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I really hated the arrogance of some people. My only desire was to do things that were orthogonal to what these guys were doing. This implied being as far from algebraic geometry as one could be. GBK Did you ever go to the IHES during the Grothendieck’s time? C Not at that time mostly because from the distance it looked like such an arrogant group. After all these years I finally took the time to read Grothendieck’s book “recoltes et semailles” and this allowed me to really understand his personality much better.

After that year I started working on my own research. GBK You didn’t have to take courses? C I didn’t go to any classes and didn’t know where the university was, so when I had to take the exam my friend had to take me to the exam room and I saw the university for the first time! GBK So it was a leisure time! C No, it was not leisure it was freedom, it was some kind of reaction against the preparatory schools in which we were taught recipes to pass exams. I just wanted to think quietly by myself and enjoy life of course, and that was given to us in Ecole Normale.

GBK Did you ever go to the IHES during the Grothendieck’s time? C Not at that time mostly because from the distance it looked like such an arrogant group. After all these years I finally took the time to read Grothendieck’s book “recoltes et semailles” and this allowed me to really understand his personality much better. I realized that behind this arrogant appearance there lies the most admirable human being and I regretted not to have had the chance to talk to him. In fact the correspondence between Grothendieck and Serre is available in print and it is a marvelous testimony of their power and personalities.

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An interview with Alain Connes by Connes A.


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