News and Opinion from Anne Barone to Keep You Chic & Slim

|| 30 november 2014

Reading List Furor

What was on the French Culture Minister’s reading list that so upset the French public?

Fortunately Susan in Hamilton included with her lovely Thanksgiving card, a clipping of a New York Times article that answered that question puzzling me. I had read that the French were upset. But the articles that I read did not list the upsetting books.

Actually it was not any book on the list. It was that there were NO books on the list. Fleur Pellerin, the French Culture Minister, publicly admitted she had not read a book in two years. Worse yet, she could not name the title of any book by Patrick Modiano, the French author who is the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Even though she had recently gone to lunch with M. Modiano.

The NYTimes article quoted French journalist Claude Askolovitch who called Fleur Pellerin’s lack of reading “barbaric” and called for her to resign, arguing that what he described as her crude indifference to France’s Nobel laureate made her unfit for the job. The article opinion piece (in French) Exquise barbarie (Fleur Pellerin et Modiano) appears on the French Huffington Post.

The answer to my first question prompted another: Why on earth did French President Hollande appoint a technology expert as the Culture Minister instead of someone with credentials similar to those of a previous French Culture Minister Christine Albanel? Mme Albanel was one of the chic French certain age women I featured in Chic & Slim Toujours. Among the credentials Christine Albanel brought to the job was former president of the French National Museum of Versailles. She studied classical and modern literature at the Sorbonne.

In Fleur Pellerin’s defense, whether or not she reads books, she is a brilliant woman much better suited to the post that Hollande originally appointed her: Minister of Innovation and the Digital Economy.

More information on Fleur Pellerin and the reading list furor she caused in France in an article in The Guardian (UK).

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone