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Bernard Pivot, Host of Influential French Television Current on Publications, Dies at 89

Bernard Pivot, Host of Influential French Television Current on Publications, Dies at 89


Bernard Pivot, a French tv host who constructed and unmade writers with a weekly e book chat program that drew tens of thousands and thousands of viewers, died on Monday in Neuilly-sur-Seine, outdoors the home Paris. He was 89.

His demise, in a healthcare facility after remaining recognized with most cancers, was verified by his daughter Cécile Pivot.

From 1975 to 1990, France watched Mr. Pivot on Friday evenings to decide what to learn up coming. The area considered him cajole, needle and flatter novelists, memoirists, politicians and actors, and the following day went out to bookstores for tables marked “Apostrophes,” the title of Mr. Pivot’s reveal.

In a French universe the place critical writers and intellectuals jostle ferociously for the general public’s consideration to come back to be superstars, Mr. Pivot by no means competed along with his firm. He reached a sort of elevated chitchat that flattered his viewers with out taxing his invitees.

By way of this system’s heyday within the Eighties, French publishers believed that “Apostrophes” drove a 3rd of the nation’s guide gross sales. So good was Mr. Pivot’s affect that, in 1982, a single of President François Mitterrand’s advisers, the leftist psychological Régis Debray, vowed to get “rid” of the power of “a solitary explicit one who has critical dictatorial electrical energy greater than the information market.”

However the president stepped in to stanch the following outcry, reaffirming Mr. Pivot’s electrical energy.

Mr. Mitterrand launched that he favored Mr. Pivot’s utility he had himself appeared on “Apostrophes” in its early instances to push his new guide of memoirs. Mr. Pivot met Mr. Mitterrand’s condescension with glorious humor. The youthful tv presenter’s emblems ended up presently evident in that 1975 episode: earnest, eager, attentive, affable, respectful and leaning forward to fastidiously provoke.

He was conscious of his electrical energy with out showing to enjoy it. “The slightest query on my facet can put an conclude to the existence of a e-book,” he defined to Le Monde in 2016.

President Emmanuel Macron of France, reacting to the demise on social media, wrote that Mr. Pivot skilled been “a transmitter, well-liked and demanding, costly to the center of the French.”

Mr. Pivot’s lack of life produced up the entrance web site web page of the popular tabloid newspaper Le Parisien on Tuesday, with the headline, “The Gentleman Who Manufactured Us Actually like Publications.”

Nevertheless, “Apostrophes” skilled its diminished instances, which Mr. Pivot got here to remorse in later a very long time: In March 1990, he welcomed the author Gabriel Matzneff who, grinning, boasted of the sort of exploits that 20 many years later set him beneath ongoing authorized investigations for the rape of minors. “He’s a real sexual education instructor,” Mr. Pivot had talked about with superior humor when introducing Mr. Matzneff. “He collects minor sweeties.”

The opposite firm chuckled, with one explicit exception: the Canadian author Denise Bombardier.

Visibly disgusted, she named Mr. Matzneff “pitiful,” and talked about that in Canada, “we shield the suitable to dignity, and the authorized rights of younger kids,” incorporating that “these little or no ladies of 14 or 15 had been not solely seduced, they’d been subjected to what’s recognized as, within the relations involving grownups and minors, an abuse of electrical energy.” She reported Mr. Matzneff’s victims skilled been “sullied,” probably “for the relief of their life.” Because the dialogue ongoing — Mr. Matzneff professed to be indignant at her intervention — Ms. Bombardier extra: “No civilized nation is like this.”

On the shut of 2019, with the accusations towards Mr. Matzneff accumulating, the earlier video drew outrage. Mr. Pivot responded: “Because the host of a literary tv reveal, I might have required a improbable deal of lucidity and pressure of character to not be portion of a liberty which my colleagues within the composed push and in radio accommodated them selves to.”

On his present, there had been at instances confrontations amongst rivals usually it was simply Mr. Pivot and a visitor. 6 million women and men watched him, and roughly everybody most popular to be on his reveal.

And roughly everyone was, together with French literary giants like Marguerite Duras, Patrick Modiano, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, Marguerite Yourcenar and Georges Simenon. On an individual episode, Vladimir Nabokov, showcased to converse about his novel “Lolita,” demanded {that a} teapot full of whiskey be positioned at his disposal and that the inquiries be submitted in progress he merely simply browse the solutions. On a further, a haggard-on the lookout Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, not prolonged out of the Soviet Union, spoke because of an interpreter.

Mr. Pivot defined to the historian Pierre Nora in 1990 within the journal Le Débat simply after the current had completed that his favourite functions had been with the greats whose residences he skilled been permitted to enter — citing the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, amongst many others. “I nonetheless left them with the spirit of a conqueror who had slipped into the non-public existence of a ‘nice individual,’” he defined to Mr. Nora. “I left additionally with the scrumptious emotion of remaining a thief and a predator.”

Most of Mr. Pivot’s guests have as a result of been uncared for, as he acknowledged within the interview with Mr. Nora. “In 15 and a 50 % years, what number of uncared for titles, included round by different forgotten titles! However journalism, as I conceive it, isn’t primarily solely about what’s gorgeous, profound and lengthy lasting,” he claimed. Mr. Solzhenitsyn, he conceded, “made me really really feel truly, truly very small.”

The responses he elicited have been usually utterly frequent, humanizing his exalted attendees. “Literature is only a humorous level,” Ms. Duras defined quietly, proper after worthwhile the celebrated Goncourt Prize in 1984.

The tv host wasn’t pleased together with her comment. “However, however, how is it that you just construct this design and elegance?” he pressed. “Oh, I simply say elements as they arrive to me,” Ms. Duras answered. “I’m in a rush to seize factors.”

A bunch of American writers appeared on the strategy, manner too: William Styron, Susan Sontag, Henry Kissinger, Norman Mailer, Mary McCarthy and lots of others. The poet Charles Bukowski was on in 1978, drunken and downing bottles of Sancerre, molesting a fellow customer and acquiring kicked off the system. “Bukowski, go to hell, you’re bugging us!” the French creator François Cavanna, a fellow visitor, yelled. On a later methodology, a youthful Paul Auster basked in his host’s reward of the American author’s French.

Bernard Claude Pivot was born on May 5, 1935, in Lyon, to Charles and Marie-Louise (Dumas) Pivot, who skilled a grocery store within the metropolis. He attended faculties in Quincié-en-Beaujolais and Lyon, enrolled on the Faculty of Lyon as a legislation scholar and graduated from the Centre de Improvement des Journalistes in Paris in 1957.

In 1958, he was employed by Figaro Littéraire, the literary complement to the newspaper Le Figaro, to compose the sort of tidbits in regards to the literary setting that the French press delighted in, and Mr. Pivot was launched. He skilled numerous tv and radio functions within the early Nineteen Seventies, assisted launch Lire, {a magazine} about textbooks, and on Jan. 10, 1975, at 9:30 p.m., aired his very first of 723 episodes of “Apostrophes.” Yet another plan Mr. Pivot hosted, “Bouillon de Way of life,” had a 10-12 months function, ending in 2001. In 2014, he grew to become president of the Goncourt Academy, which awards 1 of France’s most prestigious literary prizes, a spot he saved till 2019.

In 1992, Mr. Pivot refused the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest civilian honor, from the French authorities, stating that working journalists must not accept these sorts of an award.

“My father was actually modest,” his daughter Cécile, additionally a journalist, stated in an job interview. “He didn’t need to have something in any respect to do with that.”

Mr. Pivot was additionally the creator of roughly two dozen is efficient, principally about studying, and quite a few dictionaries.

Along with his daughter Cécile, Mr. Pivot is survived by yet one more daughter, Agnès Pivot, a brother, Jean-Charles, a sister, Anne-Marie Mathey, and some grandchildren.

“Do I’ve an interview strategy?” he requested Mr. Nora, rhetorically, within the 1990 interview. “No. I’ve a manner of getting, of listening, of talking, of inquiring as soon as extra, that can come naturally to me, that existed upfront of I started enterprise Tv, and that can exist after I not do it.”

Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting from Paris.

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Written by bourbiza mohamed

Bourbiza Mohamed is a freelance journalist and political science analyst holding a Master's degree in Political Science. Armed with a sharp pen and a discerning eye, Bourbiza Mohamed contributes to various renowned sites, delivering incisive insights on current political and social issues. His experience translates into thought-provoking articles that spur dialogue and reflection.

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