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This report is taken from PN Review 28, Volume 9 Number 2, November - December 1982.

Letter from Paris Stephen Romer
April 1982

For the last six days of March, the glass and iron dome of the Grand Palais was 'resonant with tribute and with commerce'. More than 130,000 visitors came to the second annual Salon du Livre, some to pay tribute to the living, others to search for the long-lost dead. 750 francophone and smiling publishers presided over both and ensured that commerce was brisk. Among the living were the seven hundred authors who agreed to sign their writing hands away, for an allotted number of hours, before adoring crowds. As it turned out, the ordeal for many of them was slight -embarrassingly so. The genial rotundity of the novelist Hervé Bazin, for example, looked rather punctured. Faithful to his post, pen poised, the poor man seemed to be suffering from neglect. . . . The real stars of the Salon were those authors rescued from the cavernous warehouses of the major publishers, nearly all of them too distinguished to be consigned to the final ignominy of the pilon, or pulper. Taken together, these authors constitute the extraordinarily rich fonds littéraires. Leaving aside, for the moment, the enormous resources of Gallimard, a publisher like Grasset displayed such muscle as Malraux, Mauriac, Montherlant, Giraudoux, Giono and Radiguet. And it made the living look decidedly frail.

Opened by the President himself, flanked by Messieurs Defferre and Lang, the Salon provided the opportunity for quite an orgy of political self-congratulation. During the six days, le Monde ran a series of ...


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