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This report is taken from PN Review 27, Volume 9 Number 1, September - October 1982.

Report from France Vivienne Menkes
January 1982

If the word patrimoine seemed to be constantly on the lips of Giscard and his ministers as they tried to impress on their auditors the need to 'preserve the nation's heritage', the indications so far suggest that the Socialist government has singled out the word culture for similar star treatment. General de Gaulle may have had his certaine idée de la France, but Mitterand seems to have developed une certaine idée de la culture.

He claims to want to ensure that all French citizens are not only equal before the law, but 'equal before culture' too-the phrase appeared in the Socialists' policy document on books and reading in March 1981, two months before Mitterand's election victory. Soon after the elections the Culture Minister Jack Lang, an obvious 'personality' of the new regime and, with his casual jackets and brightly coloured shirts, a very different figure from the serried ranks of grey schoolmasters who are believed by some commentators to have taken over public life in France, announced that he would be sur le terraine de l'action culturelle en France for ten days in every month. This grandiose but somewhat vague statement was apparently intended to show that culture under the new regime would not be restricted to an élite living in the capital but would permeate all social classes and regions of France. Indeed he was soon talking of the need for culture to 'contaminate the whole State', and of each region having its own ...


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