The French language is a wide and open language, a very living language, and very diverse. The French language doesn’t belong to the French people anymore.
Among politicians, soft power is the name given for the gentle practice of using culture and other indirect means to gain favor and influence. In the United States, Hollywood is a soft power superpower. Fashion, music, and cuisine play similar roles for many other countries.
On the intellectual grading curve, Iron Man and Wonder Woman hardly hold a candle to the giants in the pantheon of French authors. From Albert Camus, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957, to Yasmina Reza, who was Prix Renaudot laureate in 2016, French authors are known equally for their revolutionary insights and romantic expression.
No wonder, then, that this fall, France returns as guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest publishing industry exposition. As Louis Presset of the Institut Francais in Paris told CCC’s Chris Kenneally, the real honor, though, goes to the French language itself.
“We really mean to put the French language as the central guest of this project,” Presset explained. “First of all, we want to [suggest] this idea of hospitality, of openness, of not being a country behind boundaries. But also, the French language is an extremely wide and open language, a very living language, and very diverse. The French language doesn’t belong to the French people anymore.”