the Livre Paris fair postponed for two months to the end of May

Canceled in 2020, the event scheduled to be held next March will be held from May 28 to 31, organizers said.

By Le Figaro with AFP

Cautious in the face of the evolution of the coronavirus, the organizers of Livre Paris are anticipating to avoid a new cancellation.
Cautious in the face of the evolution of the coronavirus, the organizers of Livre Paris are anticipating to avoid a new cancellation. PATRICK KOVARIK / AFP

The Livre Paris 2021 fair, which was to be held in March, has been postponed by two months to be organized from May 28 to 31, organizers announced on Friday.

«Aware of the evolution of the Covid-19 epidemic, the National Publishing Union and Reed Expositions France have decided to postpone the next edition of the show, which will be held in Paris, Porte de Versailles, from May 28 to 31“, They said in a statement.

The 2020 edition had already been canceled, a decision taken on March 1, less than three weeks before the opening, while the epidemic was progressing very quickly in France. The president of the salon Vincent Montagne then estimated that he would have been “more complex“To postpone the”general public event“Than a fair, professionals being more able to”change their dates». «We know that it is more difficult to mobilize the public on the book in summer ”. The show was to showcase India. He had announced the names of 14 Indian writers to participate in debates and conferences.

For the 39th edition of the show, in 2019, “3000 authors and 100 exhibitors from nearly 50 countriesWere gathered at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. The organizers noted “a very slight drop in attendance (-2%) in a tense context and social news“. The event was held in the midst of a protest movement against “yellow vests», With violence and looting of shops in the Champs-Élysées district.


The six novels that have catapulted the Vitorian writer to the top of literature


The saga of the old ones. The old family

The assault on the bestseller list. Iago del Castillo, a charismatic long-lived with no less than 10,300 years at the head of the Museum of Archeology of Cantabria, and Adriana Alameda, a young archaeologist who enters to work in said institution, are the protagonists of an intrigue plagued by time jumps in which fantasy and archeology serve as the impetus for the characters’ movements.


The saga of the old ones. The sons of Adam

Adriana Alameda and Iago del Castillo are once again the protagonists of the second part of this saga that has something of a Ministry of Time. “For a long-lived, the past always returns in the form of problems,” sums up the libretto. Among these conflicts, old ghosts from 16th century Ireland or 800’s Denmark take action in this novel.

The setting is colonial Tahiti and it can be said that it is the novel in which family ties and the love epic carry the greatest weight with a mystery that stresses the reading.


‘The silence of the white city’

His best known work so far and the start of a trilogy that takes place in Vitoria. Crimes ravage a city just at a time when the White festivities are being celebrated. Police officers Unai López de Ayala, ‘Kraken’, and Alba Díaz de Salvatierra are entangled in an investigation in which the murderer is closer than he seems.

The phenomenon and the edges of the characters make Sáenz de Urturi stretch the police investigations. A new challenge for ‘Kraken’ conveys the development of this second part in which the protagonists strive to search for a murderer who imitates a rite and whose victims are always people expecting a child.


‘The lords of time’

The Vitorian writer ends up composing a complex puzzle with an investigation that tells two stories in parallel and that once again resorts to historical figures such as Diago Vela, Count Don Vela, or Sancho VI el Sabio de Navarra. In this case, the murders threaten the protagonists again and ‘Kraken’ is increasingly understanding his past.


François Sureau, the genius behind the scenes at the Académie française

In Inigo, his flamboyant personal account dedicated in 2010 to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, François Sureau confided his little inclination for gold and the ostensible signs of the sacred. « Miters and chasubles have never pleased me, and all this processionary apparatus where the pride of men is delighted He wrote, expressing his admiration for Ignatius’ agreement to simplicity.

→ MEET. François Sureau, a writer facing the mystery of human destinies

Entering the Cupola, let’s hope that he doesn’t have to suffer too much from the heavy decorum of the institution – will he be allowed to smoke his pipe during sessions? In fact, the writer and lawyer can perhaps instill a little of his libertarian spirit and his taste for independence.

A free spirit

Senior civil servant, co-founder of the Pierre Claver association which supports asylum seekers, advocate for the defense of public freedoms, keen observer of society in its political, social and human operations, former officer of the Foreign Legion… François Sureau succeeds without paradox or dilution to put several feet in very dissimilar hunts.

Passe muraille, he knows how to be both an advisor to François Fillon and Emmanuel Macron, while publicly criticizing the political decisions of the same when they lack height and demand, according to him. ” Without freedom there is nothing in the world »: The sentence is from Chateaubriand, cited by François Sureau last year to title a short and incisive text (Without freedom, Tracts collection) where he warned of an urgent need to rediscover the meaning of political citizenship. In this fight, literature is more than a tool: it is a base. Thus the entry of the writer to the French Academy must be considered.

Memory and imagination

The one whose The cross regularly publishes op-eds and free reviews, after serving as a weekly columnist from 2016 to 2019, is a scholar capable of reciting classical poetry like legionary chants – his work teems with this scholarship through many winks, references , glides – and a writer who likes to escape into literary and spiritual contemplation. His latest book, The gold of time (Gallimard 2020), extracts of which appeared this summer in The cross, confirmed his stylistic ease: a peregrination along the Seine, linking to his reverie and his imagination the memory of great men attached to this river.

Passionate about Apollinaire and Simenon, François Sureau has, over the course of twenty books, shared in literature his existential and ethical questions as much as his taste for beauty and adventure. Because it is the writing, and the passion for writing that constitute the anchor and unity connecting so many facets.

In his speech at the entrance to the French Academy in 1903, his elder Edmond Rostand thus defined panache, this strange quality with which he had endowed his character of Cyrano: “ Plume is not greatness but something which is added to greatness, and which moves above it. It’s something fluttering, overdone – and a little curly. If I were not afraid of appearing in a hurry to work on the Dictionary, I would suggest this definition: panache is the spirit of bravery. Yes, it is courage so dominating the situation – let him find the word. All the Cid’s lines have panache, many of the great Corneille’s features are enormous witticisms. The wind from Spain brings us this feather; but it has assumed in the air of France a lightness of better taste. »


“Here to go elsewhere”, inventory of adventures

«SI was very interested in a story, but not the way he told it. A few minutes earlier, I had feared to be dealing with a murderer; now I was especially worried about having to deal with a shaver. ” Geoff Dyer makes this remark about what he and his wife told a young, black hitchhiker (the color of his skin weighs heavily in the aftermath of operations) they greeted on a deserted road from New Mexico. Geoff Dyer, he gives a very good account of this episode. The British writer born in 1958 has wit, a vast culture, a taste for jazz, photography, old American films, Tender is the night, Adorno and John Berger to whom he had a friendly relationship. His first-person accounts, collected in Here to go elsewhere, are never really perilous adventures that he pretends to undergo while he is the excellent organizer. He makes the most of what would remain in the state of dull plain with us, with all those who do not know how to relate the vagaries of existence.

“Green bean”. His subject matter is traveling: to the United States, where he lived, in Polynesia, in the footsteps of Gauguin, to the Forbidden City, in Norway, where he and his wife go in the hope of attending a aurora borealis that they can always wait for. When traveling, Dyer values ​​his health. He is not a backpacker and specifies that he has a silhouette of “Green bean”. The books, the music he appreciates, he quotes them in passing. He digresses, a little, never too much. Maybe he writes with this delicacy in movement because he listens to a lot of jazz? Two pages ofHere to go elsewhere are dedicated to double bassist Charlie Haden, who died in 2014. Dyer is funny and a little grumpy. He can be melancholy at times, but most of all he is eager to seize what life has to offer.

«Tee-shirt». The title of the French edition is an expression used by Dyer. It reflects the content of the book and a writer’s concern. He wishes “Trying to understand what a given place – a certain way of marking the landscape – means; what he’s trying to tell us; the reason why we are going ”. Dyer also moves figuratively by stepping sideways. Each new story is preceded by a photo, a memory or an observation. It is, for example, this anecdote about a “Boston Red Sox t-shirt that a worker mixed with the concrete that was poured to build the new Yankees stadium in the Bronx, in order to bring them bad luck.”

The whole collection is interesting, unique, amiable. But if a chapter had to be elected, it would be “Pilgrimage”. Dyer and his wife live in Venice Beach. They seek the homes of famous Europeans exiled in California to flee Nazism, such as Adorno, Schönberg or Thomas Mann. And now Dyer remembers his laborious reading of the magic mountain : “It is often said that Thomas Mann can be very funny at times, but it’s pretty hard to believe, even if he had considered the magic mountain initially as a “humorous supplement” to Death in Venice and later called it an “English humor fresco”. “

Virginie Bloch-Lainé

Geoff Dyer Here to go elsewhere Translated from English by Pierre Demarty. Editions du sous-sol, 224 pp., € 21 (ebook: € 14.99).


Mangaka Izumi Matsumoto has died at 61

With his passing, a whole generation mourns his childhood. Japanese manga author Izumi Mastumoto died at the age of 61 on Tuesday October 6 following a long illness. The mangaka was mainly known for scripting and drawing Kimagure Orange Road, better known in France for its television adaptation under the name of Max and Company.

Born in Takaoka, Japan on October 13, 1958, Izumi Mastumoto began to take a serious interest in manga from high school. In an interview with ActuaBD, he recounted his beginnings filled with doubts. “At first, I didn’t think I could be published in the Weekly Shōnen Jump since it was the most famous magazine, the most important at the time, he explains. I thought it was way too hard for a young manga artist like me, 25-26 years old

Following numerous refusals, he desperately tries his luck. “I didn’t really believe it, I thought we weren’t even going to deign to answer my call», Confessed the author.

Against all expectations, he got on very well with Toshimasa Takahashi, then deputy editor of the magazine. “He gave me very constructive comments and that’s how I came to publish in the magazine Fresh Jump then the Weekly Shōnen Jump ”he confided. In 1981, Izumi Mastumoto therefore published Live ! Tottemo Rock ‘n’ Roll in Fresh Jump. His work is also rewarded with a prize for the magazine’s new talents, which allows him to launch Milk Report in 1982.

Two years later, he published his flagship series, Kimagure Orange Road, in the Weekly Shōnen Jump. The title was an immediate success and ended in 1987 after 18 volumes published. The shōnen was adapted for Japanese television in 1987. The series also found a place in France on La Cinq, being broadcast from May 1990 under the name of Max and Company with a credits sung by Claude Lombard.

After this success, Izumi Mastumoto continues to draw on many works including Sesame Street (1988), Black Moon (1993), Shin Kimagure Orange Road (1994), or Kappa to the Teacher (1996). But in 1999, his health deteriorated. The author suffers the repercussions of a car accident in which he ended up in a coma when he was 3 years old. He decides to stop working while he understands his illness.

Five years later, doctors find that the mangaka is suffering from loss of cerebrospinal fluid. Despite a few projects, Izumi Mastumoto drastically reduced her productivity, drawing a few collections of illustrations. On Tuesday, October 6, the author passed away peacefully in his sleep.


Günter de Bryun is dead: chronicler of German sensitivities

De Bruyn described life in the GDR with subtle irony and subtle humor. Now the writer has died at the age of 93.

Günter de Bruyn in his home in Brandenburg Photo: Patrick Pleul / dpa

BERLIN dpa | He is considered one of the most important chroniclers of German-German sensitivities, quiet and incorruptible: Günter de Bryun. Chancellor Angela Merkel recommended the author to read for young people who want to get a realistic picture of everyday life in the GDR. Now the native of Berlin, who had lived in Brandenburg for a long time, died at the age of 93. This was announced by the Oder-Spree district, citing the family.

“Her life’s work is a great gift to Germany as a cultural nation,” said the Chancellor once at a gala for the 80th birthday of the multiple award-winning author. There is subtle irony and subtle humor with which Günter de Bruyn describes the living conditions in the SED dictatorship in his novels. At the same time, he takes up the great old themes of love and betrayal, power and powerlessness. He later accompanied the upheaval of 1989 and the laborious convergence of East and West in critical essays.

His best-known novel is the masterful love triangle “Buridan’s Esel” (1968), in which a complacent librarian cannot choose between two women. Defa brought the work to the screen under the title “Glück im Hinterhaus” based on a script by Ulrich Plenzdorf.

In “Preisverleihung” (1972) he skewers the peculiarities of the GDR cultural scene in an elegant and entertaining way. And “Neue Herrlichkeit” (1984) accompanies a young man in the conflict between adjustment and rebellion, duty and inclination. De Bruyn has always resisted the label of the GDR writer. “I am a German author living in the GDR,” he always emphasized. Since 1970 his works have also appeared in the West. The fact that he stayed in the shadow of Eastern literary greats such as Christa Wolf, Stefan Heym or Heiner Müller was due to his self-chosen role as a “silent outsider”.

From the “hollow path” to the “wood path”

Born on November 1, 1926 in Berlin and raised in isolation due to health problems, he had to enlist as a soldier in 1943 and sustained a head injury from shrapnel. After the war he first worked as a librarian before settling down as a freelance writer.

His first novel “Der Hohlweg” (1963) was still strongly oriented towards the ideological guidelines of the communist system. Later he withdrew it as a “wrong way” and increasingly developed his skeptical view of the conditions in the workers ‘and peasants’ state. In 1976 he was one of the signatories of the letter against the expatriation of the songwriter Wolf Biermann. A few years later he caused a stir when he called for the lifting of censorship in the GDR at a German-German writers’ congress. In 1989 he turned down the GDR National Prize – with reference to the regime’s “rigidity, intolerance and inability to dialogue”.

After the fall of the SED dictatorship, in his two autobiographies, “Zwischenbilanz” (1992) and “Forty Years” (1996), he relentlessly and self-critically provided information about his life between walking along and distance. He said that he “publicly questioned his own behavior like no other GDR author” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

There he had reported from his own words – even that was an exception – that he had once entered into a conversation with the Stasi. All the more, he felt the fall of the wall as one of the happiest moments of his life, albeit with a good deal of sadness. “It’s too late for you, now you’re too old,” noted the then 63-year-old.

From then on he concentrated primarily on essayistic and literary works, often on the history of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For decades he lived in Görsdorf in Brandenburg (Oder-Spree district). “It is correct that I have long adhered to the idealistic idea that the concentrated good will somehow defeat the bad,” he once said in a life balance. “I laboriously trained it off myself late.”


The power to remain cautious (

Günter de Bruyn

Photo: dpa / Patrick Pleul

Strange: the more gentle can be attracted by a hardened contour. Strange: The sensitive man develops nerves for a soldier-like order. Fascinating: The shy man goes into the atmosphere of the polished, noble presentation. Because: Günter de Bruyn – a seclusion esthete, a Berlin-Brandenburg small luck storyteller – has become a precise, brilliant chronicler and portraitist of Prussian elites in the last years of his life. From novelist to poetic documentarist. The turn to the royal – a metamorphosis with style and meaning (“Die Finckensteins”, “Preussens Luise”, “Als Poetry good”).

This closeness adventure, entirely from the past, was a step with a strong signal. Because de Bruyn suffered from the German present, he suffered from his own fate, from East Elbian lack of freedom – he was able to compensate for this lack of freedom through honestly critical storytelling in the GDR and about the GDR, but this difficult, observed freedom was never his real happiness experience, and so looking back into the past offered itself as a way out. Exile by writing.

The years of publication of the Prussian books taken seriously: It happened after 1990 – the departure from the German reality. The writer thus seemed like someone who called the 18th or 19th century to consciously shift his own experience into a demanding non-simultaneity. That classic model, that all subjectivity is first and foremost freedom and self-determination of the will – it lives in de Bruyn’s books, it was part of the development of his personal balance sheet in unloved societies: to be irredeemably alien. And stay that way. Essays also tell this, quietly admonishing (“cheers, funeral chants”, “German conditions”, “untimely”).

“Offside” is the name of his book about the adopted home of Brandenburg. Notes from a Brandenburg way of existence that sought a truth in Arcadian – beyond participation in the obligatory peak business hours. Even when he wrote about his hometown Berlin, Fontane was closer to him than Döblin, for example. This author de Bruyn was never one of those strong self-assertions and leather skins that political rationalism needs, which has justifying explanations and narcotic techniques for all vicissitudes of political topicality. No, he was tossed to and fro by the interplay of certainties and doubts, and it was never really a game, the conflict between self-confidence and hesitation ran through him, he always struggled with the difficult separation of his own and externally controlled instincts and wills.

He subsequently rejected the novel Der Hohlweg, which he published in 1963, as an aberration in socialist realism. He wrote compellingly detailed, unagitated autobiographies (“Interim Balance Sheet”, “Forty Years”), but after publication admitted frankly that he had “not revealed himself deeply and openly enough”. The tried-and-true vocabulary is quickly ready for something like this: cowardly, waiting, inconsistent – but alas: requests to speak from defiance of ideology.

Günter de Bruyn turned down the GDR National Prize in October 1989, and after the end of the state he had to discover that he had been led as an informant for the State Security without ever having signed. But he had not categorically rejected recruitment attempts and had information extracted from him; in his own words it was the “tragedy of failure.” Never again, as de Bruyn wrote in the FAZ in 1993, “I will speak credibly of dignity and decency, and will never again be able to judge others. And after this act of repression, which did not erase the memory of my failure, but colored it in my favor, I will always be suspicious of myself … To answer the question of how an unloved dictatorship lasted for so long was able to hold, it is time to point to myself. ”Words to kneel in. Because there are still other mouths against this faltering, their rattling forward clinking undimmed, as if they did not know what guilt and error and admission is.

De Bruyn was born in 1926: from school to the flak, and this time created oppressive portrayals: “The moment the shot roars, I recognize the student’s faces under the age masks and know for sure that we are still there, never have been released, never be released, that we age in uniform … «From the war in the country, from the teaching staff to the library. The place of books as an early escape and at the same time a gateway to the world. The librarian becomes the freelance writer who enjoys public recognition, but who fears that it can tame and thus undermine self-respect. Hereditary Catholicism, this basic equipment of family security, provides the insulating layer.

In his novels and stories (“Buridan’s Donkey”, “Award Ceremony”, “New Glory”) De Bruyn is not a wasteful of the great, sweeping feeling. In his work, passion was always suspected of being a dangerous dowry. One could almost say that he was too compassionate and timid to expect a tragic fate on his characters in the novel, and up to the aforementioned autobiographies he held back with references to his own life anyway. Didn’t expose his soul. The psychic abyss of his figures as a premonition, not as sensational painting. He was touched by human weakness, by vacillation in conflicts, by self-loss. A narrative with sovereign casualness, with almost romantic irony and comedy too.

What shaped de Bruyn’s image of the GDR? The family as the smallest cell of the lazy compromise. In the niches, these hidden provinces of freedom, the private advantage triumphed; outside, cheaply costumed, it purred its political creed in order to be left in peace. Dusty opportunism and smooth self-denial. He illuminated the GDR, but the silhouette showed timelessness. Describing reality with fine, pointed throws, with inconspicuous but excellent comparisons – without submitting to it spiritually: this was ultimately the theme of his very successful biography “The Life of Jean Paul Friedrich Richter”.

There is a stability of uncertainty that vibrating literature creates. There is a tactical power to feel your way through life mostly carefully. Such was the nature and work of Günter de Bruyn. So he lived and wrote himself in the better German tradition. Distance has become a real movement for him. Like someone who knows: the most untouched green grows at the borders. Forlornness can be beautiful – if it emphasizes what is individual in people, what is worthy. Not chained to an attitude that drives the weightless out of the body.

Now the writer has died in Bad Saarow at the age of 93.


“The Night Traveler”, a budding old age

Here is a book which should be addressed urgently to the philosopher André Comte Sponville, who proclaims on all television sets his indignation at a society which strives to protect the old to the detriment of the young. With the night traveler, Laure Adler puts forward nicely, at the end of a four-year survey conducted among famous people (Mona Ozouf, Annie Ernaux …) as well as unknown (s) all the wealth represented by the “old” and , paradoxically, the little regard that is made of them, even their invisibility over the years. His book must strike a chord since it is a hit in bookstores.

1 – From when are we old?

This is the point. We all know 30-year-olds and 86-year-olds, but we have to admit that the reverse is also true. Anyway, as Laure Adler says “We’re always someone’s old man or woman. You might as well prepare for it ”. The writer / journalist / producer / editor, whose work bulimia undoubtedly hides, at the age of 70, an immense fear, not of aging but of disappearing in the eyes of others, of being discarded like a faded sweater whose we would forget the infinite sweetness (and we can understand it), keeps revolving around this question. Quoting Chateaubriand who, “At the age of twenty-seven saw his youth fade away for good”, Flaubert who, “On the day of his thirty-six years, he discovers himself as an old man”, or Hugo who said “Forty years is the old age of youth, but fifty years is the youth of old age”, she says: “Being old – because it is an objective reality that no one can dispute – is not to be confused with our perception of it. It is in this sense that there exists for me what I call the feeling of age. “ In other words, we can have several ages within the same day depending on what we are going through. We console ourselves as best we can.

2 – How do you get old?

The other day chatting with a young colleague, we let it slip that for nothing in the world we would not wish to go back to our 20s or even to our 30s, we were much better today. “It is indeed an old man’s remark”, he retorted. And that’s how you get old. “Gaining age as they say gain weight”, writes Laure Adler, recounting how, when she found herself unemployed at 53 years old and pointed every week at Pôle Emploi, her interlocutor had one day come to look for her in the queue where she was waiting, smiling on her lips, to tell her this “good news” : “Since you have worked uninterruptedly since you were 18, you can retire at full rate next week!” Laure Adler had started to cry. Suddenly she had felt old, good to be taken off the shelves.

3 – Who is this book for?

In fact, it is aimed more at the young than the old. Old people “know” all this, they can read this book of course because it is charming, but then on a sunny day or on a date. Young people cannot imagine the vitality and the taste for life of some old people, this book will teach them a lot. And then they will love the refrain of this song by Brigitte Fontaine that Laure Adler likes to listen to on repeat: “I am old and I fuck you / With my dragonfly look / I am old without faith or law / If I die it will be for joy.”

Alexandra Schwartzbrod

Laure adler

The Night Traveler Grasset, 224 pp, 18 € (ebook : 13,99 €).


Michel Houellebecq: ethics, tit for tat

To a question from Agathe Novak-Lechevalier on the sacrifice of order “Christique» of the writer, Michel Houellebecq answers in the affirmative. As he sees it, “To write implies to take upon oneself the negative, all the negative in the world, and to paint a picture of it, so that the reader can be relieved by having seen this negative part expressed. The author, who takes it upon himself to express it, obviously runs the risk of being assimilated to this negative part of the world ”. This is the most interesting unpublished passage fromInterventions 2020, collection which includes “45% new texts” compared to the second edition ofI nterventions (2009). The calculation is by the author himself, who states that“There will be no fourth edition”, “Except in cases of serious moral emergency – for example a legalization of euthanasia.” In May, Augustin Trapenard read the letter “In a little worse”, in which Houellebecq is worried about the death at the time of Covid-19: “Never had one expressed with such calm shamelessness the fact that everyone’s life does not have the same value; that from a certain age (70, 75, 80), it is a little as if we were already dead. ” In “The Vincent Lambert affair should not have taken place”, he considers that it was not in a state of “Manifest a” desire to die “” and we have “Well and truly decided in its place”.

At the top of this volume of articles, interviews and prefaces is the favorite text “Jacques Prévert est un con” (1992) included in each edition of’Interventions. We find the famous sentence: “For my part, I have always considered feminists to be amiable assholes” (1998). Among recent comments, we note that “Zemmour’s intelligence surpasses that of his current opponents” (2019). Also published last year, in Harper’s Magazine, “Donald Trump is a good president” is a textbook case. Houellebecq’s arguments are “The policy of disengagement” and the “Healthy freshness” in trade. But it is easy to isolate other expressions, such as “Heartbreaking puppet”. Or : “On a personal level it is of course quite disgusting. That he calls whores, no problem, who cares, but making fun of the disabled is not good. With an equivalent program, an authentic Christian conservative, well an honorable and moral type, would have been better for America. “

Claire Devarrieux

Michel Houellebecq Interventions 2020 Flammarion, 464 pp., 21 € (ebook : 14,99 €).


French MPs unanimous on the return of objects to Senegal and Benin

The debate is so complex that it sometimes seems inextricable. But the vote of the deputies is very clear: the bill for the restitution of cultural property in Senegal and Benin was adopted unanimously, with 49 votes for and zero against, Tuesday evening. The saber of El Hadj Oumar Tall, a great West African military and religious figure of the 19th centurye century, claimed by his descendants since 1994 and currently exhibited in Dakar at the Museum of Black Civilizations as part of a long-term loan, will therefore become, subject to approval by the Senate, the property of Senegal. And 26 objects currently in the collections of the Quai-Branly museum, the “Béhanzin treasure” looted at the Abomey palace by General Alfred Amédée Dodds and his troops in 1892 – superb large zoomorphic statues, magnificent sculpted doors… – would therefore be delivered by France to the Republic of Benin within a year.

Read also Quai-Branly Museum: “I always thought that one day these pieces would return home”

“This is not an act of repentance or reparation”, said in the preamble the Minister of Foreign Trade Franck Riester, who came to support the bill. Declaring his attachment to the principle of the inalienability of collections (and god knows they all had trouble pronouncing this seven-syllable word during the evening), the minister hammered out that it was “In no way to call into question this fundamental principle” and that the law had “Not general”.

“Do not be afraid of the call for air”

Undoubtedly a wise precaution, because despite the serenity of the debates, reluctance of two kinds appeared. One, deputies believing that the text did not go far enough; the other, from those who on the contrary fear “The ripple effect” that the bill would provoke, and the growing demand from former colonies.

Constance Le Grip (LR) thus underlined that there was “questions, concerns in many circles, and also within the group Les Républicains»And insisted on the character “Derogatory” of this law, it is true limited to two particular cases, the character of military plundering is not in doubt. It also made sure that the modalities of reception of the artefacts were specified; the rapporteur of the law, Yannick Kerlogot (LREM), detailed that their welcome was “Thought and anticipated”, providing, for the 26 objects bound for Benin, details on the 47 hectares of the site of the Abomey palaces to the “Assumed museum function”. A joint work program with Benin will allow France to support these works.

Read also “An object of worship ceases to be alive in a museum”

On the side of unreserved supporters of the bill, Aina Kuric (Agir Ensemble) recalled that this was not the first text voted on such a subject. “Let’s not be afraid of the call for air, let’s not be afraid of the closure of the Quai-Branly museum!” she urged. “We have no reason to fear these requests, on the contrary, we need more, our museums are full, they will not be emptied!” pleaded Michèle Victory (Socialists and allies), who as an application rapporteur had declared in the preamble to recognize “The legitimacy of these requests for reappropriation, by African youth, of these objects” and declared that “African heritage cannot be a prisoner of our European museums”.

The bill responds to a desire expressed by Emmanuel Macron, in November 2017 in Ouagadougou, that “Within five years, the conditions will be met for temporary or definitive restitution of African heritage in Africa”. Yannick Kerlogot clarified that this was “Reinventing bilateral relations in the direction of sub-Saharan Africa” and to do so through the cultural field. “This approach is not Franco-French, but shared by the Western museums of former colonizing states”, he added.

“The fact of the prince”

But we heard muted, and sometimes even openly, reactions to the report commissioned by Emmanuel Macron from the French historian Bénédicte Savoy and the Senegalese economist, writer and scholar Felwine Sarr, who advocates massive restitution of objects from of this region.

Thus Bruno Fuchs (Modem), while welcoming the “Unprecedented political courage” Emmanuel Macron (growls in the hemicycle) he expressed the wish to go further still, this bill not constituting “A viable solution” to reach his “Laudable goals”. He called for a framework law on restitution, a solution advocated by the Sarr / Savoy report, as well as a modification of the heritage code. The latter, for the moment, confirms the inalienable, imprescriptible and non-transferable nature of works held in French collections. Other renditions have nevertheless been made in the past, such as that of 21 Maori heads to New Zealand in 2012 by resorting to a law.

The only dissonant voices during the debates were those of Michel Larive (LFI), who wished to recall the character «global» of the problematic, evoking in particular the Parthenon friezes claimed by Greece from the United Kingdom, which could not therefore be “Settle by the prince”, and underlined the character “Very daring” of the Sarr / Savoy report, while a “Majority of countries do not wish to return” objects listed in its pages. Agnès Thill (UDI) wondered why we should not “Return the Pont du Gard to the Romans”, and fears that the bill is not “A good message for the natives who debunk the statues of Voltaire”.

Elisabeth Franck-Dumas