A brief note on the life and works of a seminal philosopher, historian, and literary critic.
On November 4th, venerated Stanford French Professor René Girard died in his sleep at age 91. The historian, literary critic, and philosopher of social science was known around the world for his hypotheses of “mimetic desire” and of “the scapegoat mechanism,” which have been taken up in fields as disparate as anthropology, sociology, theology, and economics. Entire foundations exist to further the insights and implications of Professor Girard’s research. His impact is such that he was hailed as “The Darwin of the Human Sciences” upon his election to the Académie Française in 2005.
Stanford University Press is proud to count René Girard among its authors. His seminal Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, a controversial bestseller in France, was published in English translation in 1987 and remains highly influential today. The same year saw the publication of his Job, The Victim of His People and Violent Origins, to which he was a key contributor. More recently, the press issued two collections of his essays, Oedipus Unbound and Mimesis and Theory. Professor Girard’s work has also been the impetus for that of other Stanford Press authors, including Stanford Professor Jean-Pierre Dupuy’s Mark of the Sacred and two books by UCLA’s Eric Gans.
The staff of Stanford University Press extends its deep condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Professor Girard. He was a vital asset to the Stanford community and to the broader community of scholars and students we serve, and his impact will endure through all of his books and those of the many people he continues to inspire.