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CONSENT by Vanessa Springora


A Memoir

by Vanessa Springora translated by Natasha Lehrer

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-06-304788-4
Publisher: HarperVia

Why did French literati stay silent when a prominent writer preyed on the author and other underage victims in Paris in the 1980s?

Springora, a French writer and editor, has sparked a fierce debate in France with accounts of sexual abuse that differ from similar accusations against Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein, and Harvey Weinstein: On the evidence of this book, the perpetrator did not slip drugs into her drinks, have an accomplice recruit her, or threaten to harm her future career. The author writes that after they met at a dinner party, the almost 50-year-old man she calls G.—outed by the media as Gabriel Matzneff—stalked and seduced her when she was 14 and that the abuse continued after anonymous letters tipped off the police. Springora believes she fell prey to his seductions in part because her father had abandoned her after her parents separated, and her mother sympathized with a slogan of the May 1968 radicals, “It’s forbidden to forbid,” a then-popular idea that may also help to explain the inaction of French intellectuals who knew of Matzneff’s relations with minors. The author grew disillusioned, however, after learning that Matzneff had abused others her age and written about it in his books and published diaries. “For his readers, it was merely a story, words,” she writes. “For me, it was the beginning of a breakdown.” Though Springora advances an intriguing theory about who wrote the anonymous letters, she offers little proof. But she is an elegant and perceptive writer whose austere prose resembles that of her compatriot Annie Ernaux. Springora notes that she still suffers from depression caused by the relationship, but she may get the last word: French authorities have charged Matzneff with promoting pedophilia, and he is scheduled to stand trial in 2021.

A chilling story of child abuse and the sophisticated Parisians who looked the other way.