Sur la route du papier, d’Erik Orsenna

2 min

On the Paper Road (“Sur la route du papier”), by Erik Orsenna

In 2012, writer and member of the Académie française Erik Orsenna published On the Paper Road with Stock Editions. Through this book brimming with knowledge and curiosities, the author retraces the history of paper through time. 

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The work of a writer and geographer

Born in 1947, Erik Orsenna began his academic career in literature and political science. He then turned towards economics and taught international finance. Quickly becoming involved in politics, he worked with François Mitterrand and received many awards and honours throughout his career: a member of the Haut Conseil de la Francophonie, winner of the Prix Goncourt in 1988 for The Colonial Exhibition (“L’Exposition coloniale") and a member of the Académie française since 1998.


A traveller, a lover of lands around the world and a great geographer, Erik Orsenna is a writer with many talents. 


Humanity and paper

Erik Orsenna explains his project as follows: “One day I said to myself that I had never thanked it (…) Yet it was on its back that every morning for nearly sixty years, I have attempted to move forward step by step, erasing, helping my stories”.


On the Paper Road is a tribute by a writer to the medium that allows literature to exist. From the Dunhuang library in China to the National Library of France (BNF) and Canadian forests, Erik Orsenna travels across time and space to understand the history of paper.


An ancestral technology

Paper is above all a technique developed over time. This “fibre soup which we spread out and then dry”, in the words of Erik Orsenna, has carried our memories since the very first day of its existence.


From ancient paper-making methods to modern recycling and new technologies to kill bacteria on the material, Erik Osenna, a wonderful teacher, simply presents us with an extraordinary story.


Global uses

This book is part of a broad framework of exploration. After Journey to the Lands of Cotton (“Voyage aux pays du coton”) in 2006 and The Future of Water (“L’Avenir de l’eau”)  in 2008, it is the third volume of an — often critical — analysis of globalisation.


On the Paper Road by Erik Orsenna doesn't just tell the story of paper: it also shows how this material has facilitated the emergence of globalised economic exchange, and the ecological footprint it has left over time. Erik Orsenna thus takes on the major economic, intellectual and historical challenges of our times. 

The Institut français and the book

In February 2017 On the Paper Road by Erik Orsenna benefited from the support of the Publication Assistance Programme - Rights Transfer Support for its release in the Uzbek language (Uzbekistan).


Find out more about the Publication Assistance Programmes