of greatest emotional intensity, knows that there have been, that there will be other moments. »

A complicated relationship with childhood

“Whether we like it or not, consciously or not, we remain throughout life connected to our childhood. For better and for worse “, summarizes Marthe Barraco de Pinto. This clinical psychologist sees countless adults passing through her office who continue to have a complicated relationship with their childhood. “We are right to insist on what happens during the first years of life. Even if,she reassures, everyone then has a lifetime to heal their wounds and rebuild themselves. »

Childhood always comes back to us, in a more or less luminous way. And with more force at certain times in life, observes Marthe Barraco de Pinto. “When you become a parent, many things that happen in the family and the couple echo, consciously or not, our childhood experience. »

“At best, they will pretend to be great until the end”

Ditto when comes old age or illness. “We don’t become children again. But our vulnerability, the need to rely on those around us, the need to be pampered, send us back to this first stage of life.analyzes the psychologist.

Nevertheless, continues the writer Timothée de Fombelle, some adults, thinking they can draw a line under an often painful past, have broken the bond that unites them to childhood. An illusory attitude: “At best, they’ll pretend to be grown up to the end. »

→ CRITICAL. “Adulthood does not abolish childhood”: Vincent Delecroix invites us to rethink childhood

The author claims to distinguish whether the adult he has in front of him is or is not “on the same level as childhood”. Basically, naivety would be in the camp of those who, “by depriving oneself of freshness and fantasy”, imagine they can keep this other hemisphere in the shadows. And when these same adults who take themselves seriously come across a child, it is often uneasiness: “They treat him like a fragile little porcelain or a strange animal. Instead of seeing in him a concentrate of humanity. »


Childhood Quotes

“Seeds sown in childhood develop deep roots”Stephen King

“Childhood is what the world abandons to continue being the world”Christian Bobin

“Childhood is quickly worn out. To grow old is to remember one’s childhood.Thomas Bernhard

“Genius is childhood rediscovered at will”Charles Baudelaire

“I will never go back to childhood, I have always remained there”Tristan Bernard

“Wisdom sends us back to childhood”Blaise Pascal


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