Readers of the French language are welcoming and curious about the world, though probably less of a polyglot than the inspirational Armand Robin. It is thanks to them that, year in year out, French editors publish half of their output as translations. For centuries, French literature has availed itself of writings from far afield as it has enriched them. So  it is no suprise that an invitation to come and write in France should provoke interest worldwide.

Some writers seek total solitude here, like lighthouse keepers on the top of the building, looking straight down over the ships and the amazing beauty of the Atlantic harbour landscape. Others appreciate the possibility of meeting readers, writers or critics here, in Paris, or elsewhere in France. And all of them are offered the opportunity of publishing, often for the first time, a piece of their work translated into French.

Ten years before his Nobel Prize, the M.E.E.T. afforded Gao Xingjian an opportunity to write his plays here and to publish a bilingual edition of his work "Dialoguer/Interloquer". After discovering the first chapter of her novel A lost morning in the sixth issue of the review "meet", Gallimard decided to publish works by Gabriela Adamasteanu. For twenty years, this place of discoveries, with some hundred works in its collection, has been carrying on its own maritime and cosmopolitan enterprise:  to offer a haven, an oasis of calm far from any hustle and bustle, and gather the messages sent out to the sea by this wide network of writers bent over their chart table, looking for the best routes into some privileged harbour in the world.

"I am now in France, in Saint-Nazaire", wrote the Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas. "I would just want to plead to this glorious sky, to this ocean, that I have the opportunity to contemplate a few more days in order to shelter my terror."

Patrick Deville