The book of an alleged child rapist suspended following death threats against a French publisher

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A French publishing house announced on Monday that it had suspended plans to publish a book by writer Gabriel Matzneff, currently under investigation for alleged child rape, after staff at the Nouvelle Librairie in Paris received “death threats”.

The 86-year-old Matzneff made no secret of his preference for sex with underage teenagers, speaking at length about his activities on television and publishing an essay in the 1970s titled “Les Sous de Seize Ans” (“Less of 16”).

Despite an ongoing legal investigation involving the author, the Paris-based Nouvelle Librairie had planned to publish a new collection of his articles titled “Last Writings Before the Massacre”.

In a statement on Monday, the company said “we have found ourselves forced to indefinitely postpone the release” of the book.

“Some reactions were totally disproportionate. At a time when freedom of expression is dangerously losing ground, Nouvelle Libraire intends to defend it.

From laureate to pariah

“But it cannot accept the serious death threats made against its staff, whom it must protect,” added the publisher, adding that the company had already been the target of acts of vandalism.

As recently as 2013, Matzneff was feted by a wide swath of the French literary establishment, winning the prestigious Renaudot Prize for a previous collection of essays.

Her status changed following the publication in 2020 of a book by prominent publisher, Vanessa Springora, describing how she was cared for by Matzneff when she was 14.

In the wake of the “MeToo movement”, Springora’s “Consent” book was a turning point, encouraging others to come forward with abuse allegations against Matzneff – as well as sparking wider discussion about the prevalence of pedophilia in French society.

Given that no recent victims have come forward to charge Matzneff, he may not stand trial, as Springora’s allegations date back to the 1980s and now exceed the legal deadline established by the statute of limitations.

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