René Girard’s archives go to the Bibliothèque Nationale

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They missed the champagne, too. (Photo: L.A. Cicero)

I was visiting René and Martha Girard when they told me the news, but I got the details from the French press.

From Le Magazine Littéraire (you must suffer my translation below, but you are welcome to go to the original here):

The philosopher René Girard has entrusted his archives to the Bibliothèque Nationale.  It’s a boon for the BnF, which recently acquired the archives of Claude Levi-Strauss, Guy Debord and Roland Barthes. René Girard, inventor of the concept of “mimetic desire,” spent his entire academic career in the United States, but he has chosen France for his archives.

The philosopher’s gift is accompanied by a partnership agreement with Stanford University (where Girard taught from 1980 to 1995), which will keep American researchers in contact with these valuable documents. The BnF participated in a second convention with the l’Association Recherches Mimétiques, which it will assist in the development of Girardian studies in France and abroad.

Bruno Racine, chairman of the BnF, welcomes René Girard’s decision and stressed that “this new addition gives glowing witness  to the major role the BnF plays in the conservation and recovery not only of literary creation but of the entire intellectual life of the twentieth century.”  The work of René Girard reflects  this intellectual life precisely.

Author of 30 books, René Girard describes his concept of “mimetic desire” in his first publication, Deceit, Desire and the Novel, in 1961. His work quickly gained world renown, leading to his induction into the Académie Française in 2005.

According to Fabula: La Recherche en Littérature, he has made “a deposit, which will turn into donation,” with “a convention of partnership with Stanford University.”

As the Girards told me the spare details of the arrangements in their sunshine-filled Stanford home, they said the celebration was happening that night in Paris – in fact, just about the time we were speaking, I expect.  I imagined champagne and crystal, toasting, tributes and laughter … and me not there!

René and Martha, however, seemed perfectly happy to be exactly where they were.



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