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Disgraced French writer Matzneff stripped of state aid

HUGUES HONORÉ/FIACHRA GIBBONS

Agence France-Presse

Paris, France  /  Fri, September 25, 2020  /  10:30 am
Disgraced French writer Matzneff stripped of state aid

French writer Gabriel Matzneff walks along the Mediterranean sea in Bordighera, on February 16, 2020. (AFP/Valery Hache)

France has stripped pedophile writer Gabriel Matzneff of all state aid, the country's culture minister said Thursday.

The controversial essayist, who never made a secret of his preference for sex with adolescent girls and boys, is to stand trial next year on a charge of promoting pedophilia.

"I can assure you that Gabriel Matzneff is no longer getting his grant," Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot told the publishing weekly, Livres Hebdo.

Matzneff has occupied a privileged niche in the French literary world for years, winning the prestigious Renaudot prize in 2013 and getting thousands of euros in aid as well as a subsidized apartment in Paris' upmarket Left Bank.

Officials said he received some 160,000 euros ($186,000) over the past 18 years in grants for low-income writers.

But publisher Vanessa Springora ignited a huge scandal earlier this year with her memoir Consent, in which she described how she was groomed by Matzneff when she was 14.

Two other women have since come forward to say they too were abused by him as teenagers.

The scandal has shaken the French arts and fashion establishments, with a deputy mayor of Paris forced to resign because of his links to the writer.

Read also: French writer 'regrets' his pedophile sex tourism in Asia

Widening scandal

Christophe Girard had been the conduit for money given to the writer from the Saint Laurent fashion house.

Girard too is now under investigation over a rape accusation against him, which he denies.

The Matzneff scandal was one of the turning points in the #MeToo movement in France, after decades of people turning a blind eye to the diarist's behavior despite his frankness about his private life.

Within months of the latest instalment of his "intimate journals" hitting the shelves, French publishers began pulling his books from shops as Springora's book began making headlines in January.

Matzneff, now 84, denounced the "unjust and excessive attacks" on him, claiming that his relationship with Springora had been one of "beauty".

But in her book, which quickly became a bestseller, she wrote: "Aged 14, you are not supposed to have a 50-year-old man waiting for you when you leave school. 

"You are not supposed to live in a hotel with him, or find yourself in his bed with his penis in your mouth when you should be having your mid-afternoon snack."

Bachelot praised Springora for having the courage to speak out.

"I thank Vanessa Springora," she said. "Whenever there are power issues, financial issues, there can be these phenomena of sexual assault.

"That should lead the books industry to think about prevention measures, and to be much more proactive," she added.

The minister called for parity between the sexes on the juries of the country's big literary prizes and at the head of its major publishing houses. 

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