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Guardians of French language deadlocked

Mar 04, 2019 - The Boston Globe

PARIS — Balzac tried and failed. Zola knocked on the door dozens of times and was always refused. Verlaine got no votes. Hugo got in, barely, only after multiple tries.

The august Académie Française — the elite club of 40 "Immortals," as the members are known, that serves as the official guardian of the French language — does not admit just anybody. So exclusive is it that most of France's greatest writers never made it.

But lately the sacred job of protecting France from "br...