Words and books. It’s Mitterrand’s fault – Books

A journalist whose duty it is to follow the news as closely as possible, to tell it and, if possible, to explain it, can he consider himself and present himself as a complete actor in this ongoing story? ? This is the question that comes to mind when reading “La Belle Époque”, the second volume of the saga that Franz-Olivier Giesbert chose to dedicate to contemporary France. The answer is probably that here the writer gets the upper hand over the journalist, without the same constraints.

In this case, it narrates the period from the 70s to the beginning of the 80. then to Giscard, to the coming to power of the left and of François Mitterrand.

His first opus gave Franz-Olivier Giesbert the opportunity to explain everything he had to tell us about de Gaulle. The period concerned here, he lived it more intensely, as a journalist, first novice and more famous. In this story, we clearly find his own way of sketching the heroes, adding some details that we should ignore about them, as if to tell us that, under his pen, no one untouchable

Very salty cowries

Those who appreciate his style, both precise and pointed, in which the search for the right word has its place, will certainly not be disappointed. Moreover, if he is inspired by his notes of the time, which appear in notebooks kept like so many relics, he adds this patina, it puts into perspective certain memories kept, despite the fading of time. Above all, even when he happened to express some kindness to such and such, he never failed to season it with a very salty cowery. You can even see his trademark there. Its most difficult manifestations are not necessarily reserved for politicians. Here is Jean Lacouture, for example, his journalistic colleague and biographer, whom he described as an “embassy sycophant”. Or even Philippe Sollers, whose past as a Germanopratin Maoist ideologist certainly did not change his popularity, presented as “the man who laughs at the graves of the masses of history. When he does not stick out his tongue…”. Giesbert was beyond the age of friendship in all things.

Without a lack of anecdotes and a certain indulgence about the times of Pompidou and Giscard, he admits however that the young journalist was not yet intimate behind the scenes of power. Especially since his posture as a rising star of the Nouvel Observateur, a weekly follower of the then so-called second left and in which he describes a somewhat croquigolesque editorial staff, instead encouraged him to frequent the main socialist leaders , in increments. . A close friend of Pierre Mauroy, he was also close to François Mitterrand. Without illusions, according to him. Regarding the latter, he said: “With all due respect to my little man, irreverence in the operetta, Rubempré of the staircase, he must think that one day I can use him for something”.

A testimony from the front row

The account given by Franz-Olivier Giesbert of the left’s conquest of power, in general, by François Mitterrand, in particular, can be read as a testimony from the front row. Even with the accuracy of the analysis. For example, when he explains, referring to Gramsci’s theory, that “power always ends up with those who embody the dominant ideology, which does not necessarily correspond to the short-term popularity of political parties: it is the movement of ideas that dominates world..

However, if the Giesbert of the past multiplied articles in praise of a left hopeful that finally emerged from a long remedy of opposition, the Giesbert of today proves that he also has a judgment that is more severe, certainly hidden from its readers. but still an amazing turnaround, in itself. Therefore, a good part of his work is above all the value of justifying a reconversion that is likely to be implicitly mentioned in a future opus. “Before exposing the concrete reasons for my separation,” he wrote, “I would like to mention the progressive changes of the PS towards a monarchical system. “And he does not deny it to himself. The grievance, too much, is certainly no foundation.

A question arises equally: would Mitterrand have acted differently had he known the extent to which his behavior inevitably drove Franz-Olivier Giesbert into the arms of the right-wing press, where the rest of his career is brilliant? Unless he already foresaw that his behavior was conducive to a future and very good accusation, which the lover of literature does not want to deny us and which today’s readers can appreciate in its full extent .

“The good times. Intimate History of the Fifth Republic” by Franz-Olivier Giesbert. Galliard editions. 22 €.

(© Gallimard)

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