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Alan Sheridan

2 July 1981
Teachers, Writers, Celebrities: The Intellectuals of Modern France 
by Régis Debray, translated by David Macey.
New Left Books, 251 pp., £11, May 1981, 0 86091 039 3
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... For most people, I suspect, the name of RégisDebray is still inextricably linked with that of Che Guevara. For many, it still conjures up a blissful time of youthful certainties and heroic purpose. Debray was one of the first to do what many later dreamt of doing. In 1961, as a 20-year-old philosophy student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, he visited Cuba in the aftermath of the Revolution. He ...

Disaffiliate, Reaffiliate, Kill Again

Jeremy Harding: Régis Debray

7 February 2008
Praised Be Our Lords: The Autobiography 
by Régis Debray, translated by John Howe.
Verso, 328 pp., £19.99, April 2007, 978 1 84467 140 3
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... Regis Debray has led the fullest of lives, embroiled in ideology, controversy and action. As a young man at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, he sat at the feet of Louis Althusser; he trained in the use of assault ...
31 October 1996
Adventures on the Freedom Road: The French Intellectuals in the 20th Century 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy, translated by Richard Veasey.
Harvill, 434 pp., £20, December 1995, 1 86046 035 6
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The Imaginary Jew 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O’Neill and David Suchoff.
Nebraska, 230 pp., £23.95, August 1994, 0 8032 1987 3
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The Defeat of the Mind 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Judith Friedlander.
Columbia, 165 pp., $15, May 1996, 0 231 08023 9
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... their roles as worthy successors, Finkielkraut perhaps as a Jewish version of the Catholic François Mauriac, while Lévy had dreamed of being Mitterrand’s André Malraux (unfortunately for him, RégisDebray got there first – just as, Lévy notes in Le Lys et la cendre, he had ‘stolen the part’ of the intellectual as adventurer when he was jailed in Bolivia for joining Che Guevara). More ...


Brian Rotman: Why did the eternal one arrive so late?

17 February 2005
God: An Itinerary 
by Régis Debray.
Verso, 307 pp., £25, March 2004, 1 85984 589 4
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... Five years ago RégisDebray published an article in Le Monde diplomatique entitled ‘What Is Mediology?’ His aim was to open up a notion he’d introduced in passing twenty years earlier. Neither a science nor a sociology of ...

The Greatest

R.W. Johnson

4 August 1994
Charles de Gaulle, Futurist of the Nation 
by Régis Debray, translated by John Howe.
Verso, 111 pp., £29.95, April 1994, 0 86091 622 7
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De Gaulle and 20th-Century France 
edited by Hugh Gough and John Horne.
Edward Arnold, 158 pp., £12.99, March 1994, 0 340 58826 8
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François Mitterrand: A Study in Political Leadership 
by Alistair Cole.
Routledge, 216 pp., £19.99, March 1994, 0 415 07159 3
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... regime – but it’s likely that his real motive in forgiving Pétain, was to show himself a greater man not only than the Marshal but even than de Gaulle. This is the sort of thing that drives RégisDebray mad. Having received a sinecure from Mitterrand, he has clearly become thoroughly disenchanted with him and has written the one book calculated to enrage Mitterrand beyond all others: a paean ...

Havana, 1968

Andrew Sinclair

28 June 2017
... to my prayers. Before our permitted flight, I affirmed to Carlos that we would continue the revolution in our own countries. Lorrimer Publishing, my firm, would print the trials of Fidel Castro and RégisDebray and a book against the American war in Vietnam. I kept my bargain. My small experience with secret policemen is that they don’t do you in, as long as you refuse to take their money. Marianne ...


Tariq Ali: In Cochabamba

21 June 2007
... in Bolivia. I was last there forty years ago as part of a four-man team (the others were Perry Anderson, Robin Blackburn and Ralph Schoenman) sent by Bertrand Russell to attend the trial of RégisDebray in Camiri, not far from where a besieged Che Guevara was fighting to escape the Bolivian army. Debray had been captured while attempting to leave the guerrilla encampment and head home. I had also ...

Guerrilla International

Caroline Moorehead

6 August 1981
The Terror Network: The Secret War of International Terrorism 
by Claire Sterling.
Weidenfeld, 357 pp., £7.95, June 1981, 0 297 77968 0
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... is much the same: a hotchpotch of innuendo, gossip and speculation surrounds nuggets of fact. When Feltrinelli went to Bolivia he ‘may just have gone to visit Guevara’s best French friend, RégisDebray, in a Bolivian jail at the time’. (Who is to say? Not Claire Sterling, apparently.) Feltrinelli is the target of a particularly unpleasant kind of sexual mockery. Born with ‘a shrivelled ...

Sacred Text

Richard Gott: Guatemala

27 May 1999
Rogoberta Menchú and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans 
by David Stoll.
Westview, 336 pp., £20, February 1999, 0 8133 3574 4
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... Mexico, she later arrived in Paris, where, in January 1982, she gave a series of tape-recorded interviews about her country and her past life. The woman who recorded her memories was Elisabeth Burgos-Debray, a Venezuelan writer with links to Cuba, formerly married to RégisDebray, who had taken part in Guevara’s guerrilla campaign in Bolivia in 1967. After ten days with Menchú, Burgos-Debray ...


Geoffrey Hawthorn

3 December 1992
English Questions 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 370 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 375 9
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A Zone of Engagement 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 384 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 377 5
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... transitional towards the practicable limits of its own self-dissolution into the associated life of society as a whole.’ But this marked the end of his early expectations. By then, he knew that RégisDebray had been right: the events in France in 1968 announced a voyage to China which, like Columbus’s, rediscovered America. They were the beginning of the end, which came in Lisbon in 1974. If ...

What to Wear to School

Jeremy Harding: Marianne gets rid of the veil

19 February 2004
... look at it. Marianne can in principle be of any ethnic origin, provided she speaks her mind and takes to the barricades on matters of great international or national – sorry, republican – moment. RégisDebray, who sat on Chirac’s commission, and who is strongly in favour of the ban, has argued that religion – what we’d call RE – should be taught in state schools. It is becoming a familiar ...
21 August 1997
Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life 
by Jon Lee Anderson.
Bantam, 814 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 593 03403 1
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Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara 
by Jorge Castañeda, translated by Marina Castañeda.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 7475 3334 2
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... he has expanded further on his disillusionment with Cuba, and casts doubt on the level of support that Guevara received from Havana during the Bolivia campaign.The third survivor is, of course, RégisDebray. Debray visited Guevara’s camp, and on his way back was captured, tried and sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment. His new volume of memoirs, Loués soient nos seigneurs, is not so much an ...
12 December 1996
Histoire de ‘Tel Quel’, 1960-82 
by Philippe Forest.
Seuil, 656 pp., frs 180, October 1995, 2 02 017346 8
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The Time of Theory: A History of ‘Tel Quel’ (1960-83) 
by Patrick ffrench.
Oxford, 318 pp., £37.50, December 1995, 0 19 815897 1
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The Making of an Avant Garde: ‘Tel Quel’ 
by Niilo Kauppi.
Mouton de Gruyter, 516 pp., August 1994, 3 11 013952 9
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... modification of this new situation which the evolution of Tel Quel also exploited: that shift, in France, from a print to a television culture, from writers to celebrities (classically anatomised by RégisDebray), substituting high-cultural talk shows for laboriously meditated philosophical tomes, interviews for novels, cultural fashions for old-fashioned literary movements, famous names for unknown ...

When the beam of light has gone

Peter Wollen: Godard Turns Over

17 September 1998
The Films of Jean-Luc Godard 
by Wheeler Winston Dixon.
SUNY, 290 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 7914 3285 8
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Speaking about Godard 
by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki.
New York, 256 pp., $55, July 1998, 0 8147 8066 0
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... and Morin’s film, released in 1961, contained extempore interviews on the street with passers-by, a discussion of the Algerian war with students sitting round a dinner table (including the young RégisDebray), a wrenching, first-person soul-baring direct to camera by an employee at Cahiers du Cinéma and, in one of the great sequences of cinema, a survivor’s account of her experience in a ...

11 September 1973

Christopher Hitchens: Crimes against Allende

11 July 2002
Pinochet in Piccadilly: Britain and Chile’s Hidden History 
by Andy Beckett.
Faber, 280 pp., £15.99, May 2002, 0 571 20241 1
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... who kept on warning that there would be a violent confrontation, engineered by the ruling class and the Yanquis without respect for ‘the rules’. Allende himself gave a series of interviews to RégisDebray, Guevara’s former epigone, in which he maintained to the contrary that a democratic transition was possible. Reviewing Debray’s book for the Times in 1971, I quoted Tawney’s old dictum ...

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