There was a time when a literary talk show could attract around 6 million regular viewers on a weekly basis. Apostrophes was one such prime-time show on French television, every Friday night (on the channel France 2 or “Antenne 2”). It was born of the daring mind of Bernard Pivot, who also hosted the show as long as it ran (for fifteen years that is, from January 10, 1975 to June 22, 1990).

Guests included writers like Georges Simenon, Milan Kundera, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, Umberto Eco, Vladimir Nabokov, Susan Sontag, Marguerite Yourcenar, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, John Le Carré and Charles Bukowski. All types of intellectuals (from historians to sociologists) came by as well, like Pierre Bourdieu and Claude Lévi-Strauss. Political figures like François Mitterand and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing didn’t pass the invitation. Even the Dalai Lama was a welcome guest.

René Girard appeared on the show twice, a first time on June 6, 1978 (episode 150 of the show) presenting his seminal book Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde (Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World), and a second time together with Michel Serres in the special episode Deux Philosophes Français aux Etats Unis (July 21, 1989).