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200 × 130 × 12 mm
224 pages
27 illustrations
01 Jul 2017
Critical Lives

Jean-François Lyotard Kiff Bamford

Jean-François Lyotard is one of the most important, and complex, French thinkers of the twentieth century. Best known in the English-speaking world for his book The Postmodern Condition, the multi-faceted nature of Lyotard’s work has often been obscured by its sometimes problematic association with the postmodern. His life refuses to follow the clear trajectory common to academics in France: it stalls and hesitates, with Lyotard’s first ‘career’ consisting of fifteen years of militant Marxist political engagement. Kiff Bamford traces this circuitous journey, unravelling the thrust of Lyotard’s main philosophical arguments, his struggle with thinking and his confrontation with the task of writing and thinking philosophy in a different way. These all take place within a series of very particular contexts: the Algerian war, the experimental university at Vincennes and a sustained engagement with the visual arts.

Lyotard’s own tentative reflections on his intellectual life help to frame his suspicions of easy narratives and highlight his rejection of ‘the delusion that we are able to programme our life’. It is by following these cautions that Kiff Bamford is able to present a compelling portrait of a challenging subject.

‘A magisterial introduction to a complex but important thinker that elucidates and contextualises the writer in equal measure.’ — Andy Stafford, Senior Lecturer in French Studies, University of Leeds, and author of Roland Barthes

‘An impressively detailed survey of Jean-François Lyotard’s work and cultural milieu, that fills a real gap in Lyotard studies.’ — Stuart Sim, Professor in Critical Theory at Northumbria University, Newcastle

‘Though Kiff Bamford makes no claim to definitively fill this gap, his book is the first to offer extensive and reliable biographical information on Lyotard. Taking into consideration the limits set to the author by the format of the series in which this biography appears,one can only admire how Bamford, on the basis of his intimate knowledge of the whole oeuvre, has succeeded in tracing lines between Lyotard’s life, thought, and work.’ — Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy

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Kiff Bamford is an artist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Art, Architecture and Design at Leeds Beckett University. He is the author of Lyotard and the ‘Figural’ in Performance, Art and Writing (2012).