Giscard lands Academy spot

Dec. 11, 2003 at 4:13 PM
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PARIS, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- After presiding over the draft European constitution, former President Valery Giscard d'Estaing has scored another coup -- election to the French academy.

Giscard landed the seat of Senegal's famous poet-president Leopold Sedar Senghor, despite some criticism the French statesman was not much of a writer. He becomes the sixth statesman nominated to the academy since its foundation in 1635.

Some Gaullist members tried unsuccessfully to launch an anti-Giscard lobby, but failed to gain a majority. A smattering of demonstrators also protested outside the Paris academy, demonstrating against the former president's murky past dealings in the Central African Republic.

Giscard's fairly forgettable works including a novel, a few essays and a two-volume memoir. But as supporters pointed out, Academy members do not necessarily have to be writers. Rather they must be accomplished academics and help produce the academy's dictionary.

"I have no special training to help with the editing of a dictionary," Giscard joked to reporters during a press conference Thursday. "But I'm approaching an age when the idea immortality becomes a sought after value."

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