The editor Jean-Claude Fasquelle is dead

Tall and massive, cut like a rugby player, a sport he had played in his youth and that he loved, with big square glasses constantly camping on his nose, Jean-Claude Fasquelle, who directed the Grasset editions at the he golden age of literary prizes, died on Saturday March 13 in Paris, at the age of 90. Its main tour de force was to raise Grasset, in terms of notoriety, to the level of Seuil and Gallimard, while it is a house ten times smaller in size.

Born on November 29, 1930, Jean-Claude Fasquelle fell very early in the pot of publishing. His grandfather Eugène had founded in 1896 the Fasquelle editions, which had merged with the Charpentier editions, the house of Emile Zola, naturalists, Mirbeau and Huysmans, then Rostand and Pagnol. His father, Charles, more passionate about cinema and Africa, briefly ensured the succession, before handing over the business to him in 1953. Jean-Claude Fasquelle was only 23 years old. The house has no more authors or staff. And the Hachette bookstore, already owner of half of the capital, is on the prowl.

The young man rolls up his sleeves and, with his friend François Michel, creates the “Libelles” collection, short texts written by authors he had spotted: François Nourissier, Roger Vailland, Jean Cau, Jacques Audiberti or Bernard Frank. In particular, in 1956, a small literary gem appeared: Praise of Cardinal Bernis, of Roger Vailland, who will become the best friend of Jean-Claude Fasquelle. The young publisher is also embarking on a three-volume musical encyclopedia, under the direction of Igor Stravinsky, which completely dries up the house’s meager cash flow.

In 1960, under the aegis of Hachette, it merged with the Grasset editions, but Jean-Claude Fasquelle and his family keep 13.5% of the capital of the whole, which will not be definitively ceded to Hachette until 2006. On paper, the marriage had everything to fail, between the Grasset house which was strongly compromised during the Occupation and that with the Dreyfus ideals. But against all expectations, the transplant takes between Bernard Privat, nephew of the founder Bernard Grasset and Jean-Claude Fasquelle. They form an effective tandem for twenty years, before the second succeeds the first for a lease, also for twenty years. The only clash will come during the handover, when Jean-Claude Fasquelle will successfully oppose the wish for a time cherished by Bernard Privat to entrust the management of Grasset to Claude Durand. From this refusal will be born a strong enmity between the two men.

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