I write, therefore I am

Can only a writer be elected French president?

THE start of the school year in France also brings la rentrée littéraire, when publishers load a new crop on to the bookshelves in time for the season’s literary prizes. Over 650 new titles are out this time, scrutinised and promoted in glossy pages and on television shows. In a country that sees itself as a guardian of high culture, all pretenders to the presidency in 2012 are expected to pick up their pens, publish or perish.

On the left François Hollande, a Socialist hopeful, recently published “The French Dream”. Ségolène Royal, his ex-partner and the party’s defeated 2007 candidate, has just unveiled her snappily titled “Letter to all those Resigned and Indignant who want Solutions”. In the centre François Bayrou, author of over a dozen political volumes and two biographies of Henri IV, has written “2012: State of Emergency”. On the right, Dominique de Villepin, a published poet with several volumes on Napoleon to his name, has just brought out “Our Old Country”, a rousing appeal to reconnect France “to its destiny”.

Why are serving politicians such prolific wordsmiths? In a land where intellectuals are still cherished, publishing a book is a badge of seriousness. François Mitterrand turned out over 20.

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It’s all about the author

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