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[Readings]

Le Misérable

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From open letters by the actor Gérard Depardieu, addressed to French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and to the Russian press. In January, Depardieu obtained Russian citizenship in order to evade a proposed tax increase on incomes exceeding $1.3 million. Translated from the French by Ryann Liebenthal.

To Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault:

Pathetic? You call it pathetic? Pathetic indeed! I was born in 1948 — I started working at age fourteen as a printer, as a warehouse worker, then as a dramatic artist. I have always paid my taxes. At no point did I abdicate my responsibility. The historical films I’ve been a part of bear witness to my love of France and its history. Sadly, I have no more left to do here — but I will continue to love the French public with whom I’ve shared so many emotions! I am leaving because you believe that success, creativity, talent — difference, in fact — must be punished. No one who has left France has been as insulted as I. Yet I will carry with me the spirit of a country that once was beautiful and that will, I hope, remain so. I give you my passport and my social-security card, of which I have never made use. We no longer have the same homeland — I am a true European, a citizen of the world.

I don’t cast stones at all those with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, who drink too much or fall asleep on their scooters: I am one of them, as your dear media so loves to point out. I have never killed anyone, I don’t think I have proved myself unworthy, I’ve paid €145 million in taxes in forty-five years, employed eighty people in businesses created for and run by them. I am not asking to be pitied or venerated, but I refuse to be called pathetic. Who are you to judge me like this — I ask you, Mr. Ayrault, who are you?

To Russian journalists:

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