"The French writer Gabriel Matzneff never hid the fact that he engaged in sex with girls and boys in their early teens or even younger. He wrote countless books detailing his insatiable pursuits and appeared on television boasting about them. 'Under 16 Years Old,' was the title of an early book that left no ambiguity.
Matzneff, now 83, spent decades as a French literary darling. His work was supported by leading newspapers and literary publications. He'd appear on highbrow TV shows where he'd regale interviewers and audiences with the sublime pleasures of having sex with children in
His overdue comeuppance is the result of a memoir by one of his victims, Vanessa Springora, who was seduced by a then-50-something Matzneff when she was 14.
"He was not a good man," Springora writes. "He was in fact what we're taught to dread since childhood: an ogre."
In his book "Under 16 Years Old," Matzneff writes, "To sleep with a child, it's a holy experience, a baptismal event, a sacred adventure." The book was first published in 1974 but was republished, apparently with no controversy in 2005. In 2013, Metznaff received a major French literary prize.
How could a country that prides itself on being so enlightened celebrate an ogre? After all, we're not talking about a
The answer stems in part from the fact that Matzneff was a "Child of '68" -- i.e., a product of the left-wing "May 68" movement that shook
Some argued, Onishi writes, "for abolishing age-of-consent laws, saying that doing so would liberate children from the domination of their parents and allow them to be full, sexual beings."
A few years ago,
Matzneff can't make such claims. His whole identity was invested in the seduction of children and teenagers.
America, so backwardly bourgeois in the eyes of these aristocrats, doesn't have
Matzneff is a good example of what can happen when people who share a self-styled radical worldview capture the commanding heights of the culture and consider themselves above the rubes from whom they make their money.
There's a reason
"If you do win an award tonight, don't use it as a platform to make a political speech," Gervais said. "You're in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than
This should be a cautionary tale for all cultural aristocrats. Not all radical fads hold up well over time. Perhaps in 50 years, a memoir from someone who as a child was subjected to hormone blockers to change his or her gender will provoke similar retroactive outrage.
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