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Jean Baudrillard (Routledge Critical Thinkers) [Hardcover]

Richard J. Lane
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 22, 2009 0415474477 978-0415474474 2

Jean Baudrillard is one of the most controversial theorists of our time, famous for his claim that the Gulf War never happened and for his provocative writing on terrorism, specifically 9/11. This new and fully updated second edition includes:

  • an introduction to Baudrillard’s key works and theories such as simulation and hyperreality
  • coverage of Baudrillard’s later work on the question of postmodernism
  • a new chapter on Baudrillard and terrorism
  • engagement with architecture and urbanism through the Utopie group
  • a look at the most recent applications of Baudrillard’s ideas.

Richard J. Lane offers a comprehensive introduction to this complex and fascinating theorist, also examining the impact that Baudrillard has had on literary studies, media and cultural studies, sociology, philosophy and postmodernism.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard J. Lane is a professor in the English department, at Vancouver Island University, Canada, where he also directs the Literary Theory Research Group and Seminar for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. He is the author or editor of eight books, including Fifty Key Literary Theorists (Routledge).

Product Details

  • Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (January 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415474477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415474474
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,707,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Concise & Accessible Introduction August 7, 2003
I'm trying to gain a perspective on key postmodern thinkers, so I can't really contextualize this work within others on or by Baudrillard. What I can say is that this book provides an excellent overview of Baudrillard's theories, his influences and his milieu. Lane also makes it a point to introduce important concepts (like structuralism, deconstruction, modernism) as though they are being encountered for the first time. This is really nice since most of texts on or by people like Baudrillard, Derrida, and their ilk can be difficult to penetrate because of the neologisms and assumptions about the foreknowledge of the reader. In addition to providing an accessible introduction to and broad overview of Baudrillard, the book also features recommendations for further reading which I think is an excellent aspect. It's obviously not the end-all-be-all on Baudrillard or postmodernism, but it's an excellent start in my opinion.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Postmodern embodiment... March 17, 2004
Richard J. Lane's text on Jean Baudrillard is part of a recent series put out by the Routledge Press, designed under the general editorial direction of Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway, University of London), to explore the most recent and exciting ideas in intellectual development during the past century or so. To this end, figures such as Paul Ricouer, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and other influential thinkers in critical thought are highlighted in the series, planned to include more than 21 volumes in all.
Lane's text, following the pattern of the others, includes background information on Baudrillard and its significance, the key ideas and sources, and Baudrillard's continuing impact on other thinkers. As the series preface indicates, no critical thinker arises in a vacuum, so the context, influences and broader cultural environment are all important as a part of the study, something with which Baudrillard might agree,
Why is Baudrillard included in this series? This series is primary for critical thinking in a literary sense, but also develops the cultural criticism aspect of which literary theory cannot help but be a part. Baudrillard, as Lane suggests, is not only one of the more famous names in postmodernism, but practically embodies postmodernism in his own work. Key ideas and catch-phrases of Baudrillard include 'simulation', 'hyperreal', and 'implosion of meaning'. Baudrillard is very much a product of the French literary/philosophical school of the 1960s, opting eventually toward a radical reworking of both primitive cultures and post-Marxist thought that some critics see as inconsistent and confused, but definitely not to be ignored.
One of the useful features of the text is the side-bar boxes inserted at various points.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent companion volume November 9, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This volume is a very good introduction to Baudrillard for those unacquainted with his writings, and a useful companion volume to a thorough study of his texts. Unlike the "[Philosopher] in 90 minutes" series, the "Introducing" series, etc., this book is intended as a supplement to the primary texts, not as a simplified condensation of the original texts for the casual inquirer who wishes to appear well-read.

Cultural influences on Baudrillard are discussed at length (the Monnet projects in post-WWII France; the student revolt in Paris in May '68); etc. Also, many of the key concepts that Baudrillard appropriated from other thinkers are situated in context by reference to their origins with Foucault (the panopticon as a model for contemporary culture), Bataille (excess, expenditure - the escape from Hegel), Mauss ("potlatch"), Debord (spectacle), and others.

Some of the scandals associated with Baudrillard's writings - the fights with various feminists over his notorious remarks about women, his misconstrued analysis of the United States in "America," and of course the bru-ha-ha over his wildly misunderstood claim that "the Gulf War did not happen" - are rather neatly side-stepped in this volume with a paradigm in which Baudrillard's later writing (after "Symbolic Exchange and Death") is understood as performative, with an emphasis on hyperbole, exaggeration, fictionalization and, above all, humor.

A few disadvantages of this volume are largely caused by the date of its publication: completed in 1999, it does not address Baudrillard's final works, particularly his analyses of 9-11; nor does it include any commentary on the most important pop-cultural manifestation of Baudrillard's work, namely the Matrix trilogy.
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