Intimate diaries and banal letters live on in France's library of secrets

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Everyone's life is a novel, which has not yet been written. Or in some cases, it has been written but never published.

In a small town in eastern France, there is a library, or archive, of intimate secrets: a collection of 2,500 unpublished – and mostly unpublishable – autobiographies, diaries, scrapbooks, bundles of letters and collections of emails dating from the early 19th century to last month.

"There are as many diarists as there are amateur pianists. They just make less noise," says Michel Vannet, custodian of the archive at Ambérieu-en-Bugey, near Lyons.

The man who co-founded the association, which snaps up these previously unconsidered literary treasures, Philippe Lejeune, puts it another way.

"There are no limits to literature," he says, "it can turn up anywhere."

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