France Bestows Legion of Honor on Philp Roth

France Bestows Legion of Honor on Philp Roth

Philip Roth may be retired, but his contributions to the literary world are still being recognized. On Friday, French Foreign minister Laurent Fabius presented him with the Commandeur de l'Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur, or the Commander of the Legion of Honor, at a ceremony in New York at the French Embassy. Roth has had ties to France for a long time, not least because his first short story was published in The Paris Review.

Fabius praised Roth for his 'art of storytelling, your irony and self-depreciation, which is not typically French,' he said. 'You have enjoyed immense success in France.' Fabius spoke of Roth’s place on the literary map, sitting next to great French writers like Celine and foreign writers who have been influenced by French literature such as Dostoevsky. 'You have always enjoyed confusing the public…blurring the lines between fiction and reality,' said Fabius to Roth.

Created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the Legion of Honor was intended as “a reward to commend civilians and soldiers”. Normally, membership of the Legion is reserved for French citizens, but it is sometimes awarded to “foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it upholds”.

'This highest honor is a wonderful surprise,' Roth said. Then, speaking in French, he said that he was 'absolutely delighted.' Roth accepted the award explaining the long influence that France played in his life. French was the first foreign language that he had studied. Though he never did master spoken French, French fiction played an important role in Roth’s life. He taught comparative literature for many years.

Fabius concluded by saying: “France is giving you back what you have given to my country.” Is it deserved? I’d say so.

AFP photo/Timothy Clary

Dean Fetzer

News by Dean Fetzer

Dean Fetzer is originally from a small town in eastern Colorado, but has lived in London, England, for the past 21 years. After a career in graphic design, he started a pub review website in the late 90’s; He left that in 2011 to concentrate on his thriller writing, as well as offering publishing services for authors, poets and artists. When not writing - or in the pub - he can be found in the theatre, live music venues and travelling.

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