‘The Check-Up’ by Hervé Guibert, translated by Elizabeth Fallaize

Guibert is the author of the beautiful and brutal A L’ami qui ne m’a pas sauvé la vie (To The Friend Who Did Not Save My Life), an account both of Michel Foucault’s death from AIDS and of Guibert’s unfolding illness (he died of AIDS aged 36). He has a completely inimitable style, and this story has all the singularity and ferocity of his writing, over just three short pages. It’s an account, mostly in unmarked dialogue, of a child’s refusal to undress under the gaze of a doctor, and his insistence that the doctor must conduct his investigation blindfolded. I’m not sure what date the story was written, but I find it hard not to see hovering behind it his friend Foucault’s preoccupation with the clinic, with the disciplinary gaze, with relations of power, and with the surfaces and depths of the body.

In The Oxford Book of French Short Stories, OUP, 2002

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