Sébastien Japrisot (4 July 1931 – 4 March 2003) was the nom de plume of Jean-Baptiste Rossi, novelist, screenwriter, and director. I only know him for one of his later works, although he published his first novel when only 17 and had a long, active career. He started publishing under Japrisot (an anagram of his own name) in 1962 when he ventured into a new genre, the mystery thriller. The 10.30 from Marseille was a huge success and was turned into a film featuring the top stars of the day. Other crime novels followed, for which he won the Grand Prix de Littérature policière, Le Prix d’Honneur, the Crime Writer’s Association Silver Dagger award, and the Prix Interallié. Obviously, I’ve got some catch-up reading to do!
The film and book for which I know him is Un long dimanche de fiançailles, or A very long Engagement in English. It’s the story of young sweethearts separated by World War I and Mathilde’s quest to find out the truth about Manech’s reported death. She is totally convinced that she would know in her bones if he were dead and remains faithful to him. I won’t spoil the ending for you. This book was the subject of a 2004 film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, featuring Audrey Tautou, of Amélie fame. Also in that movie was the superb and bilingual Jodie Foster who played a French woman who worked at a food stall at Les Halles in central Paris.
Today’s expression, loin des yeux, loin du coeur, (luhwah daysyuh luhwah due cur) literally means “far from the eyes, far from the heart.” We would say “out of sight, out of mind.” This was exactly the opposite of what happened in Japrisot’s touching story of enduring love during a time of insanity. I highly recommend both the book and film to you.