Prestigious French publisher Gallimard is pulling controversial writer Gabriel Matzneff’s writing from its shelves after details of his seduction of a young teen 36 years his junior emerged.
The publishing house said it was the first time in its 140-year history it had taken such a radical step.
The move comes as the award-winning essayist Matzneff, 83, is being investigated in France, after leading French publisher Vanessa Springora, 47, wrote a book detailing how he seduced her, 33 years ago, when she was just 14.
The elderly author, denies any wrongdoing, insisting there was an ‘exceptional love’ between him and Springora.
However, amidst a public outcry and the police investigation, Gallimard has decided to recall all the journals the octogenarian had written under its brand since 1990 to his latest;’The Lover at the Arsenal’, which came out in November.
‘The exceptional measure which we have taken is justified to make sure the suffering that Vanessa Springora recounts’ in her book is heard,’ the publishing house said in a statement.
The dramatic move comes a day after the French culture minister stripped the writer of his special state pension and the weekly magazine Le Point dropped him as a columnist.
Matzneff, who won the prestigious Renaudot prize in 2013, has never made any secret of his sexual preference for adolescent girls and boys.
In 1974 he published a notorious essay titled ‘Les Moins de Seize Ans’ (The Under 16s) in which he was frank about his obsessional ‘taste’ for underage partners.
He was even more explicit in his 1990 book, ‘Mes amours decomposes’ (My Loves Deconstructed), which describes sexual relationships with teenagers aged between 14 and 16.
It is illegal in France for an adult to have sex with anyone under 15.
He told French television at the time that he preferred ‘to have people in my life who are not hardened and who are still kind.
‘A very young girl is rather sweeter, even if she becomes very quickly hysterical and just as crazy as she will be when she is older,’ he added.
Despite raising eyebrows, Matzneff continued to publish and there was little controversy when he picked up the Renaudot prize six years ago.
Last week after publisher Vanessa Springora described in great detail her tortured relationship with the writer in a book titled ‘ Le Consentement [Consent]’.
In it she described how Matzneff, then in his fifties, would wait for her outside her school and then take her to his home for sex.
‘At 14 you are not supposed to be picked up from school by a man of 50 and find yourself in his bed with his penis in your mouth (instead of a biscuit) at teatime,’ Springora wrote.
Police subsequently opened its investigation, and there was significant public backlash against the elderly author.
Matzneff denies he did anything wrong and said the publisher had tried to portray him as ‘a pervert, a manipulator and a predator’.
The case has shone a light on what many see as an overly permissive attitude towards sexual harassment and paedophilia in France.
Recently the French film establishment has also been rocked by rape accusations against directors Roman Polanski and Luc Besson, while star Adele Haenel said she was sexually harassed by the director of her first film when she was 12.
All three men deny the claims.