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Régis Debray

(b. 1940)


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(1940–)

Frenchleft-wing intellectual, journalist, academic, and policy advisor who became internationally renowned (if not infamous) for his links to Fidel Castro and Che Guevara as well as for his advocacy of guerrilla warfare. Born in Paris, he studied at two of that city's most prestigious schools, the Lycée Louis-le-Grand and the École Normale Supérieure, where he worked with Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser. Debray visited Cuba in 1961 to report on its highly successful literacy campaign and became interested in Latin American politics. He returned there in 1963 and 1964 to study guerrilla tactics and subsequently took a position at the University of Havana in 1966. Based on his experiences, he wrote Révolution dans la révolution (1967), translated as Revolution in the Revolution (1967), which became a kind of revolutionaries' handbook, a status that was surely helped to a very great extent by the fact its Cuban publishers printed 200,000 copies on its first print run. In 1967 he accompanied Guevara on his last fateful trip to Bolivia, as a correspondent for a Mexican newspaper, and was himself captured and imprisoned on the charge of aiding insurrection. After an international campaign for clemency, led by such prominent figures as Jean-Paul Sartre, André Malraux, and President de Gaulle, he was released in 1970. He then moved to Chile, taking the opportunity to conduct interviews with its Marxist President Salvador Allende, which he published as The Chilean Revolution (1971). Following the coup by Pinochet in 1973, Debray returned to Paris. From 1981 to 1995 he worked as a policy advisor to President Mitterrand on Foreign Affairs, later reporting that the President ignored his ideas. Over the last two decades he has also developed himself as a media theorist, completing doctorates at the University of Paris and the Sorbonne. He has also written a three-volume autobiography, Le temps d'apprendre à vivre (1992–2000).

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.


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