The underside of Laurent Fabius’ funny application to the French Academy – L’Express

The underside of Laurent Fabius funny application to the French

While the drums of the Republican Guard roll, descending the stone staircase, swords, three canes, a graceful skirt, that of Dominique Bona, lively steps, others less so, here are the green clothes advancing towards their numbered chair, they sit down and count themselves: there are 13. Thirteen academicians present this March 14 to welcome the philosopher Sylviane Agacinski, the wife of Lionel Jospin, elected in June to chair 19. Only 13 out of 40, that gives see sparse aisles, dozens of empty seats. This signals the sulking crisis. Notwithstanding this massive absenteeism, around the immortal in pants, 11th woman to join the Coupole, it’s party, and cocktail at the House of Latin America. Champagne, compliments and a few laughs when Marc Lambron, armchair 38, loudly proclaims that if his “friend” François Sureau, armchair 24, is absent from these social events, it is because he preferred the promotion of his latest book on the television set of Daily. Away from these uncharitable laughing people, Pierre Moscovici, president of the Court of Auditors, motto with Laurent Fabius, garnet tie. The President of the Constitutional Council does not let anything show, but can he not think at this moment that if everything goes as planned, in the shadows, he will be the next one at the end of April to don the costume embroidered with branches of Olivier ?

The day after this short truce, the battles started again. Time is running out around the incandescent armchair 16, whose last occupant was Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Before him, 18 holders over four centuries: a Marquis de Montesquiou, several court abbots, Richelieu’s great-nephew, then Charles Maurras, thinker of Action Française, followed by the poet-president of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and finally, from 2003 until his death in 2020, the former President of the Republic. The deadline for applications is April 14. Usually, these affairs are prepared for years, the time of endless discussions and secret maneuvers. This tradition of Florentine slowness, however, exploded in October 2021, when François Sureau and Marc Lambron led a campaign to welcome the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa on the Conti quay, a lightning candidacy for which it was even necessary to postpone the age limit.

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A stampede from which the gray academicians still tremble; what a circus for a novelist who only came to chair 18 twice and who had to have his reception speech translated into French, that’s saying something. These friends of centuries-old customs swear this time that to succeed Giscard it will be different, everything will be done with cotton wool and according to good manners. Who then for chair 16? The navigator Isabelle Autissier, the first woman to have completed a solo circumnavigation of the world, member of the Corps of Marine Writers, would be a good candidate; the late head of state, some believe, would have loved a woman to sit in his place. Amin Maalouf, chair 29, and Jean-Christophe Rufin, chair 28, approach the adventurer, and “the idea has been floating around ever since”, the applicant says funnyly. At his side to serve as his sextant in the troubled waters of the Coupole, Dominique Bona, chair 33, and Erik Orsenna, chair 17, who signed two books with Autissier. In January, the navigator writes her application letter, one for each academician. Did she design it too hastily from the port of La Rochelle where she lives? She immediately declared that she was being challenged, badly heckled. “There are provincial extras and poets in every election,” says Marc Lambron.

The philologist Barbara Cassin, chair 36, sword replaced by a connected lightsaber, expresses her noisy astonishment. Although she asked the suitor by mail to tell her what her bedside books were, she never responded. Did she even have time? Because this time, the swell hits hard, headwind. Can we imagine, echo some indignant voices, that the sailmaker is praising Valéry Giscard d’Estaing? No, we need to find better, bigger, more statutory. Isabelle Autissier asked to wait for a less symbolic chair, we look for parades. The lawyer François Sureau then submitted the name of Laurent Fabius, and proposed it during his conversations on Thursday, the day on which the Academy held a meeting. Welcoming the President of the Constitutional Council, former Prime Minister, first in the aggregation of classics, who, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, exhausted his teams during plane journeys in Latin phrase competitions which he won on each flight, due to fault of competitor, that would not lack allure, many say. An excellent idea, applaud Pierre Nora, chair 27, and Michel Zink, medievalist, chair 37. Yes, that would have some panache, the supreme judge of the last presidential election, the thorn in the sole of the Macron presidency, hanging around during the sessions of the dictionary.

Writers Marc Lambron, Erik Orsenna and Jean-Marie Rouart, after their induction into the Académie française in April 2016.


The idea is developing and Laurent Fabius, flattered, tempted, lets people talk. The fact that his candidacy is circulating does not displease him, it will calm the ardor of other politicians who pride themselves on writing, Dominique de Villepin, Hubert Védrine, even Bruno Le Maire will thus know that their green dreams are fading away. Now, if there have always been politicians at the Academy (Edgar Faure, Senghor, Pierre Messmer, Xavier Darcos, and Giscard) there were never many of them at the same time, and all of them will have waited to be left the quarry. Which is not the case for the tenant of Rue Montpensier, whose mandate ends in 2025. At the Presidency of the Republic, under whose protection the house on Quai Conti is placed, this Fabiusian candidacy displeases. The prospect of a speech from the latter, proclaiming the outrageous grandeur of our public freedoms, to which the former lawyer François Sureau would respond, in an even more scathing vein, is hardly amusing. classic

The Laurent Fabius hypothesis and the shadow of a psychiatrist

The day after Sylviane Agacinski’s reception, March 16, Le Figaro writes that Laurent Fabius could present himself. Immediately, the Giscard d’Estaing family was moved. Going from not having been informed of the election, but from there to proposing the socialist Prime Minister to the seat of their husband and father, it is inappropriate. The son of the former president, Louis, opens up to the former pen of the Figaro, Jean-Marie Rouart, chair 26, asking him to “torpedo” the file. At the same time, Anne-Aymone Giscard d’Estaing resumes speaking with Dominique Bona, and tells him of her grief. That the one who was nicknamed the “Giscard of the left” succeeds the real Giscard of the right displeases him, do we remember at the Academy that Fabius himself tried to chase her husband from Rue Montpensier? Invited two days later, on March 18, on the CNews set, Jean-Marie Rouart said how badly he thinks about this crazy idea from the new kid, elected in 2020, François Sureau. Since when, he exclaims in front of an encouraging Pascal Praud, have the chairs been devolved? It is absurd to conceive that the seat of VGE should go to another politician, that is not how the institution works.

READ ALSO: The Maalouf-Rufin duel at the French Academy: drama and mischief

The fuse is lit. And many will warm themselves by its fire. Because this election presents, among other difficulties, that of being the second organized under the tutelage of Amin Maalouf, the new perpetual secretary, succeeding the quarter of a century of authoritarian reign of Hélène Carrère d’Encausse. The previous election – that of the Islamologist Christian Jambet – having been entirely organized by the “tsarina”, before her death, that of chair 16 is her trial by fire. However, the Lebanese writer, unaccustomed to the trickery of his house, has been the target of a dubious internal process of incompetence since the fall. Supported by “the clan of professors”, that is to say all the academics ranked behind Barbara Cassin, he knows he is fiercely contested by those who are nicknamed here “the unleashed enarques”, mainly Marc Lambron. Who wouldn’t hate to see Maalouf prevented, cornered, or even giving up his embroidered coat, and then, he doesn’t like the audacity of his friend François Sureau, elected much more recently than him, and whom he judges to be too autonomous. Torpedo Fabius, weaken Maalouf and calm Sureau, the big deal. To his loved ones, here he confides that he is shocked by the candidacy, still not declared, of the President of the Constitutional Council. The latter still has a year of mandate ahead of him, it would be unfortunate for the institutions of the Republic if he freed himself “to go and beg for a feather” from his arbitral position by applying to Quai Conti, he also observes that if the latter was defeated, it would weaken the Council, wouldn’t that be worrying in these times?

François Sureau, he murmurs, doesn’t know how to do it, too political, lacking a strategic mind, accumulating novice errors. At this festering stage, the candidacy of Laurent Fabius smells scorched. And the kind Amin Maalouf gets in touch with the latter to tell him that the moment is not opportune, the risk of being beaten is immense. Fine, but then who for chair 16? Marc Lambron, what a coincidence, has the solution: the psychiatrist Raphaël Gaillard, organizer of the popular congress of the L’Encephale circle, a club of top-level psychiatrists. Since the initial sponsorship of Yves Pouliquen, an academic doctor who died in 2020, a member of the Academy has spoken at each of its conferences, enough to garner many votes. As soon as the professor’s letter of application is sent, an article from Release, published in 2020, describing the “unbreathable” climate at the Sainte-Anne hospital that he directs. Raphaël Gaillard allegedly tried to forcibly intern a patient guilty of flooding his wife with emails. Here we go again. The academic rule according to which only people of “good company” are invited to join the Coupole would thus be mistreated; isn’t that a delicate application?

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President of the French Constitutional Council Laurent Fabius poses in his office during a photo session in Paris on October 19, 2023 (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)


An obscure report on anglicisms

It is in this flammable state of mind that the green clothes find themselves on Thursday March 21. In the tinderbox atmosphere, an obscure report on anglicisms in institutions, published online in February 2022 and never printed, will set fire. Although the subject does not appear on the agenda, Jean-Marie Rouart chooses to discuss its publication under the colors of the Plon house, a design that François Sureau considers to be “at the level of an oilseed union”. While permanent secretary Maalouf had congratulated Rouart for having found a publisher, this time he brakes and thunders, it is impossible for this “mediocre” report to come out of the drawers. Barbara Cassin approves.

Jean-Marie Rouart immediately attacked her, accusing her of the worst crime: she defended “multilingualism”. In private, the academician vilifies his colleague, constantly recalling that she was the only member of the Academy associated with the Cité Internationale de Villers-Cotterêts, a museum inaugurated by Macron, whom many here consider to be a masked and rowdy competitor. . The hours pass, bad. When the sun finally set on this bellicose Thursday, some people leaving the Conti quay said to themselves that electing a psychiatrist in a month might not be such a bad idea.