Fragments of a non-existent diary III – Brissac, France

By Paulo Coelho

During my stay at a castle rented by a Brazilian magazine, a local journalist came to interview me. During the conversation, which was being watched by other people, he wanted to know:

– What is the best question a reporter has ever asked you?

The best question? I thought I’d been asked just about EVERY question, except for the one he just put. I asked for a moment to reflect, to study the many things I wanted to say but was never asked. But in the end I had to confess:

– I think it was yours. I’ve had questions I’ve refused to answer, others which allowed me to talk about interesting subjects, but yours was the only one I cannot possibly answer sincerely.

The journalist made a note, then said:

– I’ll tell you an interesting story. Once, I went to interview Jean Cocteau. His house was piled high with bibelots, paintings, drawings by famous artists, books, Cocteau kept everything, and felt a deep love for all those things. So anyway, during the interview, I decided to ask him: “if the house caught fire right now, and you could only take one thing with you, what would you choose?”

– And what did Cocteau say? – asked Alvaro Teixeira, who was in charge of the castle, and a great follower of the life of the French artist.

– Cocteau said: “I’d take the fire”.

And we sat there in silence, applauding deep down in the most intimate corners of our hearts, the brilliant reply.

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  1. Agnieszka says:

    yes…we.. should Annie…

  2. pierrot says:

    Only one big person can say that…i`m sure that he say that words with a smile…

  3. Tania says:

    Very smart man ,Cocteau . It makes me think of that nursery Rhythm Lady Beetle ,Lady Beetle fly away home your house is on fire ……
    Plus your answer was a very clever one too Paulo .Blessings Tania

  4. Agnieszka says:

    yes…we.. should Annie…

  5. luce says:

    Dear Paulo,

    In your story and the story of Cocteau somehow I’ve seen myself. When during the war (Dubrovnik, winter 1991/1992)I got permission to visit my home that was on the occupied teritory, with other people, as many as one small boat could take, under Red Cross flag I went to my home. In the linnen of my coat I have hidden camera. From the house only what I took were photoes that recorded my family from early 1900 till 1991 and my father’s original birth certificate dated 18.10.1910.
    Rest of my family that eagerly waited my return
    couldn’t believe I brought “only” that, but for me it was the most valuable thing at that time.

    Lots of love

  6. Agnieszka says:

    When you take the fire out..the rest remain the same, untouched…and the fire…will burn inside you can…go on living, dreaming, with all the enthusiasm you have since you were a little child..