Maurice Druon was born on April 23, 1918. He was a prolific writer and the Perpetual Secretary of the Académie Française. Of his over 50 works, he is most famous for a series of historical novels about the Capétian and Valois kings Philip le Beau to Jean II named Les Rois Maudits (The Cursed Kings). It spawned two different mini-series. I read the first volume in a class at the Alliance Française in Philadelphia last winter. Our teacher told us that France came to a standstill each evening when the original mini-series aired.
My favorite work of his was the Chant des Partisans. He and his uncle translated this resistance hymn from the original Russian text. Hearing it always gives me goose bumps. On the other hand, Druon was a misogynist who opposed the admission of Marguerite Yourcenar into the Académie Française in 1980 saying, “D’ici peu vous aurez quarante bonnes femmes qui tricoteront pendant les séances du dictionnaire,” or basically, that the dictionary sessions of the august body were in danger of being invaded by 40 knitting women. He may have been a fine writer, but I find it hard to forgive him for that one! He died just two years ago this month, at the age of 91.
Today’s expression, le style est l’expression de la pensée (luh steel eh lexpressEon duh lah ponsay) is a Druot quotation from 1977. It means “style is the expression of thought.” I think Maurice Druon looked quite stylish in his official Académie uniform in the photo above, but I bet Marguerite Yourcenar looked even better in hers!
Les Rois Maudits (complete series in French)