Bernard Pivot, this lover of words who transmitted his passion to the French

Bernard Pivot, this lover of words who transmitted his passion to the French

We are talking here about a time that those under 40 cannot experience. The one where TV only offered three channels and where every weekend brought millions of viewers back to the Antenne 2 screen. The architect of this cultural and festive event, launched on January 10, 1975, was called Bernard Pivot. At 39, this native of Lyon is launching a show in the style of a literary salon: “ Apostrophes was a treat, we rushed over every Friday evening,” confirms Raymond, 91, subscriber to Pilgrim. For this great reader, “Bernard Pivot was not talkative, simply spoke to everyone and encouraged everyone to read the classics by inviting authors who were working on them as well as young writers. » We salute the intuition, the bias towards eclecticism and the art of bringing together the popular and literary audiences that we believed to be poles apart.

In 1990, Apostrophes bows out after more than 700 meetings and special broadcasts devoted to monuments of literature. Raymond remembers “the obvious complicity of Bernard Pivot with Jean d’Ormesson, but also of Maurice Genevoix who came several times”. Sometimes, the admiration that the journalist had for writers, and which he overplayed in a mixture of sincerity and malice, could have blinded him. Thus, when, sacrificing to the spirit of the times, he interviewed in a playful tone the writer Gabriel Matzneff (now accused of rape of minors), in March 1990. A lightness that he has since regretted. But posterity will remember his anthology meetings with Marguerite Duras or Alexandre Soljenitsyn, Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1970. “It flew high! » underlines Raymond. At the turn of the 1990s, Bernard Pivot felt the need to broaden his playing field. Cinema, theater… enrich Culture broth, his new show, still on Antenne 2.

The eternal bon vivant

Already, the love of words and language inspired him with the idea of ​​launching the French spelling championship, later renamed Golden dictionaries. He lets his affinities for good wine, football or his Beaujolais region shine through more freely. Entering the Académie des Goncourt fulfills his lover of literature, good food and conviviality. He will chair the jury from 2014 until 2019, the year when he chose to listen to his desire to travel and see more of his loved ones, in particular his two daughters Agnès and Cécile. He then moved away from public life.

The last chapter of his life is dominated by the illness which took him away on May 6. Not only does his name already appear on the fronts of libraries and a local school, but he has entered into Little Robert And Le Petit Larousse, and he invites himself into families. Thus, for Cécile, 30, it is associated with a ritual: “Every summer, in my in-laws' vacation home, once the children have gone to bed, we take Bernard Pivot's dictation book out of the library. One of us takes turns dictating to the others. As a child, spelling exercises made me cry, and I am looking forward to this moment with pleasure! » Bernard Pivot did not believe in the posterity of journalists. He would be surprised.

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