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Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Alexandre Grothendieck and Survivre et Vivre

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Alexandre Grothendieck and Survivre et Vivre

By Adam Davis


Survivre et Vivre was a radical environmentalist magazine which was issued c. 1970 to 1973, and published by the group of the same name, formed by the eccentric genius and founder of modern algebraic theory - the mathematician Alexandre Grothendieck, certainly one of the most fascinating figures in modern science.

At least 19 issues were published. I've been on the lookout for this magazine for several years, and have only been able to track down numbers 11-19. OCLC locates holdings only at the BIBLIOTHEEK UNIVERSITEIT Van Amsterdam and the Bibliotheque Internationale.

Grothendieck was born in Berlin, the son of anarchist parents. He was opposed to the war in Vietnam, and is famed for having lectured in the forest surrounding Hanoi as it was being bombed. In 1970 Grothendieck left the world of institutional mathematics over a dispute over military funding of the institution he taught at, the IHES. At this time he formed Survivre et Vivre.

Grothendieck is rumored to now be living in isolation, perhaps in the Pyrenees. During this time a number of manuscripts he is purported to have written have emerged in limited circulation, some on apocalyptic or millenarian themes. In 2010 he is reported to have declared that all of his works published since he left academia were published without his permission, and requested that duplication of his work cease, and that libraries containing his later works should remove them.  

The graphics of Survivre et Vivre seem to betray an influence from Situationism, featuring satirical underground comics, collages, and detourneed comic strips and advertisements. In these issues I find work by Grothendieck, Jean-Marie Damais, Francois Maille, Didier Savard, Denis Guedj, D. Meuret, Robert Jaulin, and Louis Dewez.

I can't find any writings on the magazine in any language, and in a way this post is something of a cry for help - I'm looking for anybody who might know anything about this strange magazine, which seems conspicuously absent from any account of the underground press during that period. Send me an email.

(Posted on Spineless & Stapled. Presented here by permission of the author.)

Published since 26 Jun 2013

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