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Academie Francaise, guardian of French language, gets new leader

Maalouf was elected to the academy in 2011, with friend Rufin giving the welcoming speech
— Paris (AFP)

"The Immortals" have spoken: the 388-year-old Academie Francaise, custodian and promoter of the French language, has a new leader in the form of author Amin Maalouf.

The French-Lebanese writer, 74, becomes only the 33rd person to occupy the post of "perpetual secretary" since the body's founding under King Louis XIII in 1635.

He takes over from Helene Carrere d'Encausse, who died last month having held the post since 1999.

She did not designate a clear successor but Maalouf, who won France's most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, in 1993 for "The Rock of Tanios", was considered the obvious choice due to his highly active engagement in the institution since being elected in 2011.

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