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Sexuality and Solitude

Michel Foucault and Richard Sennett, 21 May 1981

... Richard SennettA few years ago, Michel Foucault and I discovered we were interested in the same problem, in very different periods of history. The problem is why sexuality has become so important to people as a definition of themselves. Sex is as basic as eating or sleeping, to be sure, but it is treated in modern society as something more ...

After Foucault

David Hoy, 1 November 1984

Philosophy in France Today 
edited by Alan Montefiore.
Cambridge, 201 pp., £20, January 1983, 0 521 22838 7
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French Literary Theory Today: A Reader 
edited by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by R. Carter.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £19.50, October 1982, 0 521 23036 5
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Histoire de la Sexualité. Vol. II: L’Usage des Plaisirs 
by Michel Foucault.
Gallimard, 285 pp., £8.25, June 1984, 2 07 070056 9
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Michel FoucaultBeyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics 
by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow.
Chicago, 256 pp., $8.95, December 1983, 0 226 16312 1
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The Foucault Reader 
edited by Paul Rabinow.
Pantheon, 350 pp., $19.95, January 1985, 0 394 52904 9
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Michel Foucault and the Subversion of Intellect 
by Karlis Racevskis.
Cornell, 172 pp., £16.50, July 1983, 0 8014 1572 1
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Michel Foucault’s Archaeology of Western Culture: Toward a New Science of History 
by Pamela Major-Poetzl.
Harvester, 281 pp., £22.50, May 1983, 0 7108 0484 9
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Michel FoucaultSocial Theory as Transgression 
by Charles Lemert and Garth Gillan.
Columbia, 169 pp., £8.50, January 1984, 0 231 05190 5
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Foucault, Marxism and Critique 
by Barry Smart.
Routledge, 144 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9533 3
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... With the death of Michel Foucault the end of another era of French philosophy suddenly seems imminent. Jean-Paul Sartre died long after the Existentialist era had dwindled, and that phase of his philosophical work had been absorbed. Like Jacques Lacan’s death, however, Foucault’s comes at a point where debate has not settled the question of either the viability of his vision or the importance of the Post-Structuralist period ...

Unhappy Man

P.N. Furbank, 22 July 1993

The Lives of Michel Foucault 
by David Macey.
Hutchinson, 599 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 09 175344 9
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The Passion of Michel Foucault 
by James Miller.
HarperCollins, 491 pp., £18, June 1993, 0 00 255267 1
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... Larkin there come two new lives – whether they are ‘revelatory’ will need pondering – of Michel Foucault. It is a suggestive coincidence. The one an exemplar of humanism, the other a grand exponent of anti-humanism, they are about the best in the way of writers their two countries have lately produced, and at their death they seemed to leave as ...

Coping

David Armstrong, 19 February 1981

The Policing of Families 
by Jacques Donzelot, translated by Robert Hurley.
Hutchinson, 242 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 09 140950 0
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... Michel Foucault has of late become something of a cult figure in the Anglo-Saxon world. His critics can point out that he has the necessary qualifications for guru status, in that his writings have tended to be cross-disciplinary, obscure and fairly opaque. Yet his work has recently taken on a new clarity and, moreover, he has acknowledged that in his previous studies he had missed an important explanatory variable – namely, ‘power ...

Foucault’s Slalom

David Hoy, 4 November 1982

Michel FoucaultBeyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics 
by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, with an afterword by [afterword_writer].
Harvester, 256 pp., £18.95, October 1982, 0 7108 0450 4
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... sense’, they appear to cast aside respect for truth, tradition, reality and reason. Michel Foucault is a case in point, for his books typify the manoeuverings that result. There is a growing body of secondary literature explaining his vagarious development, and the best study so far is a joint effort by two Berkeley scholars, Hubert ...

Beyond Nietzsche and Marx

Richard Rorty, 19 February 1981

Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977 
by Michel Foucault, edited by Colin Gordon.
Harvester, 270 pp., £18.50, October 1980, 9780855275570
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Michel FoucaultThe Will to Truth 
by Alan Sheridan.
Tavistock, 243 pp., £10.50, November 1980, 0 422 77350 6
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Herculine Barbin 
by Oscar Panizza and Michel Foucault, translated by Richard McDougall.
Harvester, 199 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 85527 273 2
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... great philosophers left alive. At the end of his book, Alan Sheridan hesitantly stakes a claim for Foucault: ‘It is difficult to conceive of any thinker having, in the last quarter of our century, the influence that Nietzsche exercised over its first quarter. Yet Foucault’s achievement so far makes him a more likely ...

Je m’en Foucault

Vincent Descombes, 5 March 1987

FoucaultA Critical Reader 
edited by David Hoy.
Blackwell, 246 pp., £27.50, September 1986, 0 631 14042 5
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Foucault 
by Gilles Deleuze.
Minuit, 141 pp., frs 58, February 1986, 2 7073 1086 7
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... At the time, only expert readers were able to guess that the masked philosopher in question was MichelFoucault. Foucault had no objection to the practice of giving interviews: he gave several under his own name, and they often yielded some remarkably fine ...

Washed and Spiced

Peter Bradshaw, 19 October 1995

The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture 
by Jonathan Sawday.
Routledge, 327 pp., £35, May 1995, 0 415 04444 8
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... Dr Paul-Michel Foucault, a wealthy and conservative surgeon, is deeply irritated by his young son’s evident disinclination to follow him into medicine and apparently infuriated by his effete strain of bookishness. He decides to toughen the boy up by introducing him to the bracing and heroic virilities a surgeon habitually displays ...

These are intolerable

Richard Mayne, 10 September 1992

Michel Foucault 
by Didier Eribon, translated by Betsy Wing.
Faber, 374 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 571 14474 8
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... at the brilliant but wayward second Duke of Buckingham could be applied, with reservations, to Foucault: A man so various,that he seem’d to be Not one, but all Mankinds Epitome. Stiff in Opinions, always in the wrong; Was every thing by starts, and nothing long. He was certainly just as volatile. In his twenties a Stalin-quoting Communist, he ...

Dancing in Her Doc Martens

Lorna Scott Fox, 18 September 1997

Monsieur Shoushana’s Lemon Trees 
by Patricia Duncker.
Serpent’s Tail, 197 pp., £9.99, August 1997, 1 85242 572 5
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... breathed the Guardian’s review of Patricia Duncker’s first novel, Hallucinating Foucault. But co-opting the defenceless Michel Foucault into a romanticised fantasy about the Reader does not guarantee a novel’s intellectuality. The story of the timid Cambridge student who falls in love with the ...

Sex in the head

Roy Porter, 7 July 1988

The History of Sexuality. Vol. III: The Care of Self 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Robert Hurley.
Allen Lane, 279 pp., £17.95, April 1988, 0 7139 9002 3
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... of sexuality? In the Introduction volume to his great multi-volume essay in critical-revisionism, Michel Foucault set out to demystify the discourse which has informed post-Victorian accounts about sex, whether therapeutic (Reich), scholarly (Bloch) or polemical (Marcuse). Such histories were traditionally cast in a progressive, Whiggish, emancipatory ...

Being on top

John Ryle, 20 February 1986

Sexual Desire 
by Roger Scruton.
Weidenfeld, 428 pp., £18.95, February 1986, 9780297784791
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The History of Sexuality. Vol. II: The Use of Pleasure 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Robert Hurley.
Pantheon, 293 pp., $17.95, December 1985, 0 394 54349 1
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Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times 
by Philippe Ariès and André Béjin, translated by Anthony Forster.
Blackwell, 220 pp., £17.50, April 1985, 9780631134763
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No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States since 1880 
by Allan Brandt.
Oxford (New York), 245 pp., £18.50, August 1985, 0 19 503469 4
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Jealousy 
by Nancy Friday.
Collins, 593 pp., £12.95, January 1986, 0 00 217587 8
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... the occasions for action, the objects of sympathy and the places of rest’. For the late Michel Foucault the problem was just the opposite: to separate the two issues and locate the historical moment when sexual desire became a particular focus of moral attention. ‘What is philosophy,’ he writes, ‘if not the endeavour to know how and to ...

Denunciations

Ruth Scurr: Foucault in the Bastille, 14 December 2017

Disorderly Families: Infamous Letters from the Bastille Archives 
by Arlette Farge and Michel Foucault, edited by Nancy Luxon, translated by Thomas Scott-Railton.
Minnesota, 328 pp., £28.99, January 2017, 978 0 8166 9534 8
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... challenged to a duel, for being a violent menace. In his essay ‘Lives of Infamous Men’, Michel Foucault argued that the fame of these victims of lettres de cachet is misleading: ‘Their infamy is only a modality of the universal fama.’ True infamy ‘mixed neither with ambiguous scandal, nor with secret admiration, compounds no kind of ...

Sexual Subjects

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 21 October 1982

The Sexual Fix 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £12.95, June 1982, 0 333 32750 0
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Questions of Cinema 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 257 pp., £12.50, August 1981, 0 333 26122 4
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‘Sight and Sound’: A 50th-Anniversary Selection 
edited by David Wilson.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.50, September 1982, 0 571 11943 3
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... Bijoux Indiscrets’, a man acquires a ring which has the power to make sexual organs speak. Michel Foucault says that he wants to make that ring speak for itself. (He sketched part of his project in this paper last summer: Vol. 3, No 9.) Sexuality ‘traces that line of foam which shows just how far speech may advance on the sands of silence’. To ...

Before Foucault

Roy Porter, 25 January 1990

The Normal and the Pathological 
by Georges Canguilhem, translated by Carolyn Fawcett and Robert Cohen.
Zone, 327 pp., £21.95, June 1989, 0 942299 58 2
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... deviancy. By the Sixties, Canguilhem could of course cite in his support his one-time student, Michel Foucault, whose work laid bare the ‘normalising’ role of the modern disciplines of medicine, pedagogy, penology and psychiatry. The insights and analytic strategies common to both will be instantly evident to all readers of The Normal and the ...

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