Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

200 × 130 × 11 mm
160 pages
20 illustrations
01 Sep 2004
Critical Lives

Michel Foucault David Macey

Throughout most of his career, Michel Foucault consistently refused to say much about himself and was reluctant to be defined in either professional or personal terms. His stance was ‘Do not ask who I am, and do not ask me to remain the same’. In the last years of his life, he changed his stance, gave many interviews and began to speak of an 'aesthetics of existence' in which ‘the life’ and ‘the works’ merged into one.

In this new biography and critical work, David Macey argues that these contradictory views make it possible to relate Foucault’s work to his life in an original and exciting way. Moving between the major works and Foucault’s life (and especially his political life) Macey demonstrates a vital aspect of Foucault’s writings - their concern with issues that apply to everyone and that have an immediate effect on our lives.

The book also explores the complex intellectual-political world in which Michel Foucault lived and worked. It traces his career, which took him from a comfortable provincial background to the pinnacle of the French academic system, in terms of the networks of friendship and the relations of power that sustained it. Macey concludes that Foucault was a very good and successful strategist and campaigner and that his association with certain periodicals and journals at certain periods was not a matter of chance, but reflected strategic alliances that were formed within a political-cultural field in constant motion.

‘David Maceys Michel Foucault provides an interesting and enjoyable introduction to the life of the French philosopher . . . very suitable reading for those curious about the context in which Foucaults work emerged, while the rich collection of photographs puts a face on one of the most popular names in todays social sciences. Maceys work succeeds in constructing a very complex, contradictory and fluid Foucault, escaping our attempts to label or categorize the person, his life and his work.’ — Foucault Studies

‘This detailed little biography of the French theorist of sexuality, punishment and madness is also a neat primer of his ideas. Without using the life to explain the work, or using the writing to give clues about the personality, Macey interweaves Foucaults intellectual, public and private lives. The events of May 1968 and at Vincennes Experimental University are dealt with subtly. This excellent series should dispel many of the silly shibboleths about critical theory.’ — Scotland on Sunday

Show all

David Macey is the author of The Lives of Michel Foucault (1993) and Frantz Fanon: A Biography (2000).

Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements