Can you get the corona virus from a mosquito bite?

It gets warmer, the windows are open and then we have to wait for the first mosquito injections. In this corona time, the question arises: can we catch the corona virus from a mosquito prick? Sander Koenraadt, insect virus expert at Wageningen University provides an answer.

“No, that is very unlikely,” he says to Omroep Gelderland. “No research has been done yet, but based on what we do know about the virus and how it spreads, it is very unlikely. It is really just not possible. “

Coronavirus is hardly in blood

The virus spreads through small droplets when coughing and sneezing and is hardly present in the blood that the mosquitoes absorb, Koenraadt says.

“And even if the mosquito were to absorb a little bit of blood that might contain the coronavirus, it is a continuous pathway for the virus in the stomach of the mosquito. That’s because the virus cannot multiply in an insect. ”

There are other viruses that can be transmitted by mosquitoes. “It is a completely different group of viruses.” Koenraadt mentions the Zika virus as an example. So a mosquito can be annoying, but we need not fear that it will spread the coronavirus, the expert said.

Listen to the conversation with Sander Koenraadt.

Also see:


The botanical boom: put a garden in your life


“The gardens not only stimulate our desire to inhabit a better world, but also our escapist fantasies,” says Santiago Beruete inJardinosofa(Turner). Published in 2016, this“philosophical history of gardens”became the firsthiteditorial aboombotanist who in recent times has garnered other titles such asThe Prado garden(Espasa) by Eduardo Barba, a tour of the flora of 43 Madrid museum masterpieces, orThe Forgotten Plants Book

To continue reading, go Premium

Already Premium?Login


Launching offer

after7.99 €

According to the criteria of

The Trust Project

Know more


Blur spots persist in the portrait of the virus

Never has a new virus been the subject of as much research, studies, analyzes as SARS-CoV-2 in such a short time. But if information has accumulated since the end of 2019, essential questions remain to try to understand what the planet is facing. At first, we imagined that it was only a simple coronavirus, like the others: a little pathogenic, fairly contagious, but relatively manageable. Everything exploded. From an infectious pathology, clinicians have discovered that it is transformed and becomes an immune pathology, even later a cardiac one. And the Covid-19 surprises with its mysteries, with more than 80% of people infected without any real manifestation, 20% with more or less important symptoms, of which 5% will go to intensive care. These proportions, for several weeks, have hardly changed. But what about the rest? Of its transmission? New symptoms? Healthy carriers? These questions still do not have complete answers. “It’s like an iceberg, we only see and we can only understand the emerged part”, tells us a member of the Scientific Council. Overview, as France begins its fifth week of containment.

How is the virus transmitted?

Friday, April 3, Anthony Fauci, director of the United States Institute of Infectious Diseases and member of the White House task force, relayed by President Donald Trump, sowed a global stir. Can the Covid be transmitted “When people are just talking”, as this respected scientist claims? “Everything takes on incredible proportions when Trump opens his mouth”, quipped Professor Xavier Lescure, an infectious disease specialist at Bichat Hospital. “An American study certainly mentioned transmission by too close discussion but if this were the case, we would have a basic reproduction rate (RO) of the coronavirus close to that of measles, smiles Karine Lacombe, head of the infectious diseases department at Saint-Antoine hospital. Clearly, each infected person could contaminate 10. We are far from it. For experts, the RO rate of Covid-19, without confinement, is rather between 2 and 3. ” Professor Lacombe insists: “The contamination is mainly done by the droplets, the cough, the sneezing, the hand-held contacts.” If the Director General of Public Health, Jérôme Salomon, also mentions contact with inert surfaces, this point remains under debate. Karine Lacombe: “On inert surfaces, we remain questionable.” Xavier Lescure, careful: “Inert surfaces are a real hidden trap, probably the forgotten link in contact transmission.”

Contagious from when and for how long?

This is a crucial point to break the dynamics of the epidemic. When and for how long should patients be isolated to stop the spread of the virus? In this area, knowledge is becoming more precise. In a study published recently in Nature, German researchers have shown that if there were traces of the virus in the patient’s larynx seven days after the onset of symptoms, the pathogen did not replicate. “It means the person is no longer contagious, says Professor Lacombe. There is a consensus that an infected person can be contagious one to two days before symptoms appear, and for seven to ten days after. “

There remains the question of healthy carriers, about 30% of all infected. As they do not cough or sneeze, their contagiousness is estimated to be very low. But it is not necessarily zero to believe the first results of an Inserm survey of 300 patients, launched in January after the first cases in Contamines-Montjoie, in Haute-Savoie: the postillions and nasal excretions of the asymptomatic contain viral particles capable of infecting other people.

What are the symptoms ?

The range of Covid-19 symptoms has unfortunately grown significantly since its arrival in Europe. If a dry cough, with fever and fatigue are the most common signals, others, which had not been reported by the Chinese, have confused infectious diseases. “It’s a shock, we didn’t see it coming, says Professor Gilles Pialoux, infectious disease specialist at Tenon Hospital. The coronavirus is the cause of neurological disorders. In some cases, this results in loss of taste and smell. Above all, 88% of patients in intensive care have neurological manifestations, cognitive disorders: they are disturbed, confused. ” A geriatrician from the Pompidou hospital: “If in most cases these symptoms disappear spontaneously after seven to ten days, we still do not know the degree of recovery of the elderly, sometimes already fragile.”

Another surprise, “For six weeks, we have seen acrosyndromes, pseudo-frostbite at the extremities of the limbs”, reports Professor Lescure. This is cause for concern enough for the National Union of Dermatologists and Venerologists to launch an alert on April 8 for skin manifestations linked to Covid-19 infection – acrosyndromes, sudden onset of persistent, sometimes painful redness and temporary hives lesions.

Who is at risk?

Since the publication on February 24 of a large study by the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the profile of severely ill patients has been clarified. Professor Pialoux: “What strikes me is that patients admitted to intensive care are often diabetic, overweight or even obese.” A finding shared by all the hospitals that receive Covid-19 patients, French and European. And this is a real surprise because the first Chinese ascents only documented “classic” risk factors, such as age and the presence of comorbidities (high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, pulmonary insufficiency, severe diabetes, etc.)

For the past two weeks, research work has confirmed clinical observations. A study published in late March in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Italian researchers, involving 955 deceased patients, established that 35% were diabetic. “We thought that only severe diabetics were concerned. Not at all, small diabetics are too. We have even discovered diabetes during hospitalization ”, points to Professor Lescure.

1er April, a new Chinese study published in The Lancet confirmed the role of the body mass index: out of 383 coronavirus patients admitted to a hospital in Shenzhen, 42% were overweight or obese. Researchers conclude: overweight people have an 86% chance of developing a severe form of Covid-19. Those who suffer from obesity have “Showed a 2 to 42 times higher probability of developing severe pneumonia” than other patients. The danger is real even for young patients: “Obesity is often the only risk factor for patients under 50 years of age in intensive care in Bichat”, says Professor Lescure. What confirms Professor Lila Bouadma, resuscitator at Bichat Hospital : “We have patients, young people, who were in perfect health, with only one weight problem.” A phenomenon that has not yet been elucidated. “Maybe it’s due to the fat cells that let the virus pass more easily”, wonders Karine Lacombe. It is also possible that being overweight amplifies the inflammatory reactions induced by the presence of the coronavirus in the body.

Another characteristic of heavily affected patients, which was already reported in the first Chinese study, caught infectious disease specialists short: gender inequality. “The coronavirus infects men and women in the same proportions but 80% of our intensive care patients are men”, notes Professor Lescure. This difference in resistance between the two sexes is not elucidated. Assumptions flourish. Researchers are particularly interested in the role of an enzyme (ACE2 installed on the X chromosome), essential in the production of estrogen, known for its anti-inflammatory influence.

How is the infection going?

The pattern is often repeated identically. In one in five cases, Covid-19 infection requires hospitalization for respiratory distress. A majority of these severely affected patients then have severe pneumonia with bilateral involvement, according to the WHO. Respiratory support is not always enough to overcome the infection. About seven days after the first symptoms appear, some patients suddenly get worse, with an inflammatory over-reaction of the immune system, known as the “cytokine storm”. However, this runaway can be fatal: instead of defending the body against inflammation, cytokines destroy not only infected cells but also healthy tissue in the lungs, heart or kidneys. Assessment: 20% of severe forms of Covid-19 have heart damage linked to the immune reaction. Professor Lacombe: “Compared to the first few weeks, the change is spectacular. We are facing an immunological disease much more than viral as we might have thought. It’s new. ” Professor Pialoux completes: “Like the first Chinese death on French soil, 10% of intensive care patients die not from the coronavirus directly but from pulmonary complications and sometimes pulmonary embolism. Such vascular complications have never been seen with influenza or SARS. “

Professor Lescure summarizes: “Clinical observation has allowed us to identify three sides of the disease. The first is infectious, viral. But in a certain number of serious patients, the inflammatory aspect becomes preponderant after the runaway of the immune system. The last side is vascular: the disease causes microvascular damage, thrombosis, which is supposed to be linked to inflammation, without being certain. “

When are you immunized and for how long?

This is a key point, and of particular interest to the High Scientific Council, currently mobilized on possible scenarios of deconfinement. In this area, he must do with good news, very bad news and a lot of uncertainty.

The good news first. According to a study by German researchers on the replication of the virus in the upper respiratory tract published in Nature 1er April, patients begin to produce antibodies seven to fourteen days after the first symptoms appear, and their viral load slowly decreases. “We think these antibodies are neutralizing, and therefore protect against re-infection, says Professor Lescure. It is a clinical hypothesis, not scientific certainty. But apart from a few cases reported in China at the start of the epidemic, which may have been only false positives, no one has seen any cases of reinfection. “

Next is the big tile. According to the modellers of the High Council, the French are not more than 10 to 15% to have been in contact with the virus until now, including in areas with high incidence such as the Grand-Est or the Ile-de -France. And this projection is undoubtedly still optimistic: the test campaign launched in the cluster of Oise concluded with a collective immunity of hardly more than 7%… In any case, we are very far from the rate of 60% of protected persons, floor threshold to claim this “group immunity” which would ward off the risk of a second wave of Covid-19. “In terms of public health, this is very problematic, confirms Xavier Lescure. A brutal lifting of containment would inevitably revive the epidemic. “. But too late, the problem could get worse. Because if a healed individual is immune, it is not known for how long …

Eric Favereau


Nathalie Raulin


From calligrapher to shepherdess, a capital conversion

To change life. Who hasn’t dreamed of it. The act rarely follows the petted thought. Florence Robert became a calligrapher and became a shepherdess. And not anywhere: she dreamed from a very young age of living in these Corbières wedged between sea and plain. The meeting with a beekeeper near Lagrasse (Aude), Jean Poudou, convinced her of this place of election. The decision has become concrete to take a sharp turn, you have to relearn humility and start learning again. This is how the ex-calligrapher once checked the “Sheep-meat” box on the agricultural training registration form. Why this box? The images that we cultivate in ourselves sometimes push the act, and she wanted “Large expanses of solitude, a little harsh, but which confirm the gesture with animals and the wind”. She wanted to raise sheep in the Corbières to reopen the scrub scrub for the benefit of biodiversity.

We could have a slight moment of retreat. The recycling stories in perpendicular mode are like pleasant bluettes, built in a chronology without surprise. Their possible strength consists in tickling the empathy of the reader, who is inhabited by similar desires for retraining and moving happy ends. The shepherdess or shepherdess participates in addition to the iconic pastoral, the townspeople in reverse rural exodus from a militant and ecological return to the land. But there is no desire here to convince, nor self-aggrandizement. Beyond the progressive knowledge of the profession, a form of struggle against the elements, fatigue and discouragement, Florence Robert brings to her journey a reflection on space and time, on the poetry of these harsh landscapes and the exaltation of the senses (1).

Livestock. After eight weeks of training spread over eight months on the farm of Denis and Françoise Callamand, a few kilometers from Lagrasse, the time has come to take the plunge: that of finding a spot to anchor. It will be the small village of Albas, interested in a herd and his talent as a natural brushcutter. This terroir, renowned for its wines, olive oil and onions, had nearly a million sheep’s heads a hundred and fifty years ago. The animals disappeared in the 70s, in favor of the vine. They are a dozen breeders today in the dry Corbières, goats and sheep combined. It’s a “A little crazy adventure” than installing sheep “Where they disappeared forty years ago, in a viticultural landscape in the midst of a crisis, in one of the driest areas of France”. And there is no one left to ask questions about the secrets of the trade. Where to graze and when? How to promote the aphyllante, the small blue flower that promotes fattening of sheep?

We feel a little lonely, the apprentice shepherdess, in front of the magnitude of the task. Before the arrival of the woolly faces, it is necessary to consolidate the frame, find a source of water, bank guarantees, build an investment plan, recruit border collies dogs, then also patous … Fourteen months after having checked “Sheep -meat ”, on August 30, the bleating of lacaune, gregarious race accustomed to be kept every day, arrive at the Garrigues farm. “A hundred sheep to start with, it’s a small flock.” Small, but one should not lose a crumb in the wild and thorny nature, rich in lavender, thyme, rosemary, sarsaparilla, but also in poisonous essences (common ferrule, daphné garou, cameleon with red fruits). The herd is a wave to be channeled constantly, using dogs led by an inexperienced mistress whose attention is still not sharp enough to anticipate the speed of going to graze elsewhere.

Protrusion period. “Denis said to me once:” The most beautiful is the guard. It is for the guard that one is a shepherd. “” The maxims of the one who formed it punctuate his initiation like mantras. When the others are enjoying the holidays, you have to get up before dawn to move the herd at 6 am and not finish the day until 10 pm. Daily, imperatively, the sheep must eat and drink. The old needs, relaxation, leisure, consumption, then seem very secondary. It’s another mode, another way of looking at time, space, and another way of feeding those many inner chicks who keep crying out. The assignment is clear, deprivation goes without saying, what would we be burdened with? The shepherd is an elementary being. “ The question of time, again and again. That of the garrigue flows differently, without the tyranny of needles. In tune with animals and nature. “I learn to read the shape of the clouds, to read the time there. I learn that the hill is precise up to the blade of grass, and from far away I recognize the stone that serves as my seat, the frame where the hare was hiding the day before yesterday. “

The breeding cycle has its culminating events: the mating period in November (two rams are left five weeks with these ladies), the gestation of five months, births from the end of March. The first lambing (“What I do best”) will bring an additional 160 heads. “What is going on is neither sweet, beautiful, nor violent. It is inexpressible, it is beyond, quite close to the mystery without doubt. “ A kind of in-between, between life and death, between joy and urgency, patience and despair. Learn on the job to plaster a broken leg, to prick in the muscles of the neck, to leave the affective on the edge.

Ten years later, the voice has grown stronger. And she also took on a sober tone. The first faithful dogs are dead. He had to stop looking after his flock after three years and make up his mind to employ someone to do it, then switch to mountain pasture during the hot season. But isn’t that the best lesson of knowing how to welcome your own renunciations after having struggled? Shape her personality as a shepherdess. “By changing your life, you have to rebuild your head, and for months, the fatigue will have been that one, that of regularly reworking the arrangement of well-established beliefs, to cross out some of them, to weigh all the others to the yardstick of another inventory, of a new world, earthly, absolutely solid, horribly demanding. ”

(1) Also just published: He was a shepherdess by Yves Deloison and Stéphanie Maubé, ed. Rouergue, 256 pp., € 18.80 (ebook: € 13.99).

Frédérique Roussel

Florence Robert Shepherdess of the hills Corti “Biophilia”, 200 pp., € 18.


De Leone de Natura: “We stop producing perfumes and makeup to adapt to a greater demand” | Business Opening

Just a month before the Government declared total and mandatory quarantine, Diego de Leone, Natura’s number one in Argentina since 2016, was promoted to VP of the brand for the entire region in a company that stopped being called as its iconic label to become a group, Natura & Co (Natura, The Body Shop, Aesop and Avon). Thus, he is in charge of six countries that, of course, do not include Brazil, a unit that represents almost 20% of company turnover.

His year started hectic, to his new position was added the closing purchase of Avon and the beginning of an integration process although each brand will continue to operate separately. Thus, the coronavirus encountered the company with its own challenges.

“A little over a year ago we had already been working on committees or agile teams one global, others regional and other multi-areas. Precisely, the idea of ​​these squads was or is to identify opportunities and where to accelerate the strategies. And when situations like these happen, multidisciplinary and multi-geographic work teams are automatically assembled to focus on Covid, ”says the executive.

-This situation forced them to convert …

Look also

Calls for the wine cellars to be exempted from quarantine and to lift the ban on the sale of wine in 50 municipalities, in addition to other tax measures


-Yes, what we did was adapt our proposal to a greater demand. And we were accompanying the announcements of the governments in the different countries. In the case of Argentina, we went through the first week of total quarantine without operating and the following week we restricted our portfolio to hygiene and essential care products: soaps, liquid soap. And we were transforming our manufacturing, this throughout Latin America, from what we typically produced as perfumes, makeup to basic necessities such as, in addition to soaps, 70% alcohol and gel alcohol.

-Did you stop producing perfumes and makeup for the moment?

-Yes, at the moment we are not producing. And we allocate that capacity to basic necessities.

-Did that conversion require any investment?

-No, no investment is required, the lines were adapted to new products that are considered essential activities.

-You have a particular business model and your consultants, as independent entrepreneurs see their income diminished today, are you doing something about it?

-Natura comes from several years of strong growth, well above the market, growing even when the market contracts. And we were already prepared, not for a pandemic, but for an evolution in the way of relating with our sales force. We had launched many ways to connect with them digitally, we had developed an online sales model, a very particular model, where the same consultants sell through their page that lives within the Natura site. And the company provides the backoffice service: it delivers the products to its clients, it helps with the collection process, payment that goes for them.

This platform was not as relevant in our business as a percentage of the total, but now it has become very relevant and there are more and more consultants who are looking for ways to keep their business running.

– Do you have quantified the fall that this situation means?

-This takes 15 days, some of which were holidays, which is too recent to quantify the decline they have been experiencing. We do see that the orders that are taking place today are smaller.

What we did, in the case of online sales, was to double the profit margin of the consultancies that use this channel. That means an important plus that, in some way, helps them compensate. However, we are aware that their volume of business surely fell because they have a smaller portfolio and the consumption of families dropped a lot.

-Is using that platform a decision of each consultant?

-Yes, it is their decision. In fact, the last number I have seen before all this began was more than 50,000 registered to market products online, out of 200,000 consultants that we have in the country. Now I don’t know the number, but online sales did grow a lot. In some countries, it has already doubled in the past three weeks. Even with a portfolio that is very restricted.

That is why, also through our sales force, 350 supervisors who are employees of the company, we propose training, development, talks with consultants that still today have not joined online sales. We are taking advantage of this moment to develop those capabilities across the network. At the same time, we also explore the possibility that, without having to completely transform into online sales, they can place their orders and that they can be delivered directly to their consumers. We are exploring all the alternatives at our disposal to accompany them as well as possible.

-And how does this continue with a very resentful economy?

-As well as we have agile teams that are working on how to navigate this period, we have the same number of teams thinking, when this situation ends, how to accelerate that return, especially thinking of the consultants and their families and the consumers who chose the brand. We want to be prepared to, the day after each stage that the government decides, give the best value proposition for that specific moment.

-Natura came with strong growth, in 2019 10.2% in Latam …

-Yes. And in Argentina, I cannot give the number, but much more than that. We had significant growth in real terms. In a context where consumption was falling. In fact, in the first quarter of the year, consumption fell by around 4% and we had managed to grow. We got well into this situation.

-And now, what is the expectation?

-This year is going to be an atypical year but we have gone through many crises throughout our history. It is one more challenge.

-You had specific projects for this year, are you still standing?

-No project we have is canceled. Yes, they take a bit of time due to the same operational impossibility of carrying them out. For example, the proposal to make perfume packaging with 30% recycled glass that was intended for the middle of the year. We also have in our portfolio a new brand of products for hair, Lumina.

– They were studying the possibility that The Body Shop and Aesop arrive in Argentina?

-The pandemic, what we are going through will last a while and will leave its aftermath but it will happen. And yes, it was part of what we were exploring, we had no definitions taken yet.

-How is the integration with Avon being implemented?

-The Avon thing was announced in January and until then we had no contact. From there we begin to work together, to get to know each other, to learn how we can leverage each other and after 30 days or a little more we start with this context. Which, if it had something good, is that it helped us as a group to make a mega integration: to get to know each other better, face these moments together, understand and share good practices

-Aren’t the consultants going to sell Natura and Avon products?

-The consultants are free, they are independent businesswomen who decide which brands to sell. And in fact there are already some that sell both brands and others too.

-But, aren’t they going to have a joint catalog?

-No, it’s not the idea. We will have separate brand value proposition, sales force and business management, separate brand marketing too.

-They will compete …

-In practice, they are competitors that work in the same market, although the positioning of the two brands is very different and the publics to which both brands speak are also different: Natura is positioned as an accessible prestige, that is, it is in the Premium segment, while Avon is in a lower price segment.

Although all this, you can imagine, is in the process of being redefined.


Interview with Josef H. Reichholf: City dwellers are the salvation for the country

WORLD: In the garden we take care of the biomass like our treasure. Nothing is given to garbage disposal. Decompost the leaves of autumn, the tree and plant pruning is chopped or piled up for the Easter fire to finally drive away the winter and produce precious ashes for fertilizing. Neighbors in the village talk about toil and “dirt”. Aren’t urbanites really the salvation for the sometimes heartless country?

Josef H. Reichholf: I have held this hope until the very end. Agriculture has become far more alienated from living nature than the city, which is only a landscape element far from nature. In many, probably in the vast majority of gardens, what is lost from industrialized agriculture is practiced, the circular economy, which produces practically no waste, which has to be disposed of somewhere and mostly in a highly problematic way. And the townspeople are in the majority. You can and should set the standard.


“DEVS”, at the fractal stage

Too much to do with it in his almost obsessive demonstration of the interweaving of things, beings, death and the living, the mini-series techno-thriller of Alex Garland leaves a taste of roughly. .

Largest protein connection map contains clues to health and disease




The human body is made up of billions of cells, each of which is manufactured and maintained through countless interactions between its different molecular. But,which interactions maintain health and which can cause illness when they go wrong? The human genome project has provided a ‘parts list’ for the cell, but only if we can understand how these parts come together or interact, can we really begin to understand how the cell works and what goes wrong in disease.

To answer these questions, scientists needed a reference map of interactions, an interactome, between genes-encoded proteins that make up cells and do most of the work on them.

Research published today in the journal « Nature»It allows us to understand how proteins connect with each other and how they interact at a molecular level with other proteins to constitute the cellular machines that carry out the different functions in our body. The map will help to better understand all the processes that occur in our cells and the molecular basis of life processes.

“Since the mid-1990s, our team has promoted the idea that interactome maps can illuminate fundamental aspects of life,” explains the researcher from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston (USA), Marc Vidal, coordinator of the study in which the group of Javier De Las Rivas, from the CIC-IBMCC Cancer Research Center of Salamanca.

The map will help to better understand all the processes that occur in our cells and the molecular basis of vital processes

“Our article describes the first reference map of the human interactome, which constitutes a ‘scaffolding ‘of information to better understand how faulty genes cause diseases like cancer, but also how viruses like the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 interact with their human host proteins »Vidal points out.

Since proteins are the essence of the molecular machinery of our organism, when damage or mutations occur in the genetic material that encodes them, these affect their functions, becoming the cause of the development of many diseases.

The importance of this reference map of the human interactome, where the interaction of human proteins is captured, It is similar to a detailed road and route map that allows identifying the points to intervene to guarantee the security of communications.

The interaction between proteins is key to unveil, for example, targets that allow the development of drugs that stimulate lost relationships or block certain pathological relationships.

In this sense, this understanding of the interaction between proteins is key to uncovering, for example, targets that allow the development of drugs that stimulate lost relationships or block certain pathological relationships. The map of the human interactome can also be compared with the Facebook of human proteins, since it is a complex relational map that indicates which ‘friends’ each protein is related to; generating a complex galaxy of connections that relieves and shows specific affinities and functionalities.

Although the largest map of its kind to date, it remains incomplete, accounting for between 2 and 11 percent of all human protein interactions. Despite these limitations, it will serve as an important resource for the research community.


Paris-Calcutta, ultrasonic journey – Culture / Next

There is a lot of talk about bats right now. One of them would have contributed to the mutation of the virus which, by killing some, may allow others, perhaps not, to increase the hours of reading. Roshan, an academic from Calcutta, finds one when he arrives at his office, which surprises him: “It was not uncommon to see thousands of them in the city, at nightfall, hanging on the trees, along the avenues and along the Hooghly river. And even more in the Bengali countryside, in the barns, the temples. But in a university office, it was less trivial. The building was closed and air conditioned. How did this beast get there? Did she take cover because of the rain? ” Roshan knows, in any case, “That a single bat bite or scratch, or a simple contact with a food contaminated by it, could transmit nipah, a very disabling hemorrhagic fever, sometimes fatal”. Above all, do not touch it. As she reads a study, “The blind mammal began to beat a portion of the wall with its wing. Her very active radar had to emit ultrasonic waves in Roshan’s direction sufficiently precise to inform her of the distance at which she was exactly, also telling him what micro-movements the reading caused in a body. ” This is the art of Célia Houdart: it emits sufficiently precise waves, from one end to the other of a place and of the Earth, to feel and restore atmospheres, micro-movements, correspondences, on the surface of consciousness and skin. It’s a bat. His descriptions, his perceptions, animate the story and make it fly.

“Limestone body”

The Scribe takes place alternately in Paris and Calcutta. Roshan and Manoj’s son Chandra is a young mathematician. He moved to Paris, where he was recruited by the Henri-Poincaré Institute. This institute was directed by Cédric Villani. In the novel, it is directed by a woman named Françoise Stern. The young Indian’s maid’s room is in an old and splendid building on Saint Louis Island. Its owners, the Kowalski, are eccentric Poles who, beneath their austere exterior, turn out to be friendly and open. Aunt of Mme Kowalski comes from a family who alerted the West during the war to the plight of Jewish children in Siberia. A Maharajah saved them, and they made the journey from nothing to Bombay. The characters in the book are noble souls. Their access to the world is meticulous, conscientious, full of fantasy and without meanness. Chandra’s new companions are an American from Milwaukee, a Russian who listens to rock, both mathematicians, and the one who will become her friend, Margot. They will make love in the smell of samosas that he has prepared for a long time in his attic; but the deed is not written. Célia Houdart spares situations which could weigh them down: she stops at the door, before the gestures or the words that would spin her tapestry; that would make her claw and bleed what she perceives, touches. Everything is description, suggestion, speed. A prose in ultrasound.

The scribe is Chandra. Margot called him that the day he arrived home and found him sitting cross-legged among his papers. Consequence: he went to see the one in the Louvre. At dusk, Chandra “Observed the scribe once again with his round nipples like buttons. Her hair short. His fingers with tapered knuckles. Chandra tried to imagine his standing height and the weight of his head. Limestone body in a glass cage. At that moment a ray of sunshine was seen. The large dial and the caryatids of the Clock Pavilion were reflected in the window like a prism. Visitors in trekking attire stopped in front of this Egyptian, simply dressed in a piece of cloth rolled up at the waist. Night was falling, darkening caryatids and cobblestones outside. ” There are twenty descriptions like that, in Paris, India, and like Vermeer in the air. In Paris, most places are tourist, clichés, but these are the ones that Chandra discovers, the ones by which he enters his new life. He sees the monuments, the beauty of the quays, but also an environmental activist hit by a LBD shot and, in front of Notre-Dame that he has just visited, young Gypsies mistreated by the police.

Water treatment

In India, the descriptions fix the colors, the smells, the sensations, the threats, nature, pollution, everything that makes life so close to death, without ever taking precedence over the other. At night, Chandra calls her family by Skype. He mainly talks with his grandmother, who gets up before dawn to take care of fruits and flowers, and whom he sees growing live. Her father, Manoj, an engineer, runs a water treatment plant. His wife had discovered a bat in his office. He, one day arriving at the factory, sees a little monkey appear: “The animal – a young macaque – thought there might be something to nibble on or steal, or both. He climbed on the scraper bridge which was above the first tank. Its tail hung down, then curled, nervous, as if mounted on a spring. When the monkey soaks it in water, inadvertently or deliberately, it rises immediately, shivering. “ Manoj remembers another little monkey who, in Nepal, entered the room of the inn where he and his wife were. Very quickly, the animal had ransacked their belongings, opened the boxes of medicine and swallowed everything, before fleeing. Monkeys are like writers, if you let them in they search everywhere, take everything away, eat everything, and they can die.

A few days later, the little macaque from the factory was found dead in the tank, poisoned with arsenic. Who soiled the water? Who then sought to blow up the tank in this polluted place where water is essential? How will Chandra help her father fix it all, using mathematical models? You will see, but one thing is certain: the burial of the little monkey reminds that of the child bitten by a snake in the River, by Jean Renoir: “Manoj bought roses and three carnation necklaces from a street vendor. As during the Bengali festival of Durga Puja, where after several hours of procession in all the districts of the city, in the middle of the songs, sprinkles of water and firecrackers, one threw the effigies of the goddess in the river, Manoj and Anij Chatterjee, helped by the driver, transported the macaque lying on its bed of dead wood on the wide muddy steps. Manoj set it on fire, before gently pushing it into the water. ”

Philippe Lançon

Célia Houdart

The Scribe

P.O.L, 197 pp.,

€ 18 (ebook: € 12.99).