Friday, July 17, 2015

Death of Jean Lacouture, a journalist and biographer, voracious and humanist – The World

Le Monde | • Updated | By

Jean Lacouture, at his Paris home in 2000.

He had the look of a musketeer, profile knife edge, the eyebrows and squinting through the eternal smile. Bluffing until brightest colleagues is standing and fifteen minutes as Jean Lacouture tapped foreign policy editorial Machine World in the early 1960s “It’s so fun to write” , he still liked to say, elegant and svelte in his nineties, when interviewed in recent years on its exceptional ease.

died July 16 at age 94 in Roussillon (Vaucluse), according to his family, Jean Lacouture therefore can not “fun” But it leaves a work:. not less than 71 books, one written with fifteen co-signers. And a nice mark in the annals of art. Eminent journalist and biographer, leftist from conservative backgrounds, is committed witness that he had embraced the cause of decolonization in the immediate post-war period, at a time when the latter does fell to no evidence

rebel Frisson

Born June 9, 1921 in Bordeaux, son of a good family. – his father is a renowned surgeon – Jean Lacouture attended high school Saint-Joseph-de-Tivoli, with the Jesuits. His mother, intransigent Catholic, is keen on historical narratives that help shape his taste for great characters. He is 14 years old in 1936 when the Popular Front, frowned upon in the community.

Teenager sports and apolitical, it is nevertheless a great reader, especially not without a rebellious thrill, then Bernanos Malraux. In November 1939, the brilliant young man who seeks diplomacy between Sciences Po in Paris. Upon appeal of 18 June 1940 his parents are strong supporters of General de Gaulle. He, although sympathetic, did not feel really concerned: he watches without reacting the cleavages between students, and separate Pétainists Gaullists. In 1942, his graduation, registered letters and law at the University of Bordeaux, he still did not commit. At most, to escape the forced labor in Germany, he is hiding in a farm. And it was in April 1944, shortly before the landing, he joined a maquis. Resistance “late” if he blamed all his life. In September, wishing to complete this patriotic catch, he joined the Paris region the 2 th Armored Division of General Leclerc, some units are still awaiting departure for the East. It was in Germany that he will learn, May 8, 1945, the capitulation of the Nazis.

Experience Indochina

The only war ended in Europe the colonial question arises everywhere. Leclerc recruits for the French Expeditionary Corps in the Far East. Reason: liberate Indochina Japanese who settled there. The young man volunteered. But actually fight, the gun will be the typewriter: member of the press service of the general, he joined the small team of young officers who performs Caravelle , a newspaper for the troops. In October 45, he embarked in Marseille to Saigon. Twenty-three days at sea

At the finish, the opponent is not Japan but the Viet Minh, which in the north, in Hanoi, proclaimed independence on September 2 by the voice of Ho Chi Minh. Lacouture begins by exalting “France liberating” but not long in doubt. The French camp is divided. Advised by the great asiatisant Paul Mus, Leclerc looks for a negotiated self-determination. The editors of Caravelle too, and in 1946, while continuing their military newspaper, are launching a patron with Paris-Saigon , civil and pacifist weekly. Leclerc line seems to prevail: open discussions with the nationalists. And it is on duty the young Lacouture hand meet in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap military strategist. . It shows definitely impressed and confident that peace is at hand

On March 6, 1946, an agreement was signed: France recognizes Vietnam as a “free state” although vocation remain “within the French Union.” Illusion! Undermined by hard from both sides, the agreement finally scuppered In December, begins the Indochina War that lasted eight years and end with a French defeat. After fourteen months of stay, it is in bitterness that Jean Lacouture regain the city.

In “Combat” to “World”

In 1982.

Early in 1947, returning from Indochina, where he had gone with the army, the future general Georges Buis, near Leclerc, offered him a job in the administration press service French Morocco. There, he befriended a great orientalist Jacques Berque, future professor at the Collège de France, then colonial official in disgrace because of reformism. Feeling “the wrong side” , he returned to France in 1949, but not alone: ​​in Morocco, he met his wife, Simonne Miollan, a journalist with the AFP, and fierce anti-colonialist militant CGT . Thereof, after his death in 2011, he will say: “I had an incredible luck in life. My sails were well operated by Simonne. She was my admiral. “

Back in Paris, Jean Lacouture wants to become a journalist in itself. It burns entering the World , created five years ago by Hubert Beuve-Mery, but every day Combat , most left, a door s opens: he spent two years experienced as “enchantment” However, it has not renounced the evening daily which, in November 1951, hiring for treating “issues overseas” . Once in place, beginning almost 30 years has no trouble asserting it. It follows the crises in Tunisia and Morocco, makes another trip in Indochina … His early professional stature and the golden age that lives in these years the press will open career made him a multiple collaborations and round trips, at its option, between different titles.

In 1957, after leaving Le Monde to Egypt, he returned to lead the evening daily “off Service -Sea “. He remained in that position until 1964, as bright as a professional, he confessed later, “poor service head” . The coming forty, he became summits of recognition and notoriety. It launches in 1961, Seuil, his collection “The immediate history” (she had 284 titles in 2013). From 1964, he is both a signature of World where, department head, he moved reporter, and New Observer , directed by his friend John Daniel.

Opera, rugby, bullfighting

For the weekly, it delivers its most committed items. For everyday, it touches everything: both special envoy to Ethiopia as covering a recital of Brassens in Paris or the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble. Without neglecting his three passions – opera, rugby, bullfighting – on which his pen seduces even the most lay readers. Since 1976, collaborations with World will be less frequent. His ultimate item daily, in September 2008, is dedicated to a journalist character in literature: Lucien de Rubempre in Lost Illusions , Balzac

Journalist and Author Featured,. Lacouture multiplies. From 1966 to 1972 he teaches at Sciences Po; from 1969 to 1971 in the “university of Vincennes,” future University of Paris VIII. In 1966, here are research fellow (“researcher”) at Harvard for a thesis he will never write, stay turning into a series of interviews and lectures against the Vietnam War . From 1969 to 1972 he collaborates on television with Peter Desgraupes and Joseph Shepherd, until their eviction by a power he does not hesitate to mock. With de Gaulle, he believes, French “followed the great druid in the forest to cut the mistletoe with him” . With Pompidou, “we have a board that announces the course of securities’ .

The report, a threat” to the ideas we had done before, “

Such success, played with joyful voracity, could not unanimous. His writing style pictorial, sensitive to emotion and retail, sometimes carried away by his talent, exasperates sober. His humanist scruples annoy the Third World. His party took the uneasy neutrality advocates, Judge notion that “absurd” as “any investigation of a share point of view” . However, he has always denied being a journalist and activist stressed that the report is essentially a threat “to the ideas we had done before,”

confess, however, have “three or four times (…) you some things to not harm a camp” , including having minimized the differences within the Algerian FLN in order not to play into the opponents of independence: “A malpractice,” he will insist. On the Cultural Revolution – imposed by Mao Zedong from 1966 to 1976 – he was blind banal, saying: “It seems to me that in the long term, it will be a positive action. “ Blindness also very divided at the time, in 1975 he welcomed the arrival in power of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, and then slow to find their genocidal drift unimaginable for him from intellectuals he had rubbed shoulders. Recognizing his mistakes in 1976 on the subject, he tries to repair them, publishing Survive the Cambodian people! (Seuil, 1978). His books souvenirs – its longevity is that he published at different times – are peppered with references to his famous interlocutors, Nikita Khrushchev to Henry Kissinger, Prince Sihanouk to Robert Kennedy …

On a map more intimate, the list of dating gives the impression of turning the pages of a cultural and political dictionary of the second half of the XX th century. But Jean Lacouture had not, so to speak, “only” talent and relationships. It also embodied a strong journalism, able to influence situations. He considered journalism in recent years endangered facing the “money power.”


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