At the time of his death in 1984, at the age of fifty-eight, Michel Foucault was widely regarded as one of the most powerful minds of this century. Hailed by distinguished historians and lionized on his frequent visits to America, he continues to provoke lively debate. The nature and merits of his accomplishments remain tangled in controversy. Rejecting traditional liberal and Marxist "dreams of solidarity," Foucault became the very model of the modern intellectual, replacing Sartre as the figure of the eminent Parisian and cosmopolitan master thinker.
Foucault himself discouraged biographical questions, claiming that he was "not at all interesting." Didier Eribon's captivating account overthrows that assertion. As a journalist well acquainted with Foucault for years before his death, Eribon was particularly well placed to conduct the dozens of interviews which are the cornerstone of this book. He has drawn upon eyewitness accounts by Foucault's closest associates from all phases of his life--his mother, his schoolteachers, his classmates, his friends and enemies in academic life, and his celebrated companions in political activism, including Simone Signoret and Yves Montand. Eribon has methodically retraced the footsteps of his peripatetic subject, from France to Sweden to Poland to Germany to Tunisia to Brazil to Japan to the United States. The result is a concise, crisply readable, meticulously documented narrative that debunks the many myths and rumors surrounding the brilliant philosophe--and forces us to consider seriously the idea that all his books are indeed, just as Foucault said near the end of his life, "fragments of an autobiography."
Who was this man, Michel Foucault? In the late 1950s Foucault emerged as a budding young cultural attaché, friendly with Gaullist diplomats. By the mid-1960s he appeared as one of the avatars of structuralism, positioning himself as a new star in the fashionable world of French thought. A few months after the May 1968 student revolt, with Gaullism apparently shaken, he emerged as an ultra-leftist and a fellow traveler of Maoists. Yet during this same period, Eribon shows, he was quietly and adroitly campaigning for a chair in the College de France--the very pinnacle of the French academic system. This book does more than follow the career of one extraordinary intellectual. It reconstructs the cultural, political, and intellectual life of France from the postwar years to the present. It is the story of a man and his time.
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
A meticulous and authoritative biography of the influential French philosopher and historian, by an editor at Le Nouvel Observateur who was closely acquainted with Foucault during his later years. Foucault (1926-84) is known in this country mainly as one of the prime exemplars of structuralism, the radical school of thought developed in the late 60's and 70's to question the foundations of many social and philosophical systems. In reality, as Eribon makes clear, Foucault was more of an intellectual historian than a philosopher, and achieved his greatest successes when attempting to set forth the ``archaeology'' of a concept or idea. This is what he did in Madness and Civilization, which traced the development of Western notions of sanity and reason as reflected in social attitudes towards madness. His monumental History of Sexuality, left unfinished at his death, was to provide a similar blueprint for the modern understanding of eroticism. Eribon's exposition is readable and clear, and makes good use of the many interviews he held with Foucault during his lifetime, as well as his meetings with Foucault's colleagues and friends. The picture that emerges is of someone at once distant and complex: Foucault hated easy characterizations and refused to ``take sides'' when it came to politics or philosophy. His early dalliance with Marxism quickly gave way in the late 50's, and his later conservatism evaporated as soon as he won his post at the College de France (where, during the 70's and 80's, he became known as one of the most active leftists in the country). Solitary and rather reclusive despite his wide circle of friends, Foucault's public life was largely restricted to his professional writings, and it is to Eribon's credit that he concentrates mainly on these, since they provide the truest picture of Foucault available. Superbly written and carefully documented: Eribon has managed to provide a scholarly exegesis of Foucault that will also serve as a good introduction for the lay reader. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Descrizione libro Harvard University Press, 1992. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Never used!. Codice libro della libreria P110674572866