Today’s somber post is my tribute to the French journalists slaughtered so savagely in Paris this week.
As they would surely have wished, it is written in celebration of the courage of all those who have sought over the ages and in all countries to use their artistic skills to mock the pretensions of the dogmatists and the powerful. But it is also written in support of the humanistic principles exemplified by writers such as Voltaire…..
Only last month I wrote a post Desperately Seeking….Satire about how much we need satire in these times and, more than two years ago, had celebrated it in a detailed post as “the greatest art form”. You will find the posts useful since they try to record the artists and writers who have risked their livelihoods and lives for centuries in the pursuit of principle.
Simon Jenkins spoke for many people with his piece in Wednesday’s Guardian which is reproduced (with cartoons) in this excellent blog I came across recently
In one of these serendipitous moments of which my life increasingly seems to consist, I came across, earlier this week in Sofia’s open-air book market, a copy of a lovely small book about the friendship in the 1930s between Bulgaria’s most famous satirist and cartoonist, Ilyia Beshkov and an émigré journalist from Hitler’s Germany.
It is a powerful evocation (largely from the memory of Beshkov’s widow) of that period of his life when the vendetta against his cartoons had reduced him to poverty – but how the support of friends sustained him. You can actually read the full text of the book here – although sadly not the cartoons.
I was in the middle of drafting this post when friends here in Sofia contacted me about the tribute which will take place at 18.00 this evening at the French Embassy in Sofia.
I am delighted to be in a position not only to attend but also to have the opportunity of displaying the poster-size reproductions I just happened to bring down from Bucharest of 5 Daumier cartoons – which I propose to inscribe (in French of course) with suitable text, mentioning Charlie Hebdo, Daumier and Beshkov…..