All true French leaders boast of their cultured side: Jacques Chirac loves African artefacts, Georges Pompidou adored modern art and Charles de Gaulle devoured the classics.
But the current centre-right presidential candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, despite his devotion to chanson franaise and his friendship with ageing rock star Johnny Hallyday, has seen the need to boost his literary credentials.
In a theatrical coup, he has allowed Yasmina Reza, France's biggest commercial playwright, to follow his every move in order to write a portrait of his "existential" inner being.
Reza, whose hit play Art took $275 million at box offices worldwide, has been given unprecedented access to his daily life.
Sarkozy, teasingly referred to in the press as 'Sarko,' has wanted to be president since he was 15. The politician has already inspired a best-selling 150-page comic book and numerous biographies dissecting his ruthless ambition, said to be spurred on by his diminutive height, unhappy childhood, immigrant origins and close relationship to his mother.
Reza said: "I wanted to write about the existential dimension of a politician... Sarkozy, whom I had never met, was the obvious choice."
When Reza suggested the project to Sarkozy, he immediately accepted.
Although the interior minister already dominates celebrity gossip magazines in the company of stars such as actor Jean Reno, he is keen to win over Paris's intellectual circles.
Asked about his reading habits, he repeatedly quotes the same two books, Louis-Ferdinand Cline's Journey to the End of the Night and Albert Cohen's Belle du Seigneur.
Reza's open access to Sarkozy contrasts with his reputation for careful control of his media coverage.
The work on Sarkozy will be published in September, four months after the election which will see him either president of France or in the political wilderness.
Sarkozy is no doubt hoping the finished work will not share the title of another successful play by Reza Conversations After a Funeral.
source: China Daily/Guardian