Thursday, January 29, 2009

Femme debout!

Charles Bremner accuses Ségolène Royal of "settling scores in an extraordinarily vindictive way" in her new book, Femme debout! which he says "confirms that France was lucky to have escaped the rule of a slightly deranged woman." Whoa! Talk about "extraordinarily vindictive!" Bremner hismelf seems slightly unhinged by Ségo. She does that to people. (I would add that Bremner's choice of photograph, intended to make the candidate look like la folle de Chaillot, is hardly a model of restrained journalism).

That said, I think that Ségo is ill-advised to make her persecution central to her political identity, no matter how painful that persecution was. Having claimed last week that she inspired Obama, she should now take inspiration from him in return and develop a little cool, or what the New York Times today calls "Aloha zen." In any case, the title of her book, Femme debout!, which Bremner translates as "Woman Standing!" is no doubt intended to convey an image of dignity and strength under attack, an image belied by the widely publicized excerpts from the text. I would be tempted to hazard a rather freer translation, borrowed from a recent film: "Dead Woman Walking!"


MYOS said...

Looking at testimonials from the strike, I found this:
In the middle of the discussion, the book you mention (not a BD :p -the only book discussed this weekend that's not a BD!) is discussed and excerpts given. I thought the portrait was very astute - funny, biting, and on the mark.

I don't like the video. There's no need for caricature. But I've noticed how President Sarkozy ALWAYS looks so pleased with himself in a childish way and I'd often thought to myself that he looked either like a brat who's won a fight with a younger sibling or like a really bad comedian who's only performed for his mom, doing his first show and so proud of himself.
(I know, there's content, too, but if you look at the image... it's actually unsettling.)

Unknown said...

Obviously, being in Africa at the moment, I've not read this book. However, I checked out Bremmer's column. What strikes me is his admital (3rd para): "Judging from excerpts". In our world today, it's okay to execute a book you haven't read on the basis of excerpts. Balzac is lucky to not live in today's world and journalism has taken yet another blow to its credibility.

MYOS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Bernard, the book is not out yet, only excerpts have been published in the Nouvel Obs (I think it's the Nouvel Obs), hence the "judging from excerpts")

MYOS said...

Bernard, in the book excerpts, she says Sarkozy is a lackluster show off with tremendous energy but vulgar taste and habits. She says so with abrupt frankness and examples. e.g., After the election, he invited her to the Elysee. Apparently she expected the kind of small talk you can expect in such occasions, a "you lost but you fought valiantly" thingy. She repeats in that book the anecdote she'd already given a magazine back then: instead of talking about politics, he showed off his new watch, insisted she eat chocolates, and asked her about her recent break up with her partner.
You're allowed to think Sarkozy is a vulgar show off, but not to write it.
Therefore, these exceprts are enough to declare Open Season.
In addition, I've noticed this peculiar habit of labelling under "unhinged" anyone who tends to hit the mark for Sarkozy, more so if aggressive terms are used. Such terms would not surprise anyone in the US when used about a political opponent but must have bothered Charles Bremner.

Heard Aphatie say just the same as Art today: the book probably *is* detrimental to Royal --- but most of the critique indicated he considers it an exceptional book, one that should be bought and read because it provides unique, unparalleled insights into a politician's thinking process; apparently there's never been a book in France where politicians drop any pretense at "langue de bois" and accept that whatever they say WILL be published.
(Usually they cut out whatever they changed their mind about or reword parts to make them sound better.)
The Grand Journal journalists and anchors, who usually skewer any politician who can be ridiculed, were all impressed with the frankness and will to say things "as they are" or "as they are processed".

MYOS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MYOS said...

Sorry for adding one more comment, but yesterday waiting for a radio show I heard this column (now in podcast for all to hear)
The journalist's words support what Bernard said about judging from excerpts - she's read it all and finds the excerpts very misleading.
I guess those were a publicity stunt - for Nouvel Obs or for Royal?