The French literary world is in shock after a leading publishing director, Vanessa Springora, alleged in a new book that she was groomed into a damaging relationship from the age of 14 with an acclaimed author who was 50, repports The Guardian.
Springora’s book, Le Consentement (Consent), will be published in France in January and has already been met with critical acclaim and sent shockwaves through the close-knit world of Paris intellectuals. It has been described as a #MeToo moment for France’s literary circles.
Springora, 47, the head of the Julliard publishing house, claims that in the 1980s she met the author Gabriel Matzneff at a dinner with her mother when she was 13 and he was 50.
She was a vulnerable teenager whose parents had been through a difficult divorce, she writes. He pursued her with letters and followed her in the street, and she began a relationship with him when she was 14, according to the book.
Springora claims Matzneff would wait for her outside her school and at one point moved into a hotel with her to avoid a visit to his flat from the police, who had received anonymous letters warning of an underage relationship.
Springora claims she ended up skipping school and falling under his control. She details the confusing grooming process and her feeling that because she had consented to the relationship, she must be to blame herself. She describes not understanding what it was to be a victim and the psychological suffering that ensued.
She also describes how the French literary world at the time indulged Matzneff in his publicly stated attraction to many different teenagers. On TV chatshows he described his relationships with teenagers aged over 15. In France, a child under 15 is considered a sexual minor but they can still be considered able to give their consent.
Matzneff also wrote about his relationships with teenagers, including Springora, in novels and published diaries, and about underage sex tourism in the Philippines – all while being hailed as a daring and talented writer.