As a publishing house, the freedom of expression is our top priority - The Point

Boycotted, the next novel from J. K. Rowling ? The creator of the saga Harry Potter is the target, with his british publisher, Hachette UK, the retribution of a

As a publishing house, the freedom of expression is our top priority - The Point

Boycotted, the next novel from J. K. Rowling ? The creator of the saga Harry Potter is the target, with his british publisher, Hachette UK, the retribution of a handful of people creased by a tweet qualified as a " transphobe ". Worried, the latest novel by Timothy de Fombelle ? The publisher of anglo-saxon history, Walker Books, refused to publish the story of Alma, the young heroine black at the time of slavery.

The books that feed our kids go-they need to also fold in the face of heightened sensibilities ? Hedwige Pasquet, director of Gallimard Jeunesse publishing house Rowling in France, invites you to read "further than the title," and recalls the fundamental role of children's literature.

The Point : What is your position on the controversy J. K. Rowling ?

Hedwige Pasquet : The most important thing, according to me, is to dissociate the author from his work. When one considers his work, the Harry Potter, nothing hints of the slightest element of controversy. When one sees the way in which Rowling is committed to defend the oppressed, by the book, and amount in addition to foundation for women or orphans, and when one considers the impact his novels not only on the young people's reading, but also what is not said always, on the writing, since it gave the desire to write to many authors, there is not the slightest doubt. Harry Potter is a novel of initiation. Many of the children have discovered the diversity and openness on the occasion of this reading. It has had an impact on an entire generation. The example of the Mangemorts is eloquent to show his way of dealing with nazism. And nothing, in his work, no evidence to the accusations against him today. Then there is the author. As a publishing house, the freedom of expression is our credo. It is our top priority and we don't have to role to go into a controversy or try the perpetrators.

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Twitter, that J. K. Rowling uses a lot to express personal views, has once again revealed his power that is harmful. Is this the sprinkler sprinkled ?

The famous tweet that sparked the controversy, Rowling wanted to delete it. And then she realized that the devastating effect of his irony had no place to be. To understand, you need to go see on her site, where she took the time to respond to this controversy by a very long text. It evokes a lot of things, and, in doing so, it wanted to explain its position. This position, everyone can then judge it and interpret it in his own way. But you can't deny, or ignore what she wrote. It is necessary to read this text for a true opinion. Moreover, she knows perfectly well that the issue of transgender is a sensitive topic ; if it addresses, it is because it is in her heart. For us, its publishing house, it is not a judgement, favourable or unfavourable. We condemn discrimination in all its forms. What's more, I think that the reputation of the author in this kind of controversy, combined with the amplification of the social network, totally distorts things because they swell considerably more than they should be.

The book will finally be released in Britain ?

there is no doubt about it. The official press release of Hachette UK is absolutely clear. And this is the general position of publishing houses : the freedom of expression is fundamental.

Do you use " sensitive readers ", to us, to sift out the texts before publication ?

No, I prefer to trust the sensitivity of our editors. You know, it takes some courage to be the editor for the youth. It is a commitment and a responsibility. First, we are still very close friends of the author we want to publish the work. A author in which we recognize a talent, which is also chosen for its reader's respect. But in fact, this may apply to subjects that are not always easy. I think some authors such as Melvin Burgess. We were the first to publish it. I remember a title on the drug, and this was not obvious at that time. Then, there was Lady : my life as a dog... A title that was going very far away, but we had reasons to publish it. Burgess believes that his readership is a readership of young people, and that if we are not going to look for the youth with topics that are of interest, it is difficult to bring them to the reading.

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At a time when gone with the wind of controversy, and where we want to minimize Woody Allen in the silence, are you worried that your job changes ?

I think that the pressure on publishers has always existed and that the literature, whether it is youth or not, has always been confronted with controversy. I think it is our role to be able to publish texts that are sufficiently rich and varied so that readers can learn to discover, analyze, critique, and, in fact, learn to cope with this period. I think that children's literature can be a contribution to better understand the issues currently faced by the company.

Is there a theme today that you may not ?

No, no. And I think it would be a shame. This would contribute in the direction of extremism.

with respect to the books of the past, to submit-before you reissue to an ethics committee – or censorship – to validate that they are compliant with our time ? Should they recontextualize ?

" censor board ", I will not go that far, but there are some works for which we may have updates to do. On all the plans. For example, it may be a question of a fixed phone, with a wire, that the children of today know more. In this case, one adapts. It happens also that we do to keep not some of the securities which, in effect, no longer correspond to the times in which we live. We have 5 000 titles in the catalogue, and 15 000 titles published in the past 45 years ! But I'll give you the example of Small tales negro to the children of the Whites, written by Blaise Cendrars in 1928. If it stops at the title, there was the word negro, and one may ask the question of the merits of such a publication today. But if you read the story, you understand immediately that the position of the author was to defend the Blacks and that there is no idea négrophobe associated with the word. I think it is exactly like J. K. Rowling : it is necessary to go farther, don't stop at the first impression, but deepen to form an opinion.

What do you think of the fact that the English publisher of Timothy de Fombelle refuses for the first time to publish in the United Kingdom and the United States ?

Alma is an adventure novel set against the backdrop of history to the time of slavery. In the environments in anglo-saxon countries, this can be experienced in a different way from the way we live in France. But remember that the role of the editor is to accept or reject a text. It is his choice. From our side, we are in contact with other publishing houses ; this text will be created in the anglo-saxon countries.

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Updated Date: 26 June 2020, 14:33

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