Hervé Guibert (14 December 1955 – 27 December 1991) was a French writer and photographer.[1][2][3] The author of numerous novels and autobiographical studies, he played a considerable role in changing French public attitudes to HIV/AIDS.[4] He was a close friend of Michel Foucault.

Early life and career

Guibert was born in Saint-Cloud, Hauts-de-Seine, to a middle-class family and spent his early years in Paris, moving to La Rochelle from 1970 to 1973.

After working as a filmmaker and actor, he turned to photography and journalism. In 1978, he successfully applied for a job at France's evening paper Le Monde and published his second book, Les Aventures singulières (published by Éditions de Minuit). In 1984, Guibert shared a César Award for best screenplay with Patrice Chéreau for L'homme blessé. Guibert had met Chéreau in the 1970s during his theatrical years. He won a scholarship between 1987 and 1989 at Villa Medicis in Rome with his friend, writer Mathieu Lindon. He described these years in L'Incognito, published in 1989.

Guibert's writing style was inspired by the French writer Jean Genet and, later, by the work of Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard. Three of his lovers occupied an important place in his life and work: Thierry Jouno, director of the International Visual Theatre for the deaf in Paris, whom he met in 1976; Michel Foucault, whom he met in 1977; and Vincent Marmousez, a teenager of fifteen who inspired his novel Fou de Vincent (published in English as Crazy for Vincent).

For a time in the 1980s Guibert was a reader at the institute for young blind in Paris, Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles, which led to his novel Des aveugles (published in English as Blindsight).

In January 1988 Guibert was diagnosed with AIDS.[5] From then on, he worked at recording what was left of his life. In June the following year, he married Christine, the partner of Thierry Jouno, so that his royalty income would eventually pass to her and her two children. In 1990, Guibert publicly revealed his HIV status in his roman à clef À l'ami qui ne m'a pas sauvé la vie (published in English as To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life). Nina Bouraoui in The Guardian described the book thus:

"In this book, he tells the story of his illness, Aids, in the late 1980s. He tells of how life with the virus became an existential adventure, how it affected a generation, how it stole his friends and lovers, and how writing was for him a bulwark against death and destruction. It's the story of an era, a turning point – when Aids transformed our relationship with desire and sexuality forever."[6]

Upon publication, Guibert immediately found himself the focus of media attention, featured in newspapers and appearing on several television talk shows.

Two more books also detailing the progress of his illness followed: Le Protocole compassionnel (published in English as The Compassionate Protocol) and L'Homme au chapeau rouge (published in English as The Man in the Red Hat), which was released posthumously in January 1992, the same month French television screened La Pudeur ou l'impudeur, a home-made film by Guibert of his last year as he lost his battle against AIDS. Almost blind as a result of disease, he attempted to end his life by taking digitalin just before his 36th birthday, and died two weeks later.[7]


  • La Mort propagande, R. Deforges, Paris, 1977
  • Zouc par Zouc, Balland, (1978)
  • Suzanne et Louise : roman-photo, Hallier, « Illustrations, » Paris, 1980
  • L'Image fantôme, Minuit, Paris, 1981
    • Ghost Image, translated by Robert Bonnono, Sun and Moon, 1996; University of Chicago Press, 2014
  • Les Aventures singulières, Minuit, Paris, 1982
    • Singular Adventures, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman in Written in Invisible Ink: Selected Stories, Semiotext(e), 2020
  • Les Chiens, Minuit, Paris, 1982
  • Voyage avec deux enfants, Minuit, Paris, 1982
  • Les Lubies d'Arthur, Minuit, Paris, 1983
  • L'Homme blessé : scénario et notes, screenplay by Patrice Chéreau, Minuit, Paris, 1983[8]
  • Le Seul Visage, photographies, Minuit, Paris, 1984
  • Des aveugles, Gallimard, Paris, 1985 (Fénéon Prize, 1985)
  • Mes parents, Gallimard, Paris, 1986
    • My Parents, translated by Liz Heron, Serpent's Tail, 1994
  • "Vous m'avez fait former des fantômes", Gallimard, Paris, 1987
  • Les Gangsters, Minuit, Paris, 1988
    • The Gangsters, translated by Iain White, Serpent's Tail, 1991
  • Mauve le Vierge : nouvelles, Gallimard, Paris, 1988
    • Mauve the Virgin, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman in Written in Invisible Ink: Selected Stories, Semiotext(e), 2020
  • L'Image de soi ou l'Injonction de son beau moment ?
  • Fou de Vincent, Minuit, Paris, 1989
  • L'Incognito: roman, Gallimard, Paris, 1989
    • Incognito, translated by Patricia Roseberry, Broadwater House, 1999
  • À l'ami qui ne m'a pas sauvé la vie, Gallimard, Paris, 1990
    • To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life, translated by Linda Cloverdale, Serpent's Tail, 1993; Semiotext(e), 2020[6]
  • Le Protocole compassionnel, Gallimard, Paris, 1991
    • The Compassion Protocol, translated by James Kirkup, Braziller, 1994
  • La Mort propagande : et autres textes de jeunesse, R. Deforges, Paris, 1991
  • Mon valet et moi : roman cocasse, Éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1991
    • My Manservant and Me: Madcap Novel, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman, Nightboat, 2022
  • Vice, photographies de l'auteur, J. Bertoin, Paris, 1991
    • Vice, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman in Written in Invisible Ink: Selected Stories, Semiotext(e), 2020
  • L'Homme au chapeau rouge, Gallimard, Paris, 1992
    • The Man in the Red Hat, translated by James Kirkup, Quartet, 1995
  • Cytomégalovirus, journal d'hospitalisation, Éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1992
    • Cytomegalovirus: A Hospitalization Diary, translated by Clara Orban, University Press of America, 1996; Fordham University Press, 2015
  • Le Paradis, Gallimard, Paris, 1992
    • Paradise, translated by James Kirkup, Quartet, 1996
  • Photographies, Gallimard, Paris, 1993
  • Vole mon dragon : théâtre, Gallimard, « Le manteau d'Arlequin », Paris, 1994
  • La piqûre d'amour : et autres textes ; suivi de La chair fraîche, Gallimard, Paris, 1994
    • The Sting of Love, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman in Written in Invisible Ink: Selected Stories, Semiotext(e), 2020
  • Enquête autour d'un portrait : sur Balthus, preface by Éric de Chassey, Les Autodidactes, Paris, 1997
  • Lettres d'Égypte : du Caire à Assouan, 19.., photographies de Hans Georg Berger, Actes Sud, « Voir et dire », Arles, 1995
  • La photo, inéluctablement : recueil d'articles sur la photographie, 1977-1985, Gallimard, Paris, 1999
  • Le Mausolée des amants : journal, 1976-1991, Gallimard, Paris, 2001
    • The Mausoleum of Lovers, translated by Nathanaël, Nightboat, 2014
  • Articles intrépides. 1977-1985, Gallimard, Paris, 2008
  • Herve Guibert: Voices of the Self, Liverpool University Press 1999
  • Written in Invisible Ink: Selected Stories, Semiotext(e), 2020[9]


  1. ^ "When a Virus Becomes a Muse". The New Yorker. 11 September 2020. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ Sehgal, Parul (8 June 2020). "A French Writer Who Blurred the Line Between Candor and Provocation". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  3. ^ Durbin, Andrew. "Hervé Guibert: Living Without a Vaccine". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  4. ^ "How to Dissect God?: Hervé Guibert — Mousse Magazine and Publishing". www.moussemagazine.it. 13 October 2020. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  5. ^ "6 books that offer new perspectives on illness". Dazed. 31 December 2020. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  6. ^ a b Bouraoui, Nina (16 September 2020). "Top 10 books of autofiction". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  7. ^ "Herve Guibert, French Novelist, 36". New York Times. 29 December 1991. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  8. ^ "Patrice Chéreau obituary". The Guardian. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  9. ^ "Hervé Guibert's 'Dreadful Books'". The Gay & Lesbian Review. 27 October 2020. Retrieved 27 November 2021.

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