The Use of Pleasure


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‘No brief survey can do justice to the richness, complexity, and detail of Foucault’s discussion… subtle and penetrating’ New York Review of Books

Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, an incisive analysis of the changing nature of desire, represents one of the boldest and most challenging intellectual achievements of recent decades.

The Use of Pleasure (and the two companion volumes) offers an original and controversial account of the emergence of Christianity from the Ancient World. Here Foucault describes the stranger byways of Greek medicine (with its advice on the healthiest season for sex, as well as on exercise and diet), the permitted ways of courting young boys, and the economists’ ideas about the role of women. The book is full of extraordinary insights into the differences — and the continuities — between the Ancient, Christian and Modern worlds. But Foucault does far more than merely re-create a vanished era when sex was not a major moral issue (only Plato, like Saint Paul, saw puritanical restraint as the way of wisdom); he makes us rethink our own assumptions about sex.

‘A man of the same era as Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Jacques Derrida and Jean Baudrillard, he was, in his writings and his life, the most accessible of them all, as well as the most beguiling’ Richard Gott, Guardian

‘Always provocative, needling, disconcerting’ Washington Times

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