JMG Le Clezio quits French books prize

Agence France-Presse . Paris | Published: 22:44, Apr 03,2020


JMG Le Clezio

The Nobel prize-winning writer JMG Le Clezio said Thursday that he will resign from the jury of one of France’s top literary prizes because it honoured paedophile Gabriel Matzneff.

Le Clezio said he was ‘forcefully opposed’ to Matzneff winning the Renaudot prize in 2013 for a volume of his diaries, but ‘they would not listen to me’.

The novelist, who won the Nobel in 2008, is the second judge to quit the jury because of Matzneff, who never made a secret of his predilection for adolescent boys and girls.

Le Clezio described the book, ‘Seraphin, c’est la fin!’ (‘Seraphin, It’s Over!’), as an ‘apology for rape’ and told the French daily Le Figaro that he ‘read it with a large amount of disgust’.

Journalist Jerome Garcin quit the jury in protest last month, and like him Le Clezio said he wanted to see more women judge the prize.

At the moment, only one woman sits on the 10-person jury. The French literary world has been shaken by the scandal around Matzneff. 

The 83-year-old occupied a privileged niche in the books world until January when attitudes toward the writer changed radically after publisher Vanessa Springora revealed her tortured under-age relationship with him in her bestseller, ‘Consent’.

Matzneff -- who fled to Italy after the scandal broke -- is to stand trial next year on a charge of justifying paedophilia, and prosecutors launched a rape investigation into him the day after Springora’s book was published.

A second woman also spoke out on Wednesday, claiming she was groomed and controlled by the writer.

Francesca Gee said he used her when she was a schoolgirl in the 1970s, waiting for her outside her high school every day when she was 15.

She told the New York Times that Matzneff used her picture and the explicit letters the diarist encouraged her to write to him in his books against her will, including in his notorious defence of paedophilia, ‘Les Moins de Seize Ans’, (‘The Under 16s’).

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