Being addressed by Pivot

Being addressed by Pivot
Being addressed by Pivot

1975. I live in France, in Paris. I am 10 years old. My parents watch TV religiously every Friday evening at 9:40 p.m. They absolutely want us to listen as a family, with my four older brothers and sisters, to a new show called Apostrophes. We listened to it religiously until we left France in 1977.

I discover, amazed, a host who always holds his glasses in one hand and a book in the other, greedy for words, greedy for ideas, greedy for literature. I see intellectuals on his set “apostrophizing” each other, I see artistic personalities or politicians debating, and writers being sent off for a walk.

Perhaps it was there, on a Friday evening, thanks to Bernard Pivot, that I developed such a love of books, debates, shouting matches and entertainment!

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THE BEST AND THE WORST

In Quebec, it was on TV5 that we discovered Bernard Pivot. And we saw him welcome many local authors with open arms, who quivered with happiness at each invitation. Gaston Miron, Michel Tremblay, Marie-Claire Blais, Léandre Bergeron, Jacques Godbout, Madeleine Ouellette Michalska, Dany Laferrière, Robert Lalonde, Pierre Falardeau, Lise Bissonnette, Gaétan Soucy or René-Daniel Dubois “made Pivot”… and the list is not exhaustive.

And it was in 1990, on the set ofApostrophes, that Quebecers discovered that our pasionaria Denise Bombardier was capable of standing up to sacred monsters, when these sacred monsters were pedophiles like Gabriel Matzneff. Bernard Pivot had been particularly obliging that evening with Matzneff. He presented him as a charming man: “If there is a real sex education teacher, it’s Gabriel Matzneff, he happily gives lessons.”

Thirty years later, Bernard Pivot explained this by saying: “In the 1970s and 1980s, literature came before morality; today, morality comes before literature. Morally, this is progress. We are more or less the intellectual and moral products of a country and, above all, of an era. What a disappointing explanation! So let’s see! As if it were “morally” acceptable to sodomize minors, and to tell about it in a book, as long as you handle your pen well and put style into it!

We cannot pay tribute to Bernard Pivot without also remembering this immense clumsiness. If there was a man who knew the weight of words, it was him!

Archive photo, AFP

CULTURED BROTH

I am asking you the question, and will not stop asking it until the powers that be answer me: why is there not in Quebec, at the moment, at Télé-Québec and Radio-Canada, our two public broadcasters, of programs entirely devoted to books and ideas?

Why, while booksellers rejoice at the enthusiasm of Quebecers for reading, are there noApostrophes or Culture broth on public television?

Why, to hear our Quebec authors on shows devoted to books, do we have to turn to France and a show like The Great Bookstore?

Why would a 10-year-old girl from 2024, who sits on a Friday evening in front of her TV with her family, have no chance of falling in front of a presenter who is greedy for words, greedy for ideas, greedy for literature?

Who should we “apostrophize” to get things moving?

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