- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (April 14, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780679724698
- ISBN-13: 978-0679724698
- ASIN: 0679724699
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 96 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction Reissue Edition
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"The Care of the Self shares with the writings on which it draws the characteristic of being carefully constructed, exquisitely reasoned and internally cogent." -- The New York Times Book Review
"Foucault is a thinker from whose writing one can infer lessons for our modern lives and dilemmas."-- Boston Globe
From the Inside Flap
The author turns his attention to sex and the reasons why we are driven constantly to analyze and discuss it. An iconoclastic explanation of modern sexual history.
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Foucault represents four distinct areas of concern developing in the 18th century (France?) as mechanisms for advancing power and knowledge of sex. These categories are; the hysterization of women’s bodies, pedagogization of children’s sex, psychiatrization of perverse pleasure, and socialization of procreative behavior. All these themes are developed and expanded in this work. His view point seems to be rather narrow and myopic from a historical basis. I was hoping for a more rounded approach to the subject.
It is very important to note that this is not a history of sex. It is not even a history of talking about sex. It is a history of the way in which talking about sex was structured over the last three hundred years, his primary thesis being that contrary to popular belief, the Victorian era, roughly between 1835 and 1903, was NOT a period where talk about sex was repressed. To be sure, Freud and the other psychoanalysts made major influences in how we talk about sexuality, but Freud was as much a milestone as it was a cause of the change. The book is devoted to two critical shifts in attitudes about sex. The first was from the onset of legislation about sex early in the industrial age, to the formation of sexual archetypes or "types of sexuality". The second major shift, which contributed to the first, was the simultaneous change in the value put on human life. This was brought about by agricultural advances which abolished famine in many countries, and the advance in medicine which showed that by attending to good practices, one can substantially improve and lengthen one's life. This trend was embraced by governments, which discovered the need for lots of people to keep the new industries running.
Make no mistake. Foucault is difficult to read, but you have the assurance of those who have gone before that the journey is worth the effort. One nice perk of reading thie book is that you get a chance to read sn iportant contemporary thinker who is totally imbued with Nietzschean concepts. One can almost hear Nietzsche talking over Foucault's shoulder. Unforturnately, Foucault does not have Nietxaxhe's flair for writing sparkling prose.
I will warn you that the editor of this translation would have done us a favor by providing footnotes to explain some of Foucault's references, such as the fact that "The Plumed Serpent" was written by D. H. Laurance and that Jean Martin Charcot was the founder of scientific neurology, and Sigmund Freud's teacher at the Paris Saltpetraire hospital. Keep your Wikipedia open to look this stuff up as you read.
To soften the blow of Foucault's rather dense beginning, I suggest you read the last chapter first. It explains what it is that Foucault is all about.