Silence = Death. White letters on a black background surmounted by a pink triangle, this was one of Act Up’s most striking slogans. The macabre equation can also be read backwards: Death = Silence. Because what AIDS has done to literature, to use the title of the fascinating book by art critic Elisabeth Lebovici (“What AIDS has done to me”), is to dig a hole in it, a gap. A long silence. In the 1990s, at the height of the epidemic, writers chose to chronicle, most often in the first person, their announced death, to tell a disease, stigmatized “gay cancer”, that society did not want to see . There was of course Hervé Guibert and his trilogy (“To the friend who did not save my life”, “Compassionate Protocol” and “The Man in the Red Hat”), radical auto (bio) pornography by Guillaume Dustan (“In my room”, “I’m going out tonight”, “Stronger than me”), “the Amphitheater of the dead, anticipated memories” by Guy Hocquenghem, but also the lesser known texts by Pascal de Duve ( “Cargo vie”) or Christophe Bourdin (“le Fil”).
All these authors have disappeared, and with them, HIV has deserted literature, the disease mowing down at the same time as the bodies of works that did not have time to happen, forever missing. As Elisabeth Lebovici points out, the symbolic death of the Author, stated by Roland Barthes “as a necessary condition for the coming of writing”a “joins in fact the real death of the
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