1 December 2023

Frédéric Martin, founder of Le Tripode editions, in 2022.


It has now been three years since journalist Richard Gaitet, the “Maigret of the literary interview”, to use the beautiful expression of Nicolas Mathieu, cooks the writers. Three years that he questions them at length. Three years that, almost every month – because this zebra still officiates at Nova when he is not going to dance on stage or in demonstrations – delights our ears with his “Bookmakers” imagined for Arte Radio.

Three years, and it was time, he said, to interview a publisher and therefore a real “bookmaker” (“bookmaker”). It was on March 16 that the three episodes dedicated to Frédéric Martin, founder of the publishing house Le Tripode, were put online and listened to dryly.

Episode 1. Birth in Marseilles (northern districts). Childhood and adolescence in Tahiti (seafarer father). First literary shock: Twenty thousand leagues under sea (Jules Verne). Began Crime and Punishment, of Dostoyevsky by volume II (chance of the finds at the booksellers). Lu Francis Pongé. Is convinced that literature forms consciences and not convictions. Belongs to a generation that is not shocked that comics entered the Collège de France at the end of 2022. Became a publisher to give back to the books what they (him) gave “. Evokes his beginnings with Viviane Hamy editions and the influence of the publisher Jean-Jacques Pauvert. Speak of good pleasure and renunciation. Said that one can be light-hearted but not reckless with an author. Generally speaking as particular speaks, so well, of the relationship between a publisher and an author.


Of authors, it will be more than question in episode 2, and in particular of Goliarda Sapienza. He tells how he fought for the 600 pages of this unknown Italian to be read. And how, in two years, 100,000 copies of The Art of Joy. A success that makes it “hyper-happy and hyper-worried: you don’t make a masterpiece. On the other hand, a masterpiece can take a long time to be spotted, and that is a terrible responsibility”says today the one who, since he founded his publishing house in 2012, will launch the translation of the complete work of Goliarda Sapienza.

But precisely, why this name: The Tripod? Because that’s how the writer Alfred Jarry baptized the cabin on stilts he built on the banks of the Seine. Because it is a refuge and it is always stable. Because he’s a UFO, too, and because, for him, “A good book is necessarily a UFO”. Some of the ubiquitous and poetic explanations that Frédéric Martin delivers here.

In the last episode, we learn that he reads in bed while smoking a pipe in the house of his Breton lover. It is about the publication of the 781 gouaches and all the texts of the monumental Life ? or theatre? by the German painter Charlotte Salomon. The originality of its catalog, and the graphic beauty of its works. Prices too, and redistributed money. His concern can also be heard when he realizes that it is mainly white, urban readers and readers of privileged social class who read what he publishes. Because a book is still expensive, “especially when faced with a film that can be downloaded for a few euros”. However, he is convinced that a book is and remains a revolutionary object.

“Bookmakers”, by Richard Gaitet. To be found on Arte Radio and on all the usual listening platforms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *