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Mr. Speaker, from Annie Ernaux

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Faced with the coronavirus and the containment it causes, Gallimard publishes one or two " Crisis leaflets "signed by the great feathers of the House such as Erik Orsenna, Sylvain Tesson, Cynthia Fleury, Régis Debray or Danièle Sallenave, in order to reflect on the questions raised by the epidemic and to keep the link with the reader. 30 titles have been published to date. UP' has chosen to offer you each day an extract from a selected text and author.


Mr. President, "I'm writing you a letter/ Which you may read/ If you have time. » For those of you who are keen on literature, this introduction probably evokes something. It's the beginning of Boris Vian's song... The DeserterThe book was written in 1954, between the Indochina and Algerian wars.
Today, even though you proclaim it, we are not at war, the enemy here is not human, not our fellow man, he has neither the thought nor the will to harm, he ignores borders, conditions... social, reproduces blindly by jumping from one individual to another. Weapons, since you're sticking to this warrior lexicon, are hospital beds, respirators, masks and tests, it's the number of doctors, scientists, nurses and orderlies is medical research. Yet, since you have been in power in France, you have remained deaf to the cries of alarm from the health world, which for months had been calling for resources, and what was written on the banner of a demonstration last November - The State is counting its pennies, the dead will be counted - resounds tragically today.

You preferred to listen to private interests, to those who advocate the disengagement of the state, the optimization of resources, in that fleshless technocratic language that drowns out the fish of reality. But look, it is the public services which, at the moment, are mainly responsible for the functioning of the country, hospitals first - private clinics, however, have little to do with your war effort - the National Education system and its thousands of teachers, its thousands of poorly paid teachers, the Post Office, the EDF. Those whom you once said were nothing are now everything, those who continue to empty the dustbins, to type the products at the cash registers, to deliver pizzas, to guarantee at least this indispensable life, the material life.

Strange choice that the word "resilience", meaning reconstruction after trauma. We're not there yet.

Beware, Mr President, of the effects of this time of confinement, of upheaval in the course of things. It is a time for reflection, for questioning, a time to imagine a new world. Not the one that you have always praised and which, at certain signs, we may fear will resume without delay. Decision-makers and financiers are already shamelessly repeating the neo-liberal antiphon of "working more", up to 60 hours a week, advocating "maintaining the markets". And who is to say that the laws that restrict our freedom today will not continue tomorrow?

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Annie ErnauxCrisis Leaflets" n°29, Gallimard, 2 April 2020 - 10:00 am

See all catalogue " Crisis leaflets " Gallimard

To go further:

  • You've been deaf to the alarm calls "from Annie Ernaux, Interior LettersAugustin Trapenard's new chronicle on France Inter, the great writer writes to the President of the Republic, denouncing a policy that has led the country into a situation of extreme health emergency. A landmark not to be lost sight of.

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