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ALTHUSSER AND THE RUE D’ULM
I undertook to write this obituary of Louis Althusser for the alumni of the École Normale Supérieure in 1993, nearly three years after the thinker’s death; and not without hesitations and delays.  The moment happened to coincide with yet another change of fortune in the media image of our comrade, as the posthumous publication of two autobiographical texts had once more drawn attention, not without some commotion, to the fate of the ‘caïman of the rue d’Ulm’.  This reawakening of curiosity about a man who had seemed forgotten, his writings virtually out of print, no doubt coincided with the lifting of certain taboos and the end of a latency period. For Althusser had been famous two times over: first, in the 1960s and 70s, as a Marxist philosopher and, with Lévi-Strauss, Lacan, Foucault and Barthes, an emblematic figure of ‘French structuralism’; and second, for a few weeks at the end of 1980, as the unfortunate and scandalous protagonist of an unexpected fait divers, the murder of his wife Hélène, within the very walls of the École. By 1993, it seemed, enough time had passed for interest and nostalgia to appear, along with the need to explain events that now belonged to history.
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