3.00 FYI France: Enewsletter and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Sep 29, 1993 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on September 29, 1993.
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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France enewsletter, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Enewsletter subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: kessler@well.sf.ca.us .

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45 -- $35 until January 1, 1997 -- payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at kessler@well.sf.ca.us .

From: Jack Kessler 
Subject: EXTRA -- The Korean Manuscripts Caper!(?) (29 Sep 93)

September 29, 1993

	FYIFrance: EXTRA -- The Korean Manuscripts Caper!(?)

by:	Jack Kessler

Not to be out-done by the Dead Sea Scrolls Debacle, the French just
have launched a library / scholarship controversy of their own, which
may ultimately rank up there in the ethically-questionable-questions
pantheon with such chestnuts as the scrolls, certain German / Texan war
booty, Elgin's lost marbles (sorry), and "what-do-we-do-with-the-

Alan Riding, reporting in today's New York Times (September 29, West
Coast Edition p.B3), describes an incident which is causing a major
scandal now in French librarianship and scholarship:

"It seemed like a reasonable exchange. After France won a multi-
billion-dollar contract to supply its high-speed train to South Korea,
President Franc,ois Mitterand this month made the good-will gesture of
returning a 19th-century Korean manuscript seized by French troops in

The problem was, though, as most readers of this posting will guess,
that, "The country's museums and cultural institutions may be weighed
down by the booty of imperial wars and conquests but, by law, these
paintings, sculptures and documents are now French."

So far, so normal: nothing which hasn't been heard before. The Louvre
and the BN are filled with loot: one suspects that repatriation would
empty most of the great museums and libraries of the world. But it is
now that the drama of Riding's article begins: the Bibliothe`que
Nationale, it seems, had agreed to provide a microfilm copy, but,

"...it was only as Mr. Mitterrand set off for Seoul this month that he
indicated he planned to hand the manuscript back."

"At first, the library refused to surrender it, but its administrator,
Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, said he eventually ordered Miss Cohen (Monique
Cohen, BN curator) and another curator, Jacqueline Sanson, to take the
manuscript to Seoul because he was assured that it would only be shown
to South Korea's President, Kim Young Sam."

"In Seoul, a strange scene then unfolded. Learning that the document
was about to be given away, Miss Cohen and Miss Sanson refused to
release it. With the presentation ceremony about to start, France's
Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe', then telephoned Mr. Toubon (the French
Minister of Culture) in Paris and urged him to order the curators to
give up the case containing the manuscript."

"Mr. Toubon complied and the case was handed over, but the curators
kept the key, requiring Presidential aides to open it by force to
enable the ceremony to go ahead. The two curators then returned to
Paris and promptly offered their resignations in protest."

Anyone care to tackle this one? Cultural politics with a truly French
twist. One can imagine the scene in Seoul: a battery of elegant
Presidential courtiers, wielding the deadly acid tongues so prized
among that set, and backed up no doubt by the more burly French Secret
Service, besieging these two stubborn librarians, holed up in their
little room at the Hotel Lotte, the courtiers ultimately grabbing the
briefcase and beating it down the hall. "'So search me, if you want
your damned key!', she bravely cried, as the angry crowd surged toward

Whatever people who read this may think of the ethics of keeping war
booty, or of repatriating it, or of library politics or of Presidential
noblesse oblige, we surely should thank Jacqueline Sanson and Monique
Cohen for their show of bravery in the line of library duty ("All
things considered, I'd rather be shelving books -- even in
Philadelphia").  Thanks also to the French for giving us, once again,
cultural politics with their inimitable panache.

Jack Kessler


issn 1071-5916


FYI France (sm)(tm) e - newsletter        ISSN 1071 - 5916

      |           FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic newsletter,
      |           published since 1992 as a small - scale, personal,
      |           experiment, in the creation of large - scale
      |           "information overload", by Jack Kessler. Any material
     / \          written by me which appears in FYI France may be
    -----         copied and used by anyone for any good purpose, so
   //   \\        long as, a) they give me credit and show my e - mail
  ---------       address and, b) it isn't going to make them money: if
 //       \\      if it is going to make them money, they must get my
                  permission in advance, and share some of the money
which they get with me. Use of material written by others requires their
permission. FYI France archives are at  http://infolib.berkeley.edu
(search for FYIFrance), or via gopher to  infolib.berkeley.edu 72
(path: 3. Electronic Journals (Library-Oriented)/ 6. FYIFrance/ , or
http://www.univ-rennes1.fr/LISTES/biblio-fr@univ-rennes1.fr/ (BIBLIO-FR
econference archive), or via telnet to  a.cni.org , login  brsuser
(PACS / PACS-L econference archive), or at  http://www.fyifrance.com .
Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison - pen letters       
all will be gratefully received at  kessler@well.sf.ca.us .

        Copyright 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.    

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