Michel Foucault

Overview

With Michel Foucault, Reaktion Books introduces an exciting new series that brings the work of major intellectual figures to general readers, illuminating their groundbreaking ideas through concise biographies and cogent readings.
There is no better thinker than Foucault with which to begin the "Critical Lives" series. Though reticent about his personal life for most of his career, Foucault, in the last years of his life, changed his stance on the relationship between the ...

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Michel Foucault

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Overview

With Michel Foucault, Reaktion Books introduces an exciting new series that brings the work of major intellectual figures to general readers, illuminating their groundbreaking ideas through concise biographies and cogent readings.
There is no better thinker than Foucault with which to begin the "Critical Lives" series. Though reticent about his personal life for most of his career, Foucault, in the last years of his life, changed his stance on the relationship between the personal and the intellectual and began to speak of an "aesthetics of existence" in which "the life" and "the work" become one. David Macey, a renowned expert on Foucault, demonstrates that these contradictions make it possible to relate Foucault's work to his life in an original and exciting way. Exploring the complex intellectual and political world in which Foucault lived and worked, and how that world is reflected in his seminal works, Macey paints a portrait of Foucault in which the thinker emerges as a brilliant strategist, one who-while fiercely promoting himself as a maverick-aligned himself with particular intellectual camps at precisely the right moments.
Michel Foucault traces the philosopher's career from his comfortable provincial background to the pinnacle of the French academic system, paying careful attention to the networks of friendships and the relations of power that sustained Foucault's prominence in the academy. In an interview in 1966, Foucault said, "One ought to read everything, study everything. In other words, one must have at one's disposal the general archive of a period at a given moment." It is precisely this archive that Macey restores here, accessibly relating Foucault's works to the particular context in which they were given form.

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Editorial Reviews

Scotland on Sunday - S.B. Kelly
"This detailed little biography of the French theorist of sexuality, punishment and madness is also a neat primer of his ideas…This excellent series should dispel many of the silly shibboleths about critical theory."
New York Sun - Carl Rollyson
"Mr. Macey's account of Foucault's political evolution is compelling."
New York Times - William Grimes
"This may be everyone's last, best chance to get a handle on Michel Foucault before he disappears from the radar screen. . . . David Macey does the job."
Foucault Studies - Delia Despina Dumitrica
"An interesting and enjoyable introduction to the life of the French philosopher. This very brief book is very suitable reading for those curious about the context in which Foucault's work emerged, while the rich collection of photographs puts a face on one of the most popular names in today's social sciences. . . . the strength of Macey's work lies in its attempt to capture not only the 'essence' of an individual identity, but rather the contradictory multiplicity of the self, its fluid and mosaic nature."
Publishers Weekly
Macey (Lives of Michel Foucault, 1993) has authored another fascinating biography of Michel Foucault, one of the most influential French philosophers since World War II. The new biography one-fourth the length of the first deftly intertwines accounts of Foucault s schooling, work, travels, personal life and political activism. Macey s concise summaries offer a glimpse of the extraordinary breadth of Foucault s work, which explored the history of madness in the classical age, the emergence of the human sciences, medicine as a means of social control and changes in the regulation of prisoners, workers, psychiatric patients and sexual desires. Macey highlights what many consider Foucault s most groundbreaking insight: that power is not simply repressive: it generates discourses rather than silencing them. For example, Victorian Britain was not characterized by a silence about sexuality, but by a proliferation of discourses that incited talk about sexuality. The book s greatest strength is its attention to Foucault s political activism on behalf of university reform, prison reform, gay rights, the Vietnamese Boatpeople and other causes. He downplays some of the more sensational aspects of Foucault s life by situating him within the political and intellectual worlds of his day. Disputing the myth that [Foucault] was an unconditional supporter of Khomeini, Macey argues that there was a fairly widespread belief in far-left circles in Europe [...] that forces like the Mujahideen guerrillas would emerge to lead a people s revolution. He also counters the scandals surrounding Foucault s AIDS-related death in 1984, when some charged that he concealed his illness, or willfully infected others. Foucault knew he was seriously ill, but little was known about AIDS at that time. His longtime partner, Daniel Defert, founded AIDES, France s first organization for people with AIDS in the fall of 1984. If we had [...] been ashamed, I would never have created AIDES, said Defert. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

David Macey is the author of The Lives of Michel Foucault and Frantz Fanon: A
Biography.

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Table of Contents

One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
References
Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements

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