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France’s Frontrunner Challenger to Sarkozy, François Hollande, Quotes Shakespeare – Just Not That One

Posted on the 26 January 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
France’s frontrunner challenger to Sarkozy, François Hollande, quotes Shakespeare – just not that one

Hollande. Photo credit: Alain Delpy,

François Hollande, leftist challenger to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is in prime position to unseat the stumbling incumbent: Already enjoying a solid lead, Hollande is tipped to become the country’s first Socialist president in 17 years.

Latest polls have Hollande at 27 percent, Sarkozy at 23 percent, and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen at 20 percent.

If only he could get his Shakespeares right.

In a major campaign speech on Sunday night, Hollande said that his message of egalitarian idealism could be best characterized by the words of Shakespeare: “They failed because they did not start with a dream.”

Inspirational stuff. The quote sent French and British journalists, according to The Telegraph, scrambling for their complete works of the Bard, in effort to track down the source play or sonnet. But to no avail and for good reason: “[T]he true author is alive and well,” the paper took some joy in reporting. “He is the Telegraph’s chief book reviewer.”

Yes, the Shakespeare in question is not William, author of (roughly) 38 plays and some 154 sonnets, but Nicholas Shakespeare, author of 10 novels and innumerable book reviews. The words, the paper claimed, came from his 1989 novel, The Vision of Elena Silves, and “they were uttered by the novel’s hero, Gabriel, a Maoist revolutionary who ends up a terrorist for the murderous Peruvian guerrilla group, Shining Path.”

Hollande, in a nutshell: Hollande took center stage after the spectacular fall of former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was arrested on charges of attempted rape in 2011 and was unable to recover his momentum after those charges were dropped. Hollande promised to bring the country’s deficit under the EU’s 3 percent target by next year by cutting tax breaks for corporations and the rich, also pumping the money back into education and jobs creation.

Shakespeare was delighted by the presumptive future president’s use of his words, telling his paper, “I was really pleased to see how the quote remains fresh. It can apply to anything and I think it’s rather good it’s applying to a presidential campaign. You don’t need to be Marxist to want a better society.”

Meanwhile, Sarkozy’s departure from office is increasingly assured: As Jon Henley at The Guardian’s Europa blog noted, “It’s hard to exaggerate the extent to which much of the nation dislikes its president. ‘Dislike’ is, in fact, far too mild: there’s a depth of contempt, a cold ferocity of detestation, that can shock.”

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