In 1988, Nadine Dormoy conducted a series of interviews with René Girard at a pivotal moment in his career, just after a number of books and conferences had situated his work in a new context of research on self-organizing systems. In these interviews, Girard discusses the flurry of intellectual activity that followed the landmark 1981 Stanford University conference, Disorder and Order. Attended by several Nobel prize winners and other important intellectual figures, this event expanded his reputation in Europe and laid the groundwork for later accolades, including the Modern Language Association’s Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement and being elected as a member of the Académie Française. Girard also discusses Theater of Envy, his then-forthcoming book on Shakespeare and his first book written in English, as well as corrects several misunderstandings of his mimetic hypothesis. Dormoy is a spirited interlocutor, like Girard a postwar émigré who came to make a new life for herself teaching French in American universities. Translated into English for the first time by leading mimetic studies scholar William A. Johnsen, The World of René Girard is a must-have for those new to and familiar with Girard’s work.
In this spellbinding series of transdisciplinary interviews, Girard reconstructs the transatlantic vicissitudes of his intellectual adventure—from Avignon to Indiana, Johns Hopkins to Stanford. A hypothesis linking mimetic desire to the sacrificial origins of culture comes to life via sustained dialogues spanning from the Bible to Greek tragedy, Shakespeare to Proust, Freud to Nietzsche, among other untimely precursors. The World of René Girard opens up new perspectives for mimetic studies to come. This is a must-read for anyone interested in why imitation is in the maelstrom of contagious pathologies haunting our past, present, and future. —Nidesh Lawtoo, professor of modern/contemporary European literature and culture at Leiden University, Netherlands, and author of Homo Mimeticus: A New Theory of Imitation