Publishing, the Rules of the Trade

Rose bonbon

Nicolas Jones-Gorlin, Gallimard, original edition, 2002, Coll. Bfm - Limoges

In 2002, Gallimard published Rose bonbon, a novel by Nicolas Jones-Gorlin whose main character is a paedophile. Associations for the protection of children made a complaint to the Public Prosecutor, citing the Law of June 17, 1998. It wasn’t a question of hindering ‘artistic freedom’; their argument was that ‘the author is not competent to infringe laws that are common to all’. The Supervisory Committee requested a ban on sales to minors. Antoine Gallimard suspended the publication of the book. Nicolas Sarkozy, then Minister of the Interior, asked him to explain in writing the choice that he, as a publisher, had made. Antoine Gallimard insisted that it was for the reader to form an opinion. Jones-Gorlin defended the effectiveness of fiction: ‘We should explain what paedophilia is, not censor it. I am not making an apology, rather a critique’. (Le Monde, October 6-7, 2002). The SNE (the French publishers’ professional association) considered that the law of 1949 on the protection of minors was ‘useless and dangerous’: what was the point of asking young buyers of Rose bonbon to show their identity papers ‘when they had free access to Pierre Louÿs, Bataille, Nabokov or Bernard Noël’? The Minister of the Interior was persuaded by these arguments and concluded that the ban was not justified.