Book publications on French politics and political figures, ahead of the 2022 parliamentary elections 

On the 12th and 19th of June 2022, French citizens are electing their 577 Members of Parliament, shortly after the re-election of President Emmanuel Macron (see previous blogpost). If a candidate obtains more than 50% of the votes with a participation of at least 25%, he can be elected as MP in the first round. Otherwise, the second round includes the two candidates who obtained the most votes in the first round, and possibly others who have received more than 12.5 % of the votes of registered electors. This system, which relies on majority rather than proportionality, favours the candidates of the leading political parties, but can also lead to strategic alliances. Continue reading

Publications on Emmanuel Macron, the newly re-elected French president

The French collections at Cambridge University Library include a wide range of works on French contemporary society and politics, aiming to reflect the whole political spectrum. Here, we will shed light on publications relating to Emmanuel Macron who last Sunday was re-elected for a second five-year mandate as president of the French Republic, with 58,5 % of the votes against 41,5 % for Marine Le Pen. In the first round of the elections Macron had received 27.8% of the votes, against 23.1% for Le Pen and 21.9% for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, head of the left-wing, “eco-socialist” party La France Insoumise. Macron received the votes of many citizens who had voted for other candidates in the first round of the elections and did not want Marine Le Pen to be elected. However, it was also the first time the extreme right Front National received such a share of the national vote. Five years ago, in 2017, Macron, who at 39 was the youngest elected French president, since the creation of the office in 1848, had fared better, receiving 66 % of the votes, against only 33.9 % for Marine Le Pen.

Back in 2015, a book by Marc Endeweld (L’ambigu monsieur Macron, Flammarion) C211.c.2573, highlighted the paradoxical choice by the then socialist president François Hollande, of Emmanuel Macron, a liberal-leaning former investment banker at Rothschild & Co., as Economics minister.

The graphic work Faire la loi / scénario, Hélène Bekmezian, Patrick Roger et Aurel (Grenoble : Glénat, 2017) C202.b.1090, which starts with a visual depiction of Emmanuel Macron’s career, explores the administrative and legislative twists and turns which led to the adoption of the 2015 “loi Macron”, a law adopted under article 49.3, i.e. forced through by the government without a vote in the Assemblée Nationale. This “law for growth, activity and equal economic opportunities” facilitated night work and work on Sundays, opened up for competition the coach transport sector, introduced change within regulated professions, etc. It was ideologically mixed, introducing deregulation but also including some aspects of social and state protection, which maybe indicated the direction of Macron’s later presidency.

In the wake of the 2022 presidential elections, the French political landscape still reflects the political earthquake led by Emmanuel Macron, initially a financier and a technocrat, rather than a grassroots politician, who started as a member of the socialist party, but then claimed to be beyond the left / right political divide. His rise to power, shortly after the creation of the En Marche political party (bearing his initials), coincided with a crisis of the traditional right-wing Republicans and left-wing Socialists, and was accompanied by a strengthening and normalisation of the extreme right led by Marine Le Pen. This social and political context is reflected in several publications, starting with Macron’s own political essay, published during the 2017 presidential campaign.

  • Révolution / Emmanuel Macron (XO éditions, 2016) (C213.c.1957) ; translation by Jonathan Goldberg and Juliette Scott (London : Scribe, 2017) (C213.c.4245)
  • Revolution française : Emmanuel Macron and the Quest to Reinvent a Nation / Sophie Pedder  (London : Bloomsbury Continuum, 2018 (Electronic Legal Deposit and Seeley Historical Library DC430 .P43 2018)
  • Macron par Touraine / Alain Touraine ; dialogue avec Denis Lafay (La Tour-d’Aigues : Éditions de l’Aube, 2018) (C214.c.9922)
  • Être postmoderne / Michel Maffesoli ; postface de Hélène Strohl : Emmanuel Macron, icône ou fake de la postmodernité? (Les Éditions du Cerf, 2018) (C214.c.9225)
  • The French exception : Emmanuel Macron : the extraordinary rise and risk / Adam Plowright (London : Icon, 2018) (2018.8.1933)
  • L’événement Macron : un abécédaire historique / Jean-Pierre Rioux (Odile Jacob, 2017) (C205.d.7967)

Some publications, academic or polemical, specifically reflect on the significance of the 2017 presidential elections, marker of disruption in the French political landscape, and on the evolution of the relationship between (election) politics and the media.

  • Le débat Le Pen-Macron du 3 mai 2017 : un débat “disruptif”? / Catherine Kerbrat-Orecchioni ; avec la collaboration de Domitille Caillat et Hugues Constantin de Chanay (L’Harmattan, 2019) (C216.c.298)
  • Le vote disruptif : les élections présidentielle et législatives de 2017 / sous la direction de Pascal Perrineau (SciencesPo, les presses, 2017), (C205.d.7145)
  • Le moment Macron : un président et l’Histoire / Jean-Noël Jeanneney (Éditions du Seuil, 2017) (C205.d.5188)
  • Macron : miracle ou mirage? / Pierre-André Taguieff (Éditions de l’Observatoire, 2017) (C214.c.1584)
  • The French exception : Emmanuel Macron – the extraordinary rise and risk / Adam Plowright (London : Icon Books, 2017) (2017.8.5269)
  • Zéro de conduite : carnets d’après-campagne / Michel Onfray (Éditions de l’Observatoire, 2018) (C205.d.9945)
  • Histoire d’une révolution électorale (2015-2018) / sous la direction de Bruno Cautrès et Anne Muxel (Classiques Garnier, 2019) (C215.c.2576)
  • Jupiter et Mercure : le pouvoir présidentiel face à la presse / Alexis Lévrier (Les Petits Matins, 2021) (C206.d.7705)

In the context of the important powers given to French presidents under the Constitution of the Vth Republic, during his first mandate, Emmanuel Macron, who has been particularly active in international and European politics, has been criticised for an authoritarian practice of government, especially in the context of the Gilet jaunes socio-political protest movement. Although he came from a left / centrist political background, he has also been perceived as part of a disconnected, haughty (urban, educated, liberal) elite showing little understanding of the everyday struggles of some French people.

  • Les politiques sociales sous Macron / Mehdi Arrignon (Grenoble : PUG, 2022) (C207.d.74)
  • Macron, les leçons d’un échec / Marcel Gauchet (Stock, 2021) (C217.c.9736)
  • Macrons neues Frankreich / La nouvelle France de Macron : Hintergründe, Reformansätze und deutsch-französische Perspektiven / Contextes, ébauches de réforme et perspectives franco-allemandes / Dietmar Hüser, Hans-Christian Herrmann. Adolf, Kimmel, (Bielefeld : transcript-Verlag, 2021), de Gruyter eBooks Complete  (Online Access)
  • L’entreprise Macron / Bernard Dolez, Julien Fretel, Rémi Lefebvre (dir.) (Fontaine : PUG, 2019) EBSCOhost Ebook Academic Collection (Online Access)
  • Le président sur la corde raide : les enjeux du macronisme / Roland Cayrol (Calmann Lévy, 2019) (C215.c.9245)
  • Crépuscule / Juan Branco. (Vauvert : Au diable Vauvert, 2019) (C206.d.2234)
  • Emmanuel le magnifique : chronique d’un règne / Patrick Rambaud (Bernard Grasset, 2019) (C206.d.1529)
  • La politique est un métier / Michaël Darmon (Éditions de l’Observatoire, 2019) (C215.c.5947)
  • Dieu, la République et Macron : cuisine et confessions / Salomon Malka (Les Éditions du Cerf, 2019) (C206.d.1597) 
  • Macron, ou, La démocratie de fer / Michaël Darmon (L’Archipel, 2018) (C215.c.1889)

Several publications take a historical perspective, comparing his type of (personal, absolutist, self-proclaimed ‘Jupiterian’) government with that of earlier presidents, and placing it in the perspective of wider social and cultural developments within contemporary French society. For Jean Viard, the bigger picture of Macron’s ascent to power is that while French society became less industrial, more digital and collaborative, and with the growth of a global ecological thinking, the old idea of a class struggle has been superseded by the development of groups promoting community, regional and religious interests…

  • La République incarnée : de Léon Gambetta à Emmanuel Macron / Jean Garrigues (Perrin, 2019) (C214.c.8966) 
  • Chronique française : de Mitterrand à Macron / Jean Viard (La Tour d’Aigues : Éditions de l’Aube, 2018) (C214.c.4913)

Some essays look into how Emmanuel Macron’s relation with the philosopher Paul Ricoeur whom he assisted in editing La mémoire, l’histoire, l’oubli (Seuil, 2000, 180:2.c.200.165). In contrast with previous president’s Nicolas Sarkozy strong anti-intellectualist stance, Macron’s own political engagement may have been encouraged by his mentor. The influence of Ricoeur might appear in Macron’s understanding of the importance (and disillusion with the outcomes) of dialectics, translated into public and societal debate; in his search for a pragmatic politics beyond traditional left and right divisions; in the idea of a permanently changing and evolving national identity; in the promotion of man’s will and “capability”; or in the “neo-protestant” promotion of transparency… However, some argue that practical politics can only betray the nuance and complexity of a philosophers’ thoughts.

  • Le philosophe et le Président : Ricoeur & Macron / François Dosse (Stock, 2017) (C214.c.3915)
  • Macron, ou, Les illusions perdues : les larmes de Paul Ricoeur / François Dosse (Le Passeur éditeur, 2022) (C207.d.547)
  • Macron par Ricœur : le politique et le philosophe / Pierre-Olivier Monteil (Lemieux éditeur, 2017) (C205.d.7062) 
  • Macron, un président philosophe / Brice Couturier (Les Éditions de l’Observatoire, 2017) (C214.c.3808)
  • Le nouveau pouvoir / Régis Debray (Les éditions du Cerf, 2017) (2018.7.361) 

In a follow up blogpost, and in the light of the forthcoming French parliamentary elections, we will have a look at publications relating to other politicians involved in the presidential elections.

Irene Fabry-Tehranchi

#MeToo in France and French literary and academic publications

The #MeToo movement exposes and confronts sexual abuse and harassment. Its hashtag spread virally on social media in the context of accusations of sexual assault held against the American film producer Harvey Weinstein in the autumn of 2017. The movement has had huge international social and political repercussions, and has inspired or shaped academic works in a variety of fields, including history, philosophy and literature.

In the field of library classifications, the Library of Congress subject heading “MeToo movement” was created in 2020, and uses sources defining it as a movement “launched in 2006 in the United States to assist survivors of sexual violence, especially females of colour” (Encyclopedia Britannica online), which “burgeoned across social media, moving beyond Twitter and into living rooms and courtrooms” (Routledge handbook of the politics of the #MeToo movement, 2021), “revealed sexual abuse in every sphere of society” (Ruth Everhart, The #metoo reckoning, 2020), and intends “to create solidarity among survivors of sexual harassment” (Center for American Progress website). As social media played such an important role in the spread of the #MeToo movement, the Library of Congress also contributed to recording it through the compilation of a Web archive. We can also mention the #metoo Digital Media Collection built by the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, at Harvard University.

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A few notes on COVID-19 in France and the UK, at Cambridge UL, and in French publications

As in other parts of society, the pandemic has been challenging on both a professional and personal level and has affected University library staff in a number of ways. In France and the UK, the public understanding and political reaction to the coronavirus pandemic started in mid to late March 2020. On 11 March, the World Health Organisation classified COVID-19 as a pandemic. In France, visits to retirement homes were forbidden. On 12 March, all French nurseries, schools and universities were closed, and on 13 March, all non-essential public places. Although on 15 March the first round of city council elections was controversially maintained, on 16 March President Emmanuel Macron banned all non-essential travel and announced a mandatory home confinement – which was eventually extended until 11 May. At the beginning of June, cafés and restaurants were allowed to reopen and the travel ban of 100 km was lifted; later in June, leisure centres and schools reopened, as well as travel with non-EU countries from 1 July. From 24 July, face coverings became compulsory in all public indoor spaces. Later in the autumn and winter 2020-2021, with new peaks of infections, more sanitary measures were reinstated, including curfews (as well as the compulsory, but much derided, ‘Autorisation de sortie’ outing forms) and closure of restaurants and museums. Since July 2021, a Health pass (also controversial, and implying full vaccination, a negative test of, or a certificate of recovery from Covid) is required to attend venues of over 50 people.

In the UK, after initial advice against non-essential travel and attending leisure venues, on 23 March 2020 schools were closed and Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a stay-at-home order, banning social gatherings, and restricting non-essential travel and outdoor activity. At Cambridge University Library, most people working in our Collections and Academic Liaison department started working from home on 23 March 2020; a few members of staff decided to go on furlough. Some relaxation of the lockdown happened in England on 10 May, when those who could not work from home were advised to go to work, and outdoor exercise was not restricted anymore. In June, some classes reopened in primary schools. From 8 June, a 14-days self-isolation was required for travellers entering England from abroad, which lasted until 2 July, when this was relaxed for a large number of countries (the quarantine was suddenly re-established for travellers returning from France from 15 August). The wearing of face coverings was only required on public transport from 15 June, and in indoor shops and public spaces from 24 July. In England, with a new wave of infections, a three-tier framework was introduced in the autumn, then a second lockdown took place in November 2020, and a third one from January to March 2021. With an increased number of vaccinations, a gradual reopening took place until the month July, despite the development of the new Delta variant.

While the library was closed in the spring of 2020, print books were not accessible to readers anymore, and there was a huge emphasis on electronic resources, with additional resources made available for the purchase of large anglophone ebook packages, notably EBSCO Ebook Academic Collection and Proquest Academic Complete (see for example the bibliography of e-resources on Black Lives Matter and decolonisation in the Francophone world), but it also meant some cuts to the budgets for foreign languages acquisitions. A number of publishers (including French language Classiques Garnier, Brepols, Cairn, Droz…) helpfully opened up for free their databases and ebooks or ejournals collections, as a temporary measure, because of the lockdown. A major development in French ebooks acquisitions was the creation of the Amalivre ebooks online platform – long awaited, it was finally released in May 2021!

Working from home also enabled us to work on different cataloguing projects. At the end of June and beginning of July 2020, some University Library staff went back into the building (with new social distancing procedures), and new zero-contact services were introduced: Click and collect, for readers to order and borrow books; and Scan and Deliver of articles and parts of print books which were sent by email as digital files. In August 2020, readers were able to Book a visit and consult non-borrowable material, and the Ask a curator service was opened for enquiries regarding Special collections. Collections and Academic Liaison staff only resumed coming back to work in the building from August onwards and then took part in the Print Operations Recovery, with streamlined workflows for processing and cataloguing print books, especially readers’ requests. In September 2020, faculty libraries also started to reopen.

From November 2020, the second lockdown and third lockdown in England drastically reduced the number of Collections and Academic Liaison staff allowed to work in the department, a situation which lasted until May 2021. During that time, I had a baby girl and was on maternity leave, just after having trained (remotely) a new French assistant, with the help of my colleagues! From May onwards, more staff and readers were able to come back into the buildings, including to consult Rare books and Manuscripts; the Ghost Words: Reading the past exhibition on palimpsest manuscripts finally opened in the Milstein centre. From mid-September 2021, it has no longer been necessary for readers to book a place before visiting the University Library (apart from those using Special collections). There are now more readers in the building, which had been extremely quiet, but the footpath at the beginning of this new academic year is still quite reduced compared to previous years. We are also looking forward to the forthcoming display of 1870-71 Franco-Prussian caricatures on the first floor of the University Library. As for the Collections and Academic Liaison department, the rules on its occupancy level have been relaxed, and more people are now expected to come into the library to work, especially as some reader services such as late duties and Saturday duties have now resumed, though we still currently expect to continue to work in a hybrid way, partially from the office and partially from home…

As is to be expected, the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown led to a number of creative, analytic or polemic French language publications (see the new Library of Congress Subject Heading ‘COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020’).

In France, the introduction of the ‘Pass Sanitaire’ is one of the latest rules which has led to social and political protests and demonstrations.

Acquisitions for the French collections (some on order) include so far:

  • Personal testimonies
    • the diary Sine die : chronique du confinement (19 mars-12 mai 2020) / Éric Chevillard; dessins de François Ayroles, L’Arbre vengeur, 2021 (C206.d.6483)
    • Covid-19, témoignages de Guinée : le livre au service de la lutte contre la Covid-19 / Kaba Diakité, Sansy, L’Harmattan, 2020 (C217.c.7453)
    • La vague : l’épidémie vue du terrain / Piarroux, Renaud, CNRS, 2020 (C217.c.7298)
    • Tracts de crise : un virus et des hommes, 18 mars-11 mai 2020, Gallimard, 2020 (C206.d.7770)
    • the graphic novel Au coeur de la vague / Chappatte, Les Arènes, 2020 (Prix franceinfo de la BD 2021, on order)
  • Artistic and literary works produced during the lockdown
    • Soukhos: Heng Long Leather / Raphaël Barontini, RVB Books, 2020 (S950.a.202.181);
    • Les murs du confinement : street art et Covid-19 / Marie Christian et Cyrille Benhamou, Omniscience, 2020 (S950.e.202.2)
    • or the poetry collection by André Velter Séduire l’univers / avec sept tracés sonores de Jean Schwarz; précédé de À contre-peur avec quatre ciels de Marie-Dominique Kessler, Gallimard, 2021 (C206.d.6728)
  • Philosophical and psychological reflexions on the pandemic
    • Jean-Luc Nancy, Un trop humain virus, Bayard, 2020 (C206.d.7660)
    • Michel Onfray, La vengeance du pangolin : penser le virus, Robert Laffont, 2020 (C217.c.7297)
    • Vulnérables : une philosophie du risque / Alain Renaut et Geoffroy Lauvau, PUF, 2021 (C206.d.6953)
    • Lucien Ayissi, Méditations philosophiques d’un confiné sur coronavirus suivies de Dix méditations supplémentaires, L’Harmattan, 2021 (C217.c.4338)
    • Bruno Latour, Où suis-je? leçons du confinement à l’usage des terrestres,  La Découverte, 2021 (C206.d.7828)
    • Jean-Claude Kaufmann, C’est fatigant, la liberté … une leçon de la crise, Éditions de l’Observatoire, 2021 (C217.c.4410)
  • Works on the social aspects and consequences of the sanitary crisis
    • Covid : anatomie d’une crise sanitaire / Jean-Dominique Michel, Humensciences, 2020 (C217.c.7688)
    • Le monde d’aujourd’hui : les sciences sociales au temps de la Covid, dir. M. Lazar, G. Plantin et X. Ragot, Presses de la Fondation nationale des sciences politiques, 2020 (C206.d.7868)
    • Personne ne bouge : une enquête sur le confinement du printemps 2020 sous la direction de Nicolas Mariot, Pierre Mercklé et Anton Perdoncin, Univ. Grenoble-Alpes, 2021 (C217.c.794)
    • La société malade / Jean-Pierre Le Goff, Stock, 2021 (C217.c.4169)
    • L’explosion des inégalités: classes, genre et générations face à la crise sanitaire sous la direction de Anne Lambert et Joanie Cayouette-Remblière, Éditions de l’Aube, 2021 (C217.c.3445)
    • Sorbonnavirus : regards sur la crise du coronavirus, dir. Pierre-Marie  Chauvin et Annick Clement, Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2021 (C206.d.7771)
  • Writings on its political implications
    • La grande confusion : comment l’extrême-droite gagne la bataille des idées / Philippe Corcuff, Textuel, 2020 (C217.c.5331)
  • Analyses of its effects on the urban landscape and environment
    • La résurrection des villes face à la Covid-19 : les opportunités de la revitalisation et la régénération urbaines sous la direction de Marie-Christine Steckel-Assouère, L’Harmattan, 2021, Amalivre ebook
    • Guy Burgel, Ville et Covid : un mariage de raisons, Karthala, 2021 (C217.c.7835)

Irène Fabry-Tehranchi

Covid-19 in literature

Published in May 2020

Telling stories has long been a way for humans to make sense of life’s many events. Little more than a year has passed since the beginning of the first UK lockdown, and we already know that huge amounts have been published about the current pandemic, chiefly online and prominently in the sciences and social sciences. In this blog post we present some of the stories authors are telling about and around COVID-19. 

In her book Viral Modernism: the Influenza Pandemic and interwar literature, Elizabeth Outka reveals that, even if the 1918-1919 pandemic ‘faded from historical and cultural memory […], [and was] overshadowed by World War One and the turmoil of the interwar period’, it in fact ‘shaped canonical works of fiction and poetry’, to the extent of framing modernism with its ‘hidden but widespread presence’. 

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