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Death and the Labyrinth, New Edition [Paperback]

Michel Foucault


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Book Description

April 1 2004 Athlone Contemporary European Thinkers
Death and the Labyrinth is unique, being Foucault's only work on literature. For Foucault this was "by far the book I wrote most easily and with the greatest pleasure." Here, Foucault explores theory, criticism and psychology through the texts of Raymond Roussel, one of the fathers of experimental writing, whose work has been celebrated by the likes of Cocteau, Duchamp, Breton, Robbe-Grillet, Gide and Giacometti. This revised edition includes an Introduction, Chronology and Bibliography to Foucault's work by James Faubion, an interview with Foucault, conducted only nine months before his death, and concludes with an essay on Roussel by the poet John Ashbery.

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From Publishers Weekly

In Roussel's fictional world, a litter of kittens performs on parallel bars, people disguise themselves as tiny objects, a man wears a bracelet that is a giant earthworm. His novels, naive plays and poems, which mesmerized the French Surrealists, are populated by human machines, lovers taken by surprise, magical substances, prisons and tortuous signs. Roussel's word inventions inspired Giacometti, and Gide revered him as a genius, yet this recluse who apparently committed suicide in 1933 is today considered a minor writer. Foucault (Madness and Civilization originally published this in-depth literary study in 1963. Regarding Roussel's ties to the Surrealists as incidental, Foucault shows how Roussel used childlike devices, word puzzles, double entendre and free association to create modern myths and unlock the unconscious. Roussel's themes are imprisonment and liberation; Foucault, well-known for his studies of madness, prisons and sexuality, has a natural affinity for this compelling, sometimes obscure writer whose world of inhuman beauty seems always on the point of divulging its secrets. February 21
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This book was written about 20 years ago, just after Foucault had discovered the works of Roussel, a contemporary of Proust whose works, while not generally well known, have influenced a number of modern writers including Robbe-Grillet. Foucault explores the relation of words and things and paradoxes of language, time, and space in Roussel's work. This is the only work of Foucault that deals with literature as such and it is an interesting and illuminating performance. The book includes a useful introduction by John Ashbery and an interview with Foucault, but American readers who are not familiar with recent French criticism, Foucault, or Roussel will find it difficult and of marginal interest. Richard Kuczkowski, Dir., Continuing Education, Dominican Coll., Blauvelt, N.Y.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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