Christian Bourgois: French publisher of English writers


Christian Bourgois, publisher: born Antibes, France 21 September 1933; married first 1958 Agnes Troubl (two children, marriage dissolved), secondly Dominique Kaszemacher (two children); died Paris 20 December 2007.

The French publisher Christian Bourgois was responsible for bringing a huge and eclectic collection of works from authors of many nationalities, including Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Martin Amis, Hanif Kureishi and Salman Rushdie, to French and Canadian audiences.

Bourgois was born in 1933 in Antibes, southern France. He graduated from Sciences Po (the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris) in 1954, part of the same intake as Jacques Chirac. When it came to further studies, his father, a marine officer, feared that his son's preferred Ecole normale supérieure (ENS) seemed to be a "nest of leftists". Bourgois was therefore directed towards the Ecole nationale d'administration (ENA), a usual route into the French civil service. He did not relish the prospect of this conventional path and, in 1959, left the education system to join Ren Julliard and his eponymous publishing house.

In the same year, he married Agnès Troublé, an art student, who later became the fashion designer Agnès B. Although their marriage only lasted three years, she retains the B for Bourgois in her name and designer label .

On Julliard's death in 1962, Bourgois took over the management of a publisher which was soon to attract internationally known authors such as Gabriel García Márquez, whose earliest collection of short stories Pas de Lettre pour le Colonel (No One Writes to the Colonel) was published in French in 1963 but would not appear in English for another five years.

When Julliard was bought by Presses de la Cité in 1966, Bourgois decided to set up Christian Bourgois Editeur independently, together with the writer Dominique de Roux, whose own La mort de L.-F. Cline ("The Death of Cline") was one of their first productions. The Bourgois publishing house was spurred by the May 1968 Paris uprising, which saw a surge of interest in social sciences and related subjects, causing a significant growth of his list in those areas.

Around the same time, when the literature of the American beat generation was crossing the Atlantic, it was Bourgois who courageously brought the voices of Ginsberg (Kaddish, 1967) and Burroughs (La Machine Molle/Soft Machine, 1968) to French readers. His most controversial decision was to publish The Satanic Verses (1989) by Rushdie, despite fatwa threats to the life of the author and those who translated and published the book in other countries.

Between 1968 and 1992, Bourgois published around 1,500 titles under the 10/18 paperback imprint, including some 500 completely new works. Following a disagreement with company management in 1992, he set up independently once again, this time with his second wife, Dominique. He continued to attract new and established names, including British authors such as Amis and Kureishi. In recent years a group of 21 books by and about J.R.R. Tolkien, including The Lord of the Rings, have been stars of the Bourgois catalogue. Dominique Bourgois will continue to run the publishing house and look after the catalogue of books which represents Christian Bourgois's legacy to the literary world.

In December 2005, a two-month exhibition opened at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, titled "40 ans d'édition", which celebrated Bourgois's 40 years of publishing and highlighted the French and foreign authors he had discovered. Asked about his successes, he replied with characteristic modesty: "I simply knew how to use the opportunities and chances which were offered to me and to listen to advice."

Marcus Williamson

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions