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Gilles Deleuze: An Introduction Hardcover – January 17, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0521843096 ISBN-10: 052184309X

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052184309X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521843096
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,384,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...a well-organized and accessible account of a difficult philosopher." - De Philosophia, Stephen B. Hawkins, University of Ottawa

"The trajectory May suggests for reading and understanding Deleuze is incisive and suggestive. We can only hope that in the near future we will see more of May's work on Deleuze, including a deeper and more thorough engagement with the problems that he so rightly and elegantly identifiies." - Ella Brians, The New School for Social Research

Book Description

This book offers a readable and compelling introduction to the work of one of the twentieth century's most important and elusive thinkers. Other books have tried to explain Deleuze in general terms. Todd May organizes his book around a central question at the heart of Deleuze's philosophy: how might we live? The author then goes on to explain how Deleuze offers a view of the cosmos as a living thing that provides ways of conducting our lives that we may not have dreamed of.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By David Morris on June 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a great, beautiful and timely book. It introduces Deleuze's philosophy by first of all having us think about a problem central to Deleuze's philosophy, the question "How might one live?" From this question, May unfolds Deleuze's ontology of difference and his views of life, thinking, science, language, teaching and politics. The book is compelling and highly accessible-and does something no other book on Deleuze that I know of does-precisely because it gets us to see Deleuze's point not simply through Deleuze's difficult writing and novel concepts, but through a familiar question that each one of us might live. And so May takes us into an enormous and rich field of life, from Prigogine's and Monod's science of chaos and chance, to the Palestinian intifada, to the life of John Coltrane, to life in urban America, to erotics.
Gille Deleuze: An Introduction is a book not simply for the scholar or the student, but for the one who might want to live differently, who might want to see how thinking differently about the world and life can open a different way of living. It might change your life. It might not. It should be read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Brian C. on March 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
There are two general introductions to the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze that I feel comfortable recommending to the first time reader of Deleuze. One is this book by Todd May, and the other is Gilles Deleuze (Routledge Critical Thinkers) by Claire Colebrook. In some ways I think that Claire Colebrook's book is slightly more accessible, but they both have different focuses so I recommend reading both.

Todd May structures his interpretation around the question "How might one live?" This is a different question from the one that has traditionally been asked in Western philosophy, "How should I live?" Todd May begins his book on Deleuze by explaining the difference between these two questions, and by relating Deleuze's attempt to answer this question to similar attempts made by philosophers like Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. Foucault and Derrida ask a similar question but, unlike Deleuze, they consider a general critique of ontology as a necessary first step in opening the possibility of asking such a question. It is ontology, and metaphysics, which attempts to determine the essence of beings, as well as their possibilities, which tends to stifle the question "How might one live?" since one's possibilities are already determined by one's essence. Deleuze does not reject ontology, but attempts to work out an ontology that allows for the possibility of the new, and creative transformation.

This leads Deleuze to prioritize difference over identity. This is actually one of the more difficult aspects of Deleuze's philosophy to grasp because it is one of Deleuze's contentions that representation is incapable of grasping difference in itself.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark E. Simpson on December 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone who is well-versed in Foucault, less so in Deleuze (and not at all in Derrida), I found the first chapter of this book to be a lovely simple yet fruitful little exposition situating these three titans of contemporary French philosophy as three distinctive responses to the Nietzschean legacy. Further, May helpfully distinguishes Deleuze in a way that separates him from Foucault/Derrida on the question of ontology. Now, these may be obvious/broad distinctions, but since this is an introduction, it is appropriate, and the text is written in a way that is very useful/accessible for english-speaking philosophers who may be unfamiliar (or worse) with Deleuze and other French philosophers.

I really enjoyed and highly recommend some of May's other works (e.g. the one on poststructuralist anarchism and between genealogy and epistemology on foucault), but I think this is perhaps his best; an elegant and powerful contribution that fills an important need--making Deleuze more readily accessible to students and anglophone philosophers.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JOATMON on June 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gilles Deleuze seems to write in a "stream of consciousness" fashion. Someone described his writing as akin to driving around a city with signless, winding streets full of dead ends and cul de sacs. May does an excellent job of teasing out and summarizing the key themes of Deleuze's work. Reading May in conjunction with select Deleuzian works will give you a much greater appreciation for Deleuze and may even influence how you view life. I cannot give May the fifth star because I found he does not always set the right level of explanation - sometimes too cursory, sometimes too much.
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