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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…

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