Jean-François Paillard: How does one become a major French intellectual?

Jean Baudrillard: My career's been an atypical one. With grandparents who were peasant farmers in the Ardennes and parents who had moved to the town and become white-collar workers, I'm a member of that generation in which the sons of the middle classes were able to get into higher education without much difficulty. But I gave up on the idea of a prestigious teaching career early on. I was a secondary school teacher for a long time, but all I ever had to my name was the CAPES.1 I didn't go to the École normale supérieure, which was the obligatory route into university teaching at the time. I didn't do a state doctorate either and I never reached the rank of university professor, despite twenty years spent teaching sociology at...

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