Mathieu Lindon

Mathieu Lindon is the author of nineteen books and a staff writer for Libération. Learning What Love Means received the prestigious Prix Medici in France in 2011 and was the first of his works to appear in English.

  • Hervelino


    Mathieu Lindon

    On Hervé Guibert and the difficulty of writing and speaking about someone beloved and revered.

    “Soon that was my nickname for Hervé, what with my habit of italianizing the names of my nearest and dearest … Hervelino: that didn't make me think so much of Hervé as of us both. The word might not seem like much but it was him and it was me, he took it for himself.”

    Mathieu Lindon met the writer and photographer Hervé Guibert in 1978. The nickname Hervelino marked the start of their friendship, which was cemented a decade later by the years they both spent in Rome. Guibert was a pensionnaire at the Villa Médicis starting in 1987; Lindon became a fellow pensionnaire the next year, and the two would stay in Italy until 1990. These Roman years are at the heart of this autobiographie à deux that alternates between humor and melancholy. Guibert had just learned that he was HIV-positive and would die not long after returning to France and rising to fame with his searing masterpiece To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life—in which Lindon himself was a character.

    Hervelino is a book about the difficulty of writing and speaking about someone beloved and revered. In recounting their time in Italy, Lindon contends with the impossibility of writing about Guibert: “To write about Rome is to skip over everything I don't dare to write because it's so hard to make sense of Hervé.” Hervelino is a story of a singular friendship, and of the books read and shared by the friend who was loved and lost. As it closes with each inscription Guibert wrote for his friend Mathieu and with Lindon's present-day commentary below it, what remains are shards and fragments of a friendship sealed by illness and death, enshrined by literature and love.

    • Paperback $16.95
  • Learning What Love Means

    Learning What Love Means

    Mathieu Lindon

    A memoir of a friendship with Michel Foucault that changed the author's life.

    “I loved Michel as Michel, not as a father. Never did I feel the slightest jealousy or the slightest embitterment or exasperation when it came to him.  … I was intensely close to Michel for a full six years, until his death, and I lived in his apartment for close to a year. Today I see that time as the period that changed my life, my cut-off from a fate leading to the precipice. In no specific way I'm grateful to Michel, without knowing for exactly what, for a better life."—from Learning What Love Means

    In 1978, Mathieu Lindon met Michel Foucault. Lindon was twenty-three years old, part of a small group of jaded but innocent, brilliant, and sexually ambivalent friends who came to know Foucault. At first the nominal caretakers of Foucault's apartment on rue de Vaugirard when he was away, these young friends eventually shared their time, drugs, ambitions, and writings with the older Foucault. Lindon's friend, the late Herve Guibert, was a key figure within this group. The son of the renowned founder of Editions de Minuit, Lindon grew up with Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and Samuel Beckett as family friends. Much was expected of him. But, as he writes in this remarkable spiritual autobiography, it was through his friendship with Foucault—who was neither lover nor father but an older friend—that he found the direction that would influence the rest of his life.  

    As Bruce Benderson writes in his introduction, “The book is a collage of free-associated episodes and interpretatons that together compose for the reader a kind of manual about how to love. … As he runs from apartment to apartment, job to job, or lover to lover, the book becomes a story of conversion testifying to an author's radical change of viewpoint, which leads to his invitation into the social world through lessons about love.” A brilliant meditation on friendship, Learning What Loves Means provides an insight into a part of Foucault's life and work that until now, remained unkown. The book won the prestigious Prix Médicis in 2011 when it was published in French.

    • Paperback $16.95