French Academy Elections: Renowned Writers Amin Maalouf and Jean-Christophe Rufin Compete for Secretary-General Position
Unexpected Competition for the Prestigious Position
The esteemed role of the secretary-general of the French Academy, rendered vacant after the passing of Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, is now being pursued by two acclaimed writers and friends, Amin Maalouf and Jean-Christophe Rufin. The election is slated for Thursday, September 28th, and has stirred up unexpected competition in the literary world.
Until Monday, September 25th, it seemed certain that Maalouf, the only candidate at the time, would secure the position. However, Rufin, the author of Rouge Brésil, a medic, and former ambassador, made a surprising announcement of his candidacy. This revelation was particularly startling as Rufin had previously declared that he had no interest in the role and would not put himself forward as a candidate.
Rufin’s Decision: A Desire for Democratic Balance
Rufin’s decision to run appears to be motivated by a quest for democratic balance. He expressed a desire for a genuine election in his letter to Pierre Rosenberg, the dean of the Academy. Rufin stressed the importance of providing the institution with a choice, considering it crucial for the integrity of its decision-making process.
His entry into the race has added a layer of tension to what was previously considered a sure outcome. The Academy now faces the challenge of choosing between two highly esteemed authors, each bringing unique qualifications and experiences to the table.
The Candidates: A Close Look at Their Profiles
Amin Maalouf, 74, a French writer of Lebanese origin, is a laureate of the Prix Goncourt in 1993 for his novel “The Rock of Tanios.” Known for his historical novels inspired by the East, Maalouf has focused his work on the question of the rapprochement of civilizations. A member of the Academy since 2011, his active participation in the institution’s activities and his potential leadership role have garnered widespread support.
On the other hand, Jean Christophe Rufin, 71, a doctor, former diplomat, and winner of the Goncourt Prize in 2001 for his novel “Red Brazil,” joined the Academy in 2008. Despite his initial hesitation to run for the position, Rufin decided to make some sacrifices for what he considers a “great cause.”
Implications of the Election
The outcome of this election carries significant implications for the French literary world. The French Academy, an institution that has defended and developed the French language since 1634, has been directed by only 32 people throughout its history. The secretary-general’s duty is not only to defend the French language but also to seek candidates of great value, making the role a pivotal one within the institution.
In addition to the roles they will play within the Academy, the elected secretary-general will also influence the public image of the institution. The election result will undoubtedly be awaited with great anticipation, marking a defining moment in the history of the French Academy.
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