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Elizabeth and Robert Badinter, an independent couple during the century

The death of the former lawyer and minister of justice on February 9 leaves the couple half-hearted. for more than half a century, Elizabeth and Robert Badinter have actually crossed successive eras, pointing to an ideal, intellectual, political form. , cultural.

1966: How does a couple begin? Robert Badinter was single that year. A recently divorced lawyer, he received his private law consolidation a year ago and among his clients is the well-known advertising executive Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet and his agency, Publicis. It is on the property of his client that the lawyer meets 22-year-old Elisabeth, Marcel’s daughter, who is sixteen years younger than him, and whose concerns, a priori, do not concern her future husband; Elisabeth Bleustein, former student of Alsace. School, studied philosophy, of which he was a graduate, and which he taught, notably at the Polytechnic School since 1978. However, between them, between law and philosophy, undoubtedly the spirit of Enlightenment and tolerance serves as an optional link. The couple married on July 1, 1966, and had three children: Judith, Simon, and Benjamin.

In 2017, Elizabeth Badinter announced Philosophy Magazine that his passion for the Enlightenment and its age came too early; “He was born in my first year of university when I discovered Rousseau. Let me say that it was love at first sight. I was amazed at his writing and intellectual audacity.’

Notable teachers

They are also united by their belief in learning. both will be labeled teachers. Above all, in terms of intellectual audacity, the Badinter couple seem to have built on the social advances of the eras in which they lived. First of all, through her work and research, her books and her interventions, she builds the canvas of a particular French feminism, which in the 1970s and 1980s laid the foundations for reflection on gender, sexuality and gender differences, exploring. to break away from the clichés associated with femininity and motherhood; his book Love and morePublished in 1980, it was a huge success in bookstores, selling 400,000 copies. Since then, his every work has been eagerly awaited. In the footsteps of Simone de Beauvoir, Elizabeth Badinter develops secular feminism. Worldliness will also be the defining thread of her thoughts and actions, just as it will be at the core of her husband’s thoughts and actions.

Elizabeth and Robert Badinter on the set of Apostrophes, March 1988.
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As if echoing Elizabeth’s thoughts, which are determined to change the matrix of society, Robert Badinter’s thoughts are in the same territory. A lawyer, he is convinced that the death penalty should be abolished, and in 1977 he managed to save the cold Patrick Henry, the murderer of a 7-year-old child, from the death penalty. He does this in the face of a society that demands the murderer’s head. The victory of Badinter is first of all the victory of the society over itself. Or rather, 10 years after May 1968, an era that seeks mutations, change.

To each his own

That’s how their couple undoubtedly passed the years and the century, even if they each lived on their own floor in their apartment on the edge of the Luxembourg garden district; Feminism, commitment, justice. However, as a couple they encouraged prudence. Their only work together, outside of their fighting community, was one book, dated 1988, a biography of Condorcet in four hands. What did they both find in common in this 18th century man, mathematician and philosopher? Undoubtedly the genius of the Enlightenment that they both loved so much. If Condorcet was not an ideal synthesis of all their fields of research and interest.


Elizabeth Badinter, a guest on Bernard Pivot’s show Apostrophes, admits that she was the one who introduced Condorcet to their shared history, insisting that she was “the most beautiful, the most radical of feminists.” To which Robert Badinter responded about the common interest and desire to write together. “The question was how and where to find us. (…) As I progressed in my knowledge of Condorcet, he was a man who fought deeply against injustice.” Fight. is the word that seems to best describe this couple and their journey through the century, as if intellectualizing their relationship around the idea of ​​justice, working together but at a distance, they have built something of an ideal couple. – one that does not fade and lasts beyond its time.

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Source: Le Figaro

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