Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


(39,434 posts)
Thu May 16, 2024, 07:49 AM May 16

Bernard Pivot, Host of Influential French TV Show on Books, Dies at 89


Bernard Pivot, a French television host who made and unmade writers with a weekly book chat program that drew millions of viewers, died on Monday in Neuilly-sur-Seine, outside Paris. He was 89. His death, in a hospital after being diagnosed with cancer, was confirmed by his daughter Cécile Pivot.

From 1975 to 1990, France watched Mr. Pivot on Friday evenings to decide what to read next. The country watched him cajole, needle and flatter novelists, memoirists, politicians and actors, and the next day went out to bookstores looking for the tables marked “Apostrophes,” the name of his show. In a French universe where serious writers and intellectuals jostle ferociously for the public’s attention to become superstars, Mr. Pivot never competed with his guests. He achieved a kind of elevated chitchat that flattered his audience without taxing his invitees.

During the program’s heyday, in the 1980s, French publishers estimated that “Apostrophes” drove a third of the country’s book sales. So great was Mr. Pivot’s influence that, in 1982, one of President François Mitterrand’s advisers, the leftist intellectual Régis Debray, vowed to get rid of the power of “a single person who has real dictatorial power over the book market.”

But the president stepped in to stanch the resulting outcry, reaffirming Mr. Pivot’s power. Mr. Mitterrand announced that he enjoyed Mr. Pivot’s program; he had himself appeared on “Apostrophes” in its early days to push his new memoir. Mr. Pivot met Mr. Mitterrand’s condescension with good humor. The young television presenter’s trademarks were already evident in that 1975 episode: earnest, keen, attentive, affable, respectful and leaning forward to gently provoke.

…President Emmanuel Macron of France, responding to the death on social media, wrote that Mr. Pivot had been “a transmitter, popular and demanding, dear to the heart of the French.” Mr. Pivot’s death took up the front page of the popular tabloid newspaper Le Parisien on Tuesday, with the headline “The Man Who Made Us Love Books.”


This was last Monday; just found out about it now.

When I was a free young man in Paris, Apostrophes ruled the French literary and TV world and France had a President, Mitterrand, who loved reading so much he would have his pilot go into a holding pattern on state visits whenever he was close to finishing a book.

Vive Pivot, vive la literature et vive La France.
Latest Discussions»Culture Forums»Fiction»Bernard Pivot, Host of In...