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Hallucinating Foucault by Patricia Duncker

Hallucinating Foucault (1996)

by Patricia Duncker

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6281923,013 (3.94)1 / 39



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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Overrated. The relation between reader and writer as a theme does not particularly interest me. It is not about Foucault in any obvious way. What is interesting though is the schizophrenia of Paul Michel. It reminds me of Kierkegaard and the way existentialism is analysed in The denial of death by Ernest Becker cq Colin Wilson The Outsider. ( )
  freetrader | Mar 3, 2019 |
Not really sure why this is on the 1001 books list. Didn’t grab me. Seemed a bit too much like navel-gazing for the Cambridge set (e.g. “we went to Browns for lunch” – oh did we now? It’s not what it was, though) and littered with characters who are a just far enough removed from everyday reality to actual relate to insanity.

So, there’s this guy whose written some novels and he’s a bit like a cross between Jack Kerouac and Holden Caulfield, an anarchist homosexual who has to be French (I mean, could he be anything else?) And this undergrad at Cambridge falls in love with his writing which is really a metaphor for falling in love with the novelist and so he hears that no one has a clue where he is now and it turns out he’s been sectioned and is in some asylum outside Paris. With the thinly veiled excuse of research trip, off trots our star-struck student on a quest that is as much a search for self as it is a search for other.

And they strike up this relationship and it’s all a bit coming-of-age, even though this undergrad is supposedly not only an adult by this point but also part of the Oxbridge elite. Anyway, the inevitable happens and some of the anarchy rubs off on the impressionable protagonist but before it can all end in tears in one way, it ends in tears in another way.

It all seemed a bit predictable to me and I would definitely NOT follow the advice of the Observer review that says “If you buy one book make it Hallucinating Foucault…” No, really, don’t. This is an okay novel that really doesn’t “explore with consummate mastery the passionate relationship between reader and writer.” If you want to really see “consummate mastery” of that topic, see If on a winter’s night a traveller… ( )
  arukiyomi | May 19, 2018 |
Hallucinating Foucault by Patricia Duncker published in 1996 was her debut novel. It is the story of a postgraduate students quest from Cambridge to psychiatric hospital to the shores of southern France to rescue the author of his thesis. It is the story of the love between the writer and the reader.

The author of the book is called Paul Michel which happens to be the name of Michel Foucault. Paul-Michel Foucault is a famous French philosopher whose thories address power and knowledge. Foucault died in 1984 of complications of HIV/AIDs. The writer Paul Michel quit writing after the death of his "reader" Michel Foucault.

The book was published in 1996 and addressed issues of homosexuality, madness, and touched on AIDS/HIV. The originality is the part about addressing the love affair between writer and reader but this is not a new thought. It has been covered in other books like If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. The plot was mostly connected but the connecting of Paul Michel and Michel Foucault, the Germanist, the doctor, etc was all a little loose. The characters wer mostly well developed, the setting and scenes were descriptive with a lot of comments about smells especially of the asylum smelling of urine and excrement. It was readable. A short book and I finished it in a couple of days of reading. It won a price in England and it is on the 1001 Books list. The book addressed issues of homosexuality such as a choice or born that way. The prose was mostly good with some foul language and sexual content. Sexual content is not overly descriptive but it is present.

Favorite quotes,
"Fiction...was beautifully, unauthentic and useless, a profoundly unnatural art, designed purely for pleasure. He described the writing of fiction, telling stories, telling lies, as a strange obsesssion, a compulsive habit. He saw his own homosexuality in similar terms; as a quality that was at once beautiful, useless, the potentially perfect pleasure.

Pg 28, he was opposed to "the born" and was in the "choose to be camp" (paraphrased.

"Because we do not believe in the stability of reality, we know it can fragment, like a sheet of glass or a car windscreen. But we also know that reality can be invented, reordered, constructed, remade. Writing is, in itself, an act of violence perpetrated against reality." Pg 120.

"Madness and passion have always been interchangeable." ( )
  Kristelh | Jul 4, 2017 |
Me faltan las palabras para describir lo mucho que amo este libro, a pesar de la mala traducción(Miguel Martínez-Lage, hace el favor de dedicarte a otra cosa!), a pesar de no entender ni la mitad del francés que sale (¿Cómo es que a nadie se le ocurre poner cosas en castellano en un libro en inglés sin dar traducciones pero el francés está permitido? Tipo, siglo XXI, el francés ya fue, ya no es la lengua de "cultura", ojalá alguien se acordase!). [return][return]Homosexuality plays a very important part but mainly it's a novel about love, the reader-writer love that goes beyond silly things like gender. *Spoiler of a kind: I was one of those convinced Paul Michel was a real person and who was disappointed to discover otherwise when I tried to Google his novels halfway through, of course he still remains very real to me! [return]http://readingz.livejournal.com/100720.html ( )
  askajnaiman | Jun 14, 2016 |
This was a fascinating debut by Patricia Duncker. She explains the relationship between the writer and the reader showing how a novel can be written simply and clearly while being deeply felt. Her prose wraps around you and doesn't let go until the final page. The book takes you to the world of dark obsession and current notions of madness. The characters were well developed and interesting. I look forward to reading more by this author as I find her to be quite talented. ( )
  EadieB | Jan 19, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375701850, Paperback)

An intricate and self-reflective novel about that most delicate of relationships--meaning the one between writers and readers. The narrator, an anonymous graduate student, sets off on the trail of a French novelist named Paul Michel, who is currently confined to an asylum. Engineering his hero's release, the narrator finds himself enmeshed in bizarre love triangle, of which the three vertices are himself, the novelist, and the late Michel Foucault. Sex, it seems, can be made safe, but the oddball intimacy of reading cannot.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:48 -0400)

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A gripping tale of a mad writer, the glamorous, scandalous Paul Michel, enfant terrible of French letters, and of a student who sets out to find him.

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