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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 ...

Homo Sexualis

Michael Ignatieff, 4 March 1982

Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800 
by Jeffrey Weeks.
Longman, 306 pp., £11, October 1981, 0 582 48333 6
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Sexual Preference: Its Development in Men and Women 
by Alan Bell, Martin Weinberg and Sue Kiefer Hammersmith.
Indiana, 242 pp., £9, October 1981, 9780253166739
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Pornography and Silence 
by Susan Griffin.
Women’s Press, 277 pp., £4.75, October 1981, 0 7043 3877 7
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The History of Sexuality. Vol. 1 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Robert Hurley.
Penguin, 176 pp., £2.25, May 1981, 0 14 022299 5
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... Is a history of sexuality possible? It is easy to envisage a history of the language of enticement, the trail of clothes on the floor, the bed even, but the coupling, the thing itself, how could we nail that to the historian’s rack? An instinct timeless in its force, an experience at once private, secret and charmingly individual, how could it be made to submit to dates and social determination? It is easier to admit that the language of love knows its different tropes and turns in time than to admit that, if this is so, the experience it represents must have a history too ...

Like water in water

Susan Rubin Suleiman, 12 July 1990

Theory of Religion 
by Georges Bataille, translated by Robert Hurley.
Zone, 126 pp., £16.25, April 1989, 0 942299 08 6
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My Mother, Madame Edwarda, The Dead Man 
by Georges Bataille, translated by Austryn Wainhouse.
Boyars, 222 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 7145 2886 2
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... was to rival the Angelic Doctor St Thomas Aquinas. I tried to imagine, as I read this book in Robert Hurley’s translation (which is on the whole excellent, although there are two mistranslations on page 85 which make a mess of an already difficult paragraph), what it would be like to read Theory of Religion without knowing any of Bataille’s other ...

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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... How are we to read the history 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 framework, presupposing a dialectics of drives, repression and liberation ...

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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... What is more important: is it the project of understanding why sexual desire is, or has become, a problem for us like no other, fraught with particular anxiety and special perplexity; or is it the task of establishing – maintaining, perhaps – principles according to which this desire can be regulated, guided, temporised? The change in relations between the sexes and the concomitant change in relations between members of the same sex, the double alteration that has come over us in the last two or three generations makes a certain kind of intellectual investigation possible for the first time ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Crap Towns, 23 October 2003

... When Robert Graves left Charterhouse School in 1914, the headmaster wrote in his report: ‘Well, goodbye, Graves and remember that your best friend is the wastepaper basket.’ (Charterhouse is the public school that was recently reported to be replacing its tuckshop with a branch of Starbucks, but in fact isn’t ...

Diary

Hugh Pennington: Smallpox Scares, 5 September 2002

... was glandular fever. On Saturday, 17 March, St Patrick’s Day, the patient in the next bed, Nora Hurley, gave Algeo a sprig of shamrock and lent her a paper called Ireland’s Own. The same evening Mrs Hurley’s son Thomas and his wife Margaret looked at the newspaper. Ann Algeo’s boss, Dr MacKenzie, visited her on ...

Issues of Truth and Invention

Colm Tóibín: Francis Stuart’s wartime broadcasts, 4 January 2001

The Wartime Broadcasts of Francis Stuart 
edited by Brendan Barrington.
Lilliput, 192 pp., £25, September 2000, 1 901866 54 8
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... was that the writer was an elderly man whose name carried with it an uncertain stigma. In 1983 Robert Fisk published In Time of War: Ireland, Ulster and the Price of Neutrality 1939-45 and this seemed to settle the argument about what Stuart had been doing in Germany. Fisk’s account of the episode was based on transcripts of Stuart’s broadcasts in the ...

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