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French writer forced to quit top post over Breivik essay

Latest update : 2013-07-16

French writer Richard Millet, who caused an uproar late August for praising Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik in a pamphlet, has had to step down from a top position with France’s prestigious publisher Gallimard, though he remains on the payroll.

A writer who argued in an essay that Norway deserved mass-killer Anders Breivik has been forced to step down from a prestigious role with top French publishers Gallimard.

Richard Millet remains a Gallimard employee, the company stressed Friday, but he will no longer sit on its committee of readers, which helps select books for publication and shapes the output of established writers.

Millet will continue to look after the writers he handled for the publishers, Gallimard said.

It remains to be seen how many of them will want to continue to be associated with him following an outcry over a publication branded "fascist" by a group of 120 writers this week.

Antoine Gallimard, chief executive of the publisher, had written to Millet to express his shock at the end of August, soon after the pamphlet "In Literary Praise of Anders Breivik" was published.

On Monday, Gallimard wrote to the writer once more to remind him that "as a member of the committee of readers, he represents the (publishing) house."

Millet's position had been made untenable and he duly announced his resignation from the reading committee late on Thursday.

The writer insists he does not approve of Breivik's crimes but wrote approvingly of the Norwegian's 1,500-page online manifesto which outlines his hatred for social democracy, immigration and multiculturalism.

"Breivik is without doubt what Norway deserves," Millet wrote, arguing that the killer was as much a child of a broken family as he was the product of an ideological-racial divide caused by immigration from outside Europe.

A prolific novelist and essayist, Millet has been the editor of two winners of France's literary prize, the Goncourt -- Jonathan Littel (2006) and last year's winner Alexis Jenni.

Despite a traditional reluctance in France's literary world to do anything which could be seen as restricting the freedom of speech, several Gallimard writers had urged the publisher to distance itself from Millet.

In an article for Le Monde this week, to which 120 writers put their names, novelist Annie Ernaux desribed the essay as a "fascist pamphlet that is a disgrace to literature."

Breivik was sentenced last month to the maximum 21 years in prison for killing 77 people in a bomb attack and shooting rampage last year.

(AFP)

Date created : 2012-09-14

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