Mercure de France
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The "Mercure de France" was a French gazette and literary magazine first published from 1672 to 1724 (with an interruption in 1674-1677) under the title "Mercure galant" (sometimes spelled "Mercure gallant") (1672-1674) and "Nouveau Mercure galant" (1677-1724). The title was changed to "Mercure de France" in 1724. The gazette was briefly suppressed from 1811 to 1815 and ceased publication in 1825. The name was revived in 1889 for both a literary review and (in 1894) a publishing house initially linked with the symbolist movement. Since 1995 the "Mercure de France" has been part of the Éditions Gallimard publishing group.
The modern "Mercure de France"
At the end of the 19th century, the name "Mercure de France" was revived by Alfred Vallette. Vallette was closely linked to a group of writers associated with Symbolism who regularly met at the café "la Mère Clarisse" in Paris (rue Jacob), and which included: Jean Moréas, Émile Raynaud, Pierre Arène, Remy de Gourmont, Alfred Jarry, Albert Samain and Charles Cros. The first edition of the review appeared on January 1, 1890.
In 1889, Alfred Vallette married the novelist Rachilde whose novel Monsieur Vénus was condemned on moral grounds. Rachilde was a member of the editorial committee of the review until 1924 and her personality and works did much to publicize the review. Rachilde held a salon on Tuesdays, and these "mardis du Mercure" would become famous for the authors who attended.
Like other reviews of the period, the "Mercure" also began to publish books (beginning in 1894). Along with works by symbolists, the "Mercure" brought out the first French translations of Friedrich Nietzsche, the first works of André Gide, Paul Claudel, Colette and Guillaume Apollinaire and the poems of Tristan Klingsor. Later publications include works by: Henri Michaux, Pierre Reverdy, Pierre-Jean Jouve, Louis-René des Forêts, Pierre Klossowski, André du Bouchet, Georges Séféris, Eugène Ionesco and Yves Bonnefoy.
With the death of Vallette in 1935, the management was taken over by Georges Duhamel (who had been editing the review since 1912). In 1938, because of Duhamel's anti-war stance, he was replaced by Jacques Bernard (in 1945, Bernard would be arrested and condemned for collaboration with the Germans). After the war, Duhamel (who was majority stock-holder of the publishing house) appointed Paul Hartman to run the review (Hartman had participated in the resistance and clandestine publishing during the war).
In 1958, the Éditions Gallimard publishing group bought the "Mercure de France" and Simone Gallimard was chosen as its director. In 1995, Isabelle Gallimard took over direction of the publishing house.
Mercure de France has won awards with the following authors:
- Salvat Etchart (Prix Renaudot 1967)
- Claude Farrigi (Prix Fémina 1975)
- Michel Butel (Prix Médicis 1977)
- Jocelyne François (Prix Fémina 1980)
- François-Olivier Rousseau (Prix Médicis et Prix Proust 1981)
- Nicolas Bréhal (Prix Valery Larbaud 1992)
- Paula Jacques (Prix Fémina 1991)
- Dominique Bona (Prix Interallié 1992)
- Andreï Makine (Prix Goncourt and Prix Médicis 1995)
- Romain Gary published his novels under the pen-name Émile Ajar (with the complicity of Simone Gallimard) which allowed him to win an unprecedented two Prix Goncourt.