François Maspero

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François Maspero (born 19 January 1932 in Paris)[1]) is 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's 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.

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.[2][3]


Selected books published by François Maspero[edit]

See also[edit]