Author Jorge Semprun dies in Paris, aged 87
French and Spanish politicians and cultural figures on Wednesday paid tribute to Jorge Semprun, the Spanish writer and former culture minister who died overnight in Paris at the ago of 87. Semprun, who was born into a Spanish Republican family, spent much of his life in exile in France and wrote in French.
Semprun was “one of the last great participants in a tragic but brilliant epoch in the intellectual and literary history of our country”, President Nicolas Sarkozy said, pointing out that he had become a critic of Stalinism after his experiences as a Communist Party member.
Semprun was culture minister in Spain's Socialist government from 1988 to 1991.
French Socialist Jack Lang, who was culture minister in Paris at the time, recalled an “exciting period” when they formed “an inseparable duo” who “gave a new élan to the Europe of culture”.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero hailed “one of Europe’s great democrats”, a “magnificent writer” and a “participant in the great historic upheavals of the 20th century”.
French author Erik Orsenna called Semprun “a big brother and at the same time a great Spaniard”.
Semprun wrote 22 books and 16 film scripts, working with directors Alain Resnais and Costa-Gravas, who on Wednesday described him as “a man of perfect intellectual honesty”.
Politics and literature were inextricably mingled in Jorge Semprun’s life story. He spent much of his life in exile and some of it in a concentration camp, returned to Spain when democracy was restored but came back to Paris in his old age.
Here are some of the key events in his life: