Symbolic Exchange and Death / Edition 1

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Jean Baudrillard is one of the most celebrated and most controversial of contemporary social theorists. This major work, appearing in English for the first time, occupies a central place in the rethinking of the humanities and social sciences around the idea of postmodernism.

It leads the reader on an exhilarating tour encompassing the end of Marxism, the enchantment of fashion, the body and sex, economic versus symbolic exchange and their differing effects on the rituals of death. Most significantly, the book represents Baudrillard's fullest elaboration of the concept of the three orders of the simulacra, defining the historical passage from production to reproduction to simulation.

A classic in its field, Symbolic Exchange and Death is a key source for the redefinition of contemporary social thought. Baudrillard's critical gaze appraises social theories as diverse as cybernetics, ethnography, psychoanalysis, feminism, marxism, communications theory and semiotics.

This edition, translated by Iain Hamilton Grant, includes an introduction by Mike Gane and a bibliography of Baudrillard's works.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Iain Hamilton Grant's excellent translation of Symbolic Exchange and Death, perhaps Baudrillard's most widely admired text, or at least, as he himself once wryly observed, "the last book that inspired any confidence ".... For anyone seeking a way into Baudrillard's highly inventive, uncompromising, and occasionally maddening oeuvre, Symbolic Exchange and Death is still one of the best places from which to start
Radical Philosophy

Arguing that a political economy predicted on commodity value has long since been replaced by the political economy of the sign. Baudrillard traces the hyperrealist consequences of the "end of production" through chapters focusing on fashion, the body and death. The seeming inevitability of the triumph of the "semiotic" commodity over "symbolic" (gift) exchange is shown to be an error perpetrated by Marxist theory, which has itself been absorbed into "the code" that governs the transformation of value. Baudrillard's intention is to defeat the code by turning its own logic against it, inverting Marx, Freud, and finally Saussure in an effort to abolish "value" itself. His analysis is carried along on its own rhetorical force... achieves extraordinary insight into the malaise pervading late-capitalist societies

Of all the major works which contributed to the surge of interest in recent French philosophy, only two remained untranslated. Until now. Earlier this year saw the publication of Lyotard's Libidinal Economy. Now we have Baudrillard's Symbolic Exchange and Death. Baudrillard has a warm glow of nostalgia about his earlier work. He claims it is "the last book that inspired any confidence ". If the newly translated Symbolic Exchange and Death had been available earlier, the perception of Baudrillard as a postmodernist playboy might have been different. It bridges the gap between his early serious work and the later funny work
The Modern Review

This is easily Baudrillard's most important work. It is a key intervention in the debates on modernity and postmodernity and the site of his postmodern turn. Anyone who wants to understand the complexity and provocativeness of Baudrillard's richest period must read this text
Douglas Kellner

Without doubt Baudrillard's most important book
Mike Gane

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction - Mike Gane
The End of Production
The Order of Simulacra
Fashion, or The Enchanting Spectacle of the Code
The Body, or The Mass Grave of Signs
Political Economy and Death
The Extermination of the Name of God

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