Giscard d'Estaing joins elite Academie Francaise

16th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 16 (AFP) - Former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing became an "immortal" Thursday, being received in a formal ceremony into France's elite cultural institution, the Academie Francaise.

PARIS, Dec 16 (AFP) - Former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing became an "immortal" Thursday, being received in a formal ceremony into France's elite cultural institution, the Academie Francaise.

Dressed in the traditional cape and cocked hat, sword at his side, the 78-year-old former leader took possession of the seat made vacant by Leopold-Sedar Senghor - the poet-president of Senegal who died in 2001.

The accession came almost exactly a year after a row sparked by claims that Giscard d'Estaing's literay output did not merit his election to the body, whose main purpose is to compile the official French dictionary.

A senior member of the Academie, novelist Maurice Druon, said Giscard d'Estaing's "literary distinctions are as paltry as his aristocratic ones" and poured scorn on his reputed arrogance in a newspaper article.

Giscard d'Estaing is the author of a handful of political books and a romantic novel which was panned by Le Monde newspaper for its "total absence of originality." He was also the driving force behind the drafting of the EU constitution.

However literary talent is seen as an advantage rather than a prerequisite for membership.

The Academie was founded in 1635 by Cardinal de Richelieu and is currently at the letter "R" of its ninth edition of the dictionary.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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