Jaime Semprun has died

Jaime Semprun, a French author and publisher, died in Paris on 3 August 2010. He was 63 years old. The announcement of his passing was made six days later by Encyclopédie des Nuisances, the publishing house that Semprun founded. It appears that he died from complications arising from hepatitis.

Jaime Semprun was born on 26 July 1947. His father, Jorge Semprun, was a well-known Spanish author and politician who went into exile in France after the Spanish Civil War. He worked for the Resistance until his arrest and deportation to Buchenwald by the Gestapo. After the defeat of the Nazis, Jorge returned to Paris, where he married the French dramatist Loleh Bellon.

In the 1960s, Jaime was interested in filmmaking and acting. He wrote the screenplays for a short film entitled Le meutre du père and a feature-length film entitled La sainte famille. He also appeared as an actor in Philippe Garrel’s Le lit de la vierge, released in 1970.

Inspired by the Situationist International, and in contact with Guy Debord starting in 1975, Semprun published two books through Editions Champ Libre: La Guerre sociale au Portugal (1975) and Précis de recuperation (1976). Between 1977 and 1985, he contributed to the production of Roger Langlais’ journal L’Assommoir. In 1980, Editions L’Assommoir published Semprun’s book La Nucléarisation du monde; it was reprinted by Editions Ivrea (formerly Editions Gerard Lebovici) in 1986.

In 1984, in the aftermath of the murder of Gerard Lebovici (a film producer, the founder of Editions Champ Libre and a personal friend of Debord), Semprun and the ex-situationist Christian Sebastiani founded the journal Encyclopédie des Nuisances. Published until 1992, this journal produced 15 issues, including a couple with significant contributions from Debord. After 1987, Debord no longer had any contact with either Semprun or his journal.

In 1993, Semprun terminated the journal and launched the publishing house Encyclopédie des Nuisances (EdN), which would go on to publish books by such contemporary authors as Baudouin de Bodinat, Theodore Kaczynski, Jean-Marc Mandosio, and René Riesel, as well as classics by Chuang Tzu, George Orwell, and Günther Anders. The EdN would also publish books by Semprun himself, including Dialogues sur l’achèvement des Temps modernes (1993), L’Abîme se repeuple (1997), Apologie pour l’insurrection algérienne (2001), Défense et illustration de la novlangue française (2005), and Catastrophisme, administration du désastre et soumission durable (2008, written in collaboration with the ex-situationist René Riesel).

Except for excerpts from the book about Algeria, none of Semprun’s many books have been translated into English. We will attempt to rectify this situation in the coming months.

11 August 2010

Note added 7 February 2013: we have translated Semprun's The Social War in Portugal (1975) from French into English.

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