Bernard Pivot (1935-2024) | Farewell to “King Read”

The journalists pass and the writers stay, with one exception: Bernard Pivot.

There is no equivalent in the French-speaking media world of a figure who will forever be associated with the pleasure and importance of reading. Creating Apostrophes in 1975, a show that he hosted live for 15 years at prime time and where the biggest names in literature appeared on his set, as well as Culture broth in 1991, Bernard Pivot democratized the book and its discussion on the small screen, making the writer an essential “pivot” in current affairs. With a big impact on bookstore sales, obviously.

It was not only in France that he played the role of smuggler, since his broadcasts were watched throughout the French-speaking world and, of course, in Quebec. “Moving to Pivot” was a consecration that a few local authors had the privilege of experiencing, notably Gaétan Soucy, Dany Laferrière and Robert Lalonde during the Paris Book Fair in 1999, where Quebec was the guest of honor . I still remember the excitement around the special episode of Culture broth recorded in Quebec in 1996, where the guests were Pierre Falardeau, Lise Bissonnette, Jacques Godbout, Joan Fraser, Neil Bissoondath and René-Daniel Dubois. It was Falardeau who had stolen the show, and we felt Pivot was very interested in the character, of whom he had read extracts from his pamphlet Freedom is not a brand of yogurtwhile Falardeau found the excitement around this special program a little “colonized”.

In fact, we watched Apostrophes And Culture broth especially to discover what animated the French intellectual world, because rants and scandals were frequent.

We never knew what was going to happen on this stage where things were smoking like chimneys, and even more fascinating was to see writers and thinkers messing around in this arena, severely criticized by Deleuze, who was sorry that literature was becoming a show. But like many viewers, I learned so much surrounding looking at books Apostrophes !

And all this in front of a Bernard Pivot who rarely lost his calm – except perhaps with the American writer Charles Bukowski, completely drunk on the set.


Leave a Comment