Portrait of the politician, with books

Photo: Antoine Plamondon
Louis-Joseph Papineau was immortalized in oil in front of his library in 1834.

In 1834, the painter Antoine Plamondon immortalizes, oil, Louis-Joseph Papineau. The leader of the canadian Party puts in front of its library. Surrounded by books, authors devoted : Thomas Jefferson, Charles James Fox, Demosthenes, Aristotle, Montesquieu. It is the reassuring picture of the man of the Enlightenment ; that of the literate, the drive capable of empathy and discovery. An image that like to reflect and powerful politicians, then as now. The personal library remains a vital stepping stone to the vanity policies. Before-last of five looks on the personal libraries.

For his official portrait of the 25th president of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, before the shooting, has carefully chosen the page where it would leave the book war Memoirs of general de Gaulle opened, in the background. Out-of-frame, two cell phones, which are essential contemporary tools, and books of Stendhal, and André Gide. The book is used here as an attribute of power.
 

Other places, same morals : before leaving the White House in the hands of Donald Trump, Barack Obama gave, as a counterpoint, an interview with the New York Times. He stated that books have been his secret to survive his eight years in power. In this era where the events follow one another so rapidly and when so much information is flowing, the reading, he said, is the opportunity to slow down, take a step back, and give themselves the ability to don the shoes of another. Even the science-fiction helped. “My trouble with the Congress seemed small beer, really ridiculous, when the aliens were about to invade the Earth. “


Photo: Renaud Philippe The Duty
The historian Jonathan Livernois is studying the use that were made by politicians in quebec of the book through time.

In Quebec, policies have also served in all of eternity books as a stool to climb in the eye of the other. As if the shimmer to appear literate could reassure the voter. But, we must not, paradoxically, not too much to do chatoyer. Between the Lights and the populism, the game of illusions must be balanced. “Ideally, we want politicians to be literate,” says the historian of the literature Jonathan Livernois. “We hope for a politician that it has the general culture which will enable him to understand in what world he is ; that he is able to get out of problems from the news and the small day to day management ; that his general culture gives meaning to its policy ; that it is, yet, able to locate themselves politically, historically, culturally. “

 

Professor, Department of literature, theatre and cinema from the Université Laval, is studying the use that were made by politicians in quebec of the book through time. In the Nineteenth century, the politician here will be displayed, and ostensibly, with his library and his books. “It is then in this kind of regime polygraph that need to the posture of romantic “man of letters, man of State”. “We see it in, among others, the letter’s ultimate Chevalier de Lorimier, signed for posterity ; the home of Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau, novelist, collector of rare books, prime minister from 1867 to 1873 ; at Felix-Gabriel Marchand, journalist and premier from 1897 to 1900.

 

The pros of the policy

 

But in the Twentieth century, when politics is professionalized, these polygraph bourgeois and gentlemen give way, little by little, the politicailleux. “We often forget that Duplessis, at the beginning of his career, is a to be policed, a gentleman, a lawyer,” recalls Mr. Livernois, who has just completed writing a history of the duplessisme. “He changed in the 1930s, when he discovers the populism and that he takes lessons, can we say, in Camillien Houde. “The members, now, are lawyers of the province, merchants, small doctors, sometimes workers or farmers. “We no longer take a picture with books “, emphasises the professor.

 

Except in certain cases, such as that of Antonio Barrette, the successor of Duplessis. “Less educated, worker, nicknamed “the prime minister at the lunch box”, Module puts emphasis on its library, pushing the fact that he is a reader, that he has 5,000 books, which is that he is self-taught — this question of the self-made man is very important, ” says Livernois. Module is a clear example of cultural capital as it tries to transform it into political advantage, a strategy which has ongoing even today.


Photo: Gabor Szilasi
Gérald Godin sews the hiatus of the duplessisme in seeing the political perspective poetic.

Then came Gérald Godin, cantouqueux, talented poet and minister, who sews the hiatus of the duplessisme in seeing the political perspective is poetic, “not naive, not thinking that the words will change the world, says the historian, but with what he calls the words-” citizens : a vision of diversity, which advocates that people like the words are going to destabilize you more than you’re going to destabilize “. The ministers pq members, at the turn of the 1980s, are also often considered to be literate, Bernard Landry and his great library in mind.

Michael Ignatieff, the intellectual full of diplomas, crashed to death at the head of the liberal Party, and Justin Trudeau is elected, and it’s going super well. The politician does not have to be an intellectual, but one wishes that it was this culture, this attention to culture.
Jonathan Livernois, historian of literature

Literature electoral

 

Display drive, so. In this paradox, where the literary and the intellectuals yet it’s not necessarily good politicians, far from it. “Michael Ignatieff, the intellectual full of diplomas, crashed to death at the head of the liberal Party, and Justin Trudeau is elected, and it’s going super well. The politician does not have to be an intellectual, but one wishes that it was this culture, this attention to culture. “

 

Today, what is the relationship of our policies in the literature ? “It is used purely electioneering “, laments Mr. Livernois, leaving a photo of the Twitter feed of the ex-minister of Culture Luc Fortin, where we see the exchange of books with the prime minister Philippe Couillard during the last international Day of poetry. “Mr. Fortin gives a collection of Paul-Marie Lapointe” because it comes from the Lac-Saint-Jean “, a region whose Couillard is responsible, while the poet has left the area around its 17 years. And Couillard gives him a collection of Mathieu K. Blais of Sherbrooke, shire of Fortin. Here, the geographic origin seems to be the only criterion, as if the author was a local celebrity “, in the same way as a cabinet-maker or a manufacturer of cider.

 

“They are the “political capital” on the backs of the books, so not even subtle. This is amazing, especially that Couillard is a true player. We have seen about literature, in the interview, and not only on the surface. But we now see politicians that will almost hide the fact that they are readers, reducing their experience to something electioneering, very small, and culturally. And it reduces the literature. The comments of Fortin and Couillard, upon the death of Réjean Ducharme, for example, lingered not at all in content, literary ; they would be equally able to apply to texts of Marc Fisher. You always hope that politicians will we get to the top. But currently, I do not think that this is the case. “

 

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