France, literature and the age of consent

New year, new scandal.

Over the last few weeks, the Parisian literary elite has been contorting itself into elaborate knots over the behaviour of Gabriel Matzneff, the 83-year-old prizewinning novelist, essayist and predator. In Le Consentement, an explosive new memoir, Vanessa Springora describes her relationship with Matzneff, which began in the mid-1980s, when she was 14 and he in his 50s.

My article in the Guardian about Gabriel Matzneff 

The Audin Affair

EARLY IN 2017, barely a year after he launched his whistle-stop campaign for the presidency, Emmanuel Macron seriously ruffled feathers in France when he told Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika that the “crimes and acts of barbarism” committed by the French army during the Algerian war of independence would today be considered “crimes against humanity”.

After fierce criticism from the right (another candidate for the presidency, the right-wing Francois Fillon, condemned what he called a “hatred of our history” and the “perpetual repentance that is unworthy of a candidate for the presidency of the republic”), Macron dropped the rhetoric for the duration of his campaign, and the whole first year of his presidency.