Marie Hasse receives in his studio, in Geneva, whose paned windows overlook the Place du Bourg-de-Four, in the Old Town. An immediate charm emanates from this apartment-boudoir with walls lined with books, to the point that one has the impression of getting to know two people: the hostess and her case. When, thirty minutes later, she will tell how she found herself, in 2019, at the head of Metropolis editions, we will widen our eyes when we realize that we are in front of someone who is living a fairy tale and then tell ourselves that this story actually corresponds to this enchanted studio and, certainly, to the person who lives there.
But for now, we are here to learn about the first books that the young woman publishes as an editor and which are just arriving in bookstores. Two novelties and a boxed set of three paperback books mark this carefully thought-out debut.
Loyalty to the catalog of Michele Stroun, founder of the house in 1988, is the common thread: an openness to the cultural mixes of cities, a feminist perspective, a marked attention for translated literature. Jean-Michel Wissmer, specialist in Hispanic literature, historical author of Metropolis, thus proposes a tasty investigation around the news of Cervantes, The Glass Licensee, with asides on the colorful life of the writer himself.
Another novelty, Miss Julia Flisch, Dawn of Feminism presents a pioneer of feminism in the United States, Swiss-born, journalist and writer in Georgia, activist for women’s access to higher education. It was one of her descendants, the Genevan Christian W. Flisch, who set out in the footsteps of this grandmother. Finally, a box set brings together three collections of short stories by Shmuel T. Meyer, another house author, The Great European Express, Kibbutz and The great American disaster.
Cigarette in hand
Smoked tea spreads its characteristic fragrance throughout the apartment. Marie Hasse, cigarette in hand, begins to tell her story. From a Geneva mother and a Parisian father, she grew up in Paris. Passionate about ancient Greek, she attended preparatory classes for the grandes écoles, hypokhâgne and khâgne, and continued with a bachelor’s degree in classical letters and a master’s degree in philosophy.
I lament reminding my aunt that my ancient Greek skills are of no use in today’s world and that I will never find anything …
“I could see myself staying a student all my life, but the moment came when I wanted to say the texts and no longer just write pages and pages of comments. So I threw myself into the most improbable thing for me, because I’m very shy: the theater. ” She trained at the Charles-Dullin School, became an actress and director. She took over the management of a small venue, the Auguste Théâtre, in the 11th arrondissement, and for ten years put on shows and hosted companies.
During all these years, Geneva is still present. Her mother’s family lives there, Marie Hasse goes there regularly on vacation and for weekends. It was also during one of these stays that she confided to an aunt that the theater was no longer enough for her and that she aspired to something else. “I lament reminding her that my skills in ancient Greek are of no use in today’s world and that I will never find anything …” But her aunt suggests that she call a friend, Michele Stroun, “Who’s in the publishing” and who might be able to give him some advice.
The meeting between the octogenarian editor and the 33-year-old director took place in the summer of 2018. “We started talking as if we had always known each other. Love at first sight, ”recalls Michèle Stroun who, at the time, was looking for someone to take over her publishing house. “I couldn’t find anyone. I already saw myself having to give up my books and my authors. An indescribable heartbreak, ”she continues.
Marie Hasse: “We fell in love with each other. We understood each other on everything. ” After two hours of discussion, the editor offers the young woman to give her a gift of her publishing house. “My only condition was that the catalog be maintained”, specifies Michèle Stroun.
To find one’s way
It took a little time for Marie Hasse to recover from the dizziness caused by such an offer. “At the time, I did not understand what was happening to me,” she agrees. And then, for two and a half years, she trained in the workings of the publishing profession alongside Michèle Stroun. “I showed him how I was doing but without asking him to do the same. Especially not. She will find her own way. I trust him completely, ”explains the founder of Metropolis.
And then, the covid arrived, Michèle Stroun confines herself. Marie is ordered to fend for herself: “I understood that it was a chance, in fact. And I started, ”she explains. Several books are ready for May and June. And the bridges imagined between Geneva and Paris, in the form of meetings with Swiss writers on the stage of the Auguste Théâtre, for example. “Why not?” she slips. Yes why not?
1985 Born in Paris.
2008 Bachelor of Arts in Classics.
2018 Meeting with the editor Michèle Stroun.
2019 Director of Editions Metropolis.
2021 First books in bookstores.