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Because of criticism of Israel: scandal surrounding the French comic star Jacques Tardi

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Jacques Tardi is one of France’s most prominent comic artists. Now the dispute over a book he wrote together with his wife Dominique Grange has led to a Franco-German scandal.
The trigger was the German edition of the book “Elise und die Partisanen” originally planned for January by Hamburg’s Carlsen Verlag.

In it, the 76-year-old Tardi traces the life story of his wife, who was born in 1940 and who made a name for herself as a singer and was active in the 68 protest movement. “Their song ‘Les Nouveaux Partisans’ became the anthem of the resistance movement,” reads the band’s advance notice. “Today she still fights against social inequality and inspires us readers to do the same.”

Accusation of “apartheid”

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However, shortly before publication, Carlsen-Verlag withdrew the title. The occasion was an epilogue by Dominique Grange, in which she apparently takes a very critical look at Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, calling it “apartheid” and also positively referring to the BDS movement, which many experts classify as anti-Semitic.

Withdrawn: on the left the French edition of the controversial book, on the right the provisional cover of the German edition, which is not being published after all.
© Delcourt/Carlsen

That went too far for the Hamburg publishing house. “Carlsen Verlag does not want to take a dedicated position in this conflict and does not want to get involved in the unmanageable discussion – especially with regard to BDS, which is associated with anti-Semitism,” says the statement.

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We are still “convinced of the quality of Dominique Grange’s story and Jacques Tardi’s illustrations, but for us the epilogue cannot be separated from the content”. Those responsible at the publishing house regret “that we did not check the afterword carefully enough and that we will not publish the title”.

Pretend Reasons

In December, Carlsen-Verlag justified the cancellation of the title with advanced arguments. It was also explained to the Tagesspiegel with “licensing reasons”.

Jaques Tardi and Dominique Grange 2014 at the Erlangen International Comic Salon.
Jaques Tardi and Dominique Grange 2014 at the Erlangen International Comic Salon.
© Lars von Törne

The French Delcourt publishing house, which published the book in 2021, was initially given other reasons for the cancellation, as reported by Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR). Delcourt consequently condemned the process as “absurd and undignified censorship” since the personal opinion of the author could not be equated with the opinion of the publisher.

“That’s rude to say the least”

Apparently, Dominique Grange only found out by accident that her book would not be published in German as planned. “It’s rude to say the least,” she said, “hurt,” she told French news agency AFP. She perceives the process as censorship. “The comic has been published in Italian, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese and will soon be available in the US. No problems every time,” she added.

Because of the non-transparent communication of the process, the German translator Ulrich Pröfrock has since terminated his collaboration with the Carlsen publishing house. Pröfrock, who is one of the most renowned comic translators in Germany, accused the Carlsen publishing house of not standing by its own decision and of having relied on the “cloak of silence” for too long. “I think the belief that this can be avoided in a public discussion is misguided,” the BR quoted him as saying. “If you have an attitude, you should represent it.”

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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