Latest Issue

Honi soit qui mal y pense

Régis Debray recalls friendship and disillusionment with François Mitterrand, and unravels the political psychology of a man whose inconsistencies helped unite a fractious country

By Régis Debray   February 1996

Even before François Mitterrand stepped down as president last year, a new literary competition-cum-parlour game had been invented in France. It consisted of painting a word portrait of the president. All the country’s literary lions, spurred on by Le Grand Amour, a dazzling offering by Goncourt prize-winner Eric Orsenna, felt bound to spew out their own “Mitterrand enigma.” After all, it had been running for 14 years.

And now it’s my turn. But surely the bottom of this barrel has been scraped by now; all I can add are a few bits and pieces. But there are some pretty solid…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect