François Maspero

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François Maspero (19 January 1932 – 11 April 2015) was a French author and journalist, best known as a publisher of leftist books in the 1970s. He has also worked as a translator, translating the works of Joseph Conrad and John Reed, author of Ten Days that Shook the World, among others.[1] He was awarded the Prix Décembre in 1990 for Les Passagers du Roissy-Express.


François Maspero was born in 1932.[1] His youth was marked by the engagement in the Resistance of his parents and the cultural environment of his family. His father, Henri Maspero, a sinologist and professor at the Collège de France, died at Buchenwald, but his mother managed to return alive from Ravensbrück. His grandfather, Gaston Maspero, who died before his birth, was an Egyptologist.

François Maspero opened a book store in the Latin Quarter in 1955, aged 23. In 1959, in the middle of the Algerian War, he and Marie-Thérèse Maugis formed the Maspero publishing house. They later were joined by Jean-Philippe Bernigaud and Fanchita Gonzalez Batlle, and then by Émile Copfermann. The first two collections, "Cahiers libres" and "Textes à l'appui", focused on the Algerian War from an anti-colonialist perspective, and contestation of the French Communist Party's stalinism. Maspero published Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth (1961), censored, with a preface by Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as L'An V de la Révolution algérienne. Maspero published other testimonies on Algeria, and the use of torture by the French Army, also censored. Besides being faced with lawsuits, Maspero was also the target of bomb attacks.

He republished Paul Nizan, Les Chiens de garde and Aden Arabie, also with a preface from Sartre. Then, he created the review Partisans, which survived until 1973. New-comers start in the Cahiers libres collection, such as Régis Debray in 1967 or Bernard-Henri Lévy in 1973. Georges Perec published his first texts in Partisans. In the 1960s, Éditions Maspero paid particular attention to the problems of the Third World and of neo-colonialism, publishing among others books by Che Guevara. He published Mongo Beti's Cruel hand on Cameroon, autopsy of a decolonization in 1972, which was censored by the Ministry of the Interior Raymond Marcellin on the request, brought forward by Jacques Foccart, of the Cameroon government, represented in Paris by the ambassador Ferdinand Oyono. In 1975, he republished Jean Maitron's classic History of the anarchist movement in France (1880–1914). In 1983, Maspero publishing house was transformed into the Éditions La Découverte, later bought by Vivendi Universal Publishing.In the 1990 and in the beginning 2000 F.M. published several reportages for the French newspaper Le Monde, for example in 2001 a long reportage about a summer passed on the Algerian cost with the title "Deux ou trois choses que j’ai vues de l’Algérie".[2] In 2009 at the 50 anniversary of the Éditions Maspero an exposition in Honor of Francois Maspero "François Maspero et les paysages humains " was organized by Bruno Guichard (Maison des Passages, Lyon) and Alain Léger (Librairie À plus d'un titre, Lyon) in the Musée de l'Imprimerie.[3] In parallel to this exposition a book was edited as an expositioncatologue and Festschrift to honor live and work of Maspero. The title of the book was "François Maspero et les paysages humains" and the book was edited by Bruno Guichard, Julien Hage and Alain Leger.[4]

Maspero was criticized by Situationists such as Guy Debord, who used the term "masperize" to describe the falsification or corruption of a text, as by deleting segments from a quote without marking them.[5][6]


Selected books published by François Maspero[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Author biography in Cat's Grin (London: Penguin, 1988)
  2. ^ Christophe Neff (11 April 2015). "Blognotice 11.04.2015: A la recherche des souvenirs d’un vieux texte de 2001 " Deux ou trois choses que j’ai vues de l’Algérie" de François Maspero ." (in French). Blogs le Monde on 
  3. ^ Edwy Plenel (10 October 2009). "François Maspero, homme livre, homme libre." (in French). Les carnets libres d'Edwy Plenel - Blogs Medias Part on Mediapart. 
  4. ^ Christophe Neff (19 April 2015). "Homme libre – Homme livre: François Maspero." (in French). Blogs le Monde on  description of the book "François Maspero et les paysages humains "
  5. ^ "From Guy Debord To Jean Maitron, Director of the French Institute of Social History and its journal, The Social Movement, 24 October 1968...", accessed 23 February 2007.
  6. ^ accessed 23 February 2007