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The Passion of Michel Foucault


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Foucault has been acclaimed as one of France's most influential and certainly controversial 20th-century philosophers. Miller has thoroughly researched and presented Foucault's intellectual journey, from his early (and lifelong) fascination with Nietzsche, through his studies in psychiatry in Sweden, attempts to remove his personality when presenting a history of science, and radical leftist political activism, to his delving into the world of sensation, the ``limit-experience,'' and the will to know. Miller details Foucault's quest to understand himself, which included an exploration of homosexuality and sadomasochism, experimentation with drugs, and a fascination with death. He also recounts Foucault's death from AIDS. This important and readable study is recommended for academic and large public libraries.-- Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md.

This brilliant study assiduously exposes the life and thought of the French historian/philosopher/social activist Michel Foucault (1926-1984), whose work continues to exert a tremendous influence, particularly in academia. Miller ( ``Democracy Is in the Streets'' ) interprets Foucault in the light of one of the latter's favorite maxims, the poet Rene Char's injunction to ``develop your legitimate strangeness.'' The book focuses on Foucault's obsession with death, expressed via sado-masochism, drug use and, finally, his disregard of safe sex practices even as he was dying from AIDS. Miller, however, builds a case for Foucault's legitimacy as a cultural theorist: he delivers the most thorough and balanced exposition of Foucault's difficult writings that has yet to appear, underlining how Foucault's work expresses and explains his anguish. Controversy will surround Miller no less than Foucault: his intense style sensationalizes his revelations, and he relies heavily on anecdotal evidence. Meanwhile, his focus on his subject's personality will irk those who believe that Foucault the philosopher sought to proclaim the end of individuality. But Miller's well-reasoned introduction and copious documentation will help combat charges of superficiality and facility. First serial to Lingua Franca. ( Jan.)

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