In this Modern Master on Jacques Lacan (1901-81), Malcolm Bowie presents a clear, coherent introduction to the work of one of the most influential and forbidding thinkers of our century. A practising psychoanalyst for almost 50 years, Lacan first achieved notoriety with his pioneering article on Freud in the 1930s. After the Second World War, he emerged as the most original and controversial figure in French psychoanalysis, and because a guiding light in the Parisian intellectual resurgence of the 1950s, Lacan initiated and subsequently steered the crusade to reinterpret Freud's work in the light of the new structuralist theories of linguistics, evolving an elaborate, dense, systematic analysis of the relations between language and desire, focusing on the human subject as he or she is defined by linguistic and social pressures. His lectures and articles were collected and published as Ecrits in 1966, a text whose influence has been immense and persists to this day. Knowledge of Lacan's revolutionary ideas, which underpin those of his successors across the disciplines, is useful to an understanding of the work of many modern thinkers - literary theoriest, linguists, psychoanalysts, anthropologists. Malcolm Bowie's accessible critical introduction provides the perfect starting point for any exploration of the work of this formidable thinker.
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Malcolm Bowie is Master of Christ's College, Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Member of the Modern Language Association of America, and an Officier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques. His books include Mallarme and the Art of Being Difficult; Freud, Proust and Lacan: Theory as Fiction; Lacan; and Proust among the Stars, which was a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 1999 and won the 2001 Truman Capote Prize for Literary Criticism.Review:
This is an astonishing feat of exposition, clear, judicious and economical in argument, and written with an elegance one would not have believed possible on so intractable a subject. Having read Bowie, one can revisit Lacan buoyed up by the conviction that he is a psychoanalytical thinker absolutely worth tangling with, a genuine enlarger of the mind and not a fly-by-night showman. Lacan is here thoroughly elucidated without being made simple, the elucidator having invested his intellectual all in being equally fair to the tortuosities of his subject and the needs of his readers. (John Sturrock London Review of Books)
While there have been a number of good studies introducing readers to Lacan's vatic discourse, Bowie's book strikes me as quite the best general presentation and evaluation of Lacan's thought. Witty, concise, irreverent, admirably well-written, Bowie's study represents a remarkable feat of organization and exposition. (Peter Brooks Times Literary Supplement)
I believe that this is the first true introduction to Lacan's work in English. [Bowie] brilliantly retraces the evolution of Lacan's thought, from the first essays to the mature writings. (Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, University of Washington)
Well-written, well-argued, cogent, enjoyable to read--these are hardly the words that spring to mind when one thinks of a book about one of the most obscure and self-absorbed thinkers influencing literary and cultural analysis today; yet they describe this remarkably accessible and intelligent new study of the French psychoanalyst...Bowie cuts to the essential issues of Lacan's thought and intellectual development. For those put off by Lacan's pomposities and those engaged by his brilliance, Bowie's introduction is an indispensable new resource. (Virginia Quarterly Review)
An introduction which simplifies nothing, an initiation which demystifies, and an invitation to the widest possible English-speaking readership to have a look, or another look, at Lacan. (Katharine Swarbrick Times Higher Education Supplement)
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