Politics, Writing, Mutilationwas first published in 1985. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Five twentieth-century French writers played, and continue to play, a pivotal role in the development of literary-philosophical thinking that has come to be known in the United States as post-structuralism. The work of Georges
Stoekl's critical readings of their work—selected novels, poems, and autobiographical fragments—reveal them to be battlegrounds not only of disruptive language practices, but of conflicting political drives as well. These irreconcilable tendencies can be defined as progressive political revolution, on the one hand with its emphasis on utility, conservation, and labor; and, on the other hand, a notion of dangerous and sinister production that stresses orgiastic sexuality and delirious expenditure. Caught between these forces is the intellectual of Bataille's time (and indeed of ours), locked in impotence, self-betrayal, and automutilation.
Stoekl develops his critique through dual readings of each writer's central work—the first reading deconstructive, the second a search for the political meaning excluded by a deconstructive approach. Repeating this process on a larger scale, he shows how Derrida and Foucault are indebted to their precursors even while they have betrayed them by stripping their work of political conflict and historical specificity. And he acknowledges that one of the most painful questions faced in prewar and Occupied France—that of the unthinkable guilt and duplicity of the intellectual—may not be as remote from contemporary theoretical concerns as some would have us believe.
Allan Stoekl is professor of French and Comparative Literature at Penn State University. He edited and translated Visions of Excess: Selected Writings of Georges Bataille, 1927-1939, also published by Minnesota.
Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible to scholars, students, researchers, and general readers. Rich with historical and cultural value, these works are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. The books offered through Minnesota Archive Editions are produced in limited quantities according to customer demand and are available through select distribution partners.