Literary circles in France are agog with a new Book that is likely to be published early next year. The author of the book is Vanessa Springora who is heading a French publishing company. She has accused 83-year-old French author Gabriel Matzneff of child abuse in her book. The book has raised controversy over attitudes of the French elite, and the literary world, toward pedophiles. The Guardian has reported that the French author is now 83 years old and has denied the charges.
Vanessa Springora is now 47 years old.
She is writing about events that took place many decades back when she was just 14. She claims in her book that she was “groomed” by Gabriel Matzneff at a time when she was a minor. The book “Le Consentement (Consent)” Is to be published next week. Attention to the book has been more distinct since accusations surfaced against Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood film producer, in 2017.
Vanessa is very candid in her book, making clear that there was no coercion involved. She goes on to add that she cannot deny that she consented to a man who was 36 years older than her.
She goes on to say that the complete episode has to be seen in the proper perspective as she was only 14 and her parents were going by a difficult divorce when Gabriel Matzneff solicited her. He would be waiting for her at the school gate and then take her to a hotel. Prior to that he would follow her and write letters. According to the writer, Matzneff would take her to a hotel, to throw the authorities off track, as there were questions being raised about his relationship with a young girl.
The book is not an autobiography but the complete story is presented in the form of a novel. She does not say the name of the writer but just refers to him by his initials GM. There is, however, no doubt that she is referring to the writer Matzneff, who is now 83 years old. The Telegraph has reported that Matzneff has won many prestigious awards during his writing career, though he had acknowledged having a relationship with minors including young boys in the Philippines.
The clout of the writer Is apparent as the complete literary world overlooked his actions. Matzneff had publicly stated on French TV many times that he was attracted to young girls and teenagers. He had discussed his relationship with girls who were over the age of 15, as in France the age of consent is 15. This probably was the reason that Matzell was careful to mention that the girls who came into his life were all above that age.
The attitude of Matzell can be gauged from the fact that he wrote an open letter calling for three men who were on remand and accused of relationship with boys aged 13 and 14 to be released.
At that time already famous writers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simon de Beauvoir supported this action.
Matzell has expressed his “sadness” at the contents of the book. He feels the aim of the writer is to disparage his work and damage his reputation. The fact remains that the French literary world at that time did not consider it immoral to have a relationship with teenage girls and that is why there was not much talk about such relationships. Bernard Pivot who was a famous critic and journalist at that time has stated that times have changed and what was moral then is now considered taboo.
An example is of S Marin who is now the chief minister of Finland and changing morality has accepted that she can be a leader though having a child out of wedlock.