Mit­ter­rand mis­tress blames her si­lence on sub­mis­sive child­hood

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

PARIS: For­mer French pres­i­dent Fran­cois Mit­ter­rand’s mis­tress and mother of the daugh­ter he kept hid­den for 20 years blamed her “sub­mis­sive” up­bring­ing for agree­ing to “ac­cept the un­ac­cept­able”, in an in­ter­view broad­cast yes­ter­day. Anne Pin­geot told France Cul­ture ra­dio that grow­ing up in a con­ser­va­tive Catholic house­hold in south­west France she was taught that “a woman should be sub­mis­sive and have no in­tel­lec­tual life.” “My fam­ily was one or two gen­er­a­tions be­hind the times. This was the coun­try­side, it was very re­ac­tionary, very right-wing... Farm­ers in the area were still har­vest­ing with scythes.”

The great love of Mit­ter­rand’s life, who last week pub­lished the 1,218 love let­ters she re­ceived from him over the course of their pas­sion­ate 33-year af­fair, said it took the So­cial­ist leader to “help me ad­vance in another di­rec­tion.” “At the same time that sub­mis­sive side led me to ac­cept the in­ac­cept­able,” the 73-year-old for­mer mu­seum di­rec­tor said. Pin­geot was just 14 when her fa­ther, a car firm ex­ec­u­tive, brought Mit­ter­rand home after a round of golf in Hossegor, a sea­side re­sort in south­west France. Mit­ter­rand, who was mar­ried to Danielle and had two chil­dren, was just a year younger than her fa­ther. But he and Pin­geot were in­stantly smit­ten. “He left an in­deli­ble im­pres­sion,” she said.

Six years later they be­gan an af­fair that con­tin­ued through­out his 1981-1985 pres­i­dency un­til his death of prostate cancer in 1996. Mit­ter­rand’s in­tensely in­ti­mate, beau­ti­fully writ­ten let­ters to his lovers were pub­lished last week un­der the ti­tle “Let­tres a Anne (Let­ters to Anne), 1962-1995.” The in­tensely pri­vate Pin­geot said she agreed to make the let­ters public to en­sure they were not pub­lished “in the wrong way”. “I don’t know if I did the right thing,” she said of the book, which has cat­a­pulted her back into the spot­light, more than 20 years after Mit­ter­rand’s death.

Silent hero­ine

Mit­ter­rand’s af­fair with Pin­geot was an open se­cret among re­porters who cov­ered his pres­i­dency, bound by an un­writ­ten French code of re­spect for the pri­vate lives of public fig­ures. The public was, how­ever, obliv­i­ous to his dou­ble life as head of state and a man mad about a woman and a child with whom he spent much of his free time and hol­i­days.

It was not un­til late 1994, a few months be­fore he left of­fice, that the ex­is­tence of Mazarine was re­vealed in a pic­ture on the front cover of Paris Match mag­a­zine, on the eve of her 20th birth­day. A lit­tle over a year later, Mazarine and her mother were among the mourn­ers at Mit­ter­rand’s funeral, along­side Danielle. Mazarine Pin­geot, now 41 and a pro­fes­sor of phi­los­o­phy, broke her si­lence on her child­hood in 2010 with a book “Bouche Cousue” (which trans­lates as “My Lips Are Sealed”). In the book she de­scribed her mother as “the hero­ine of a film that no one will ever see”.

— AFP

PARIS: This file photo shows late French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Mit­ter­rand (3rd-left), stand­ing be­side Valery Gis­card d’Es­taing (left) and Fran­coise Cachin (right) as they lis­ten to chief cu­ra­tor at the Musee D’Or­say Anne Pin­geot (In Red) dur­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the mu­seum in Paris. The world has long known that Fran­cois Mit­ter­rand had a 33-year af­fair that pro­duced his daugh­ter Mazarine, but only now can the fer­vor of the love be­tween the then French pres­i­dent and his mis­tress be re­vealed.

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