Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Françoise Giroud - Warrior

To many, Françoise Giroud, born Lea France Gourdji in September 1916 to Turkish-Jewish parents, was an example of a woman who handled power with uncommon grace. Giroud, who died in January 2003 at age 86, served as France’s minister of culture. In 1953, she co-founded the influential political weekly L’Express to advance the agenda of French-Jewish politician Pierre Mendès France, who soon after was elected prime minister. Journalist for a number of leading weeklies and author of more than two dozen books, from novels to biographies (of Alma Mahler and of Karl Marx’s wife, Jenny, among other liberated women), and advocate of women’s rights, Giroud epitomized a successful career woman at a time when such were still rare in France.

Yet, as “Françoise,” an admiring, unsparing new biography that appeared from Les editions Grasset on the anniversary of her death, January 19, underlines, Giroud’s success came at the cost of genuine inner torment. The book’s author, Laure Adler, herself a noted journalist, quotes eminent French-Jewish statesman Robert Badinter, who states that Giroud was a “warrior.” And indeed, she had plenty to fight against during her long and storied career.

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