Insult and the Making of the Gay Self

Insult and the Making of the Gay Self

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A bestseller in France following its publication in 1999, Insult and the Making of the Gay Self is an extraordinary set of reflections on "the gay question" by Didier Eribon, one of France's foremost public intellectuals. Known internationally as the author of a path-breaking biography of Michel Foucault, Eribon is a leading voice in French gay studies. In explorations of gay subjectivity as it is lived now and as it has been expressed in literary history and in the life and work of Foucault, Eribon argues that gay male politics, social life, and culture are transformative responses to an oppressive social order. Bringing together the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, and Erving Goffman, he contends that gay culture and political movements flow from the need to overcome a world of insult in the process of creating gay selves. Eribon describes the emergence of homosexual literature in Britain and France at the turn of the last century and traces this new gay discourse from Oscar Wilde and the literary circles of late-Victorian Oxford to Andre Gide and Marcel Proust. He asserts that Foucault should be placed in a long line of authors--including Wilde, Gide, and Proust--who from the nineteenth century onward have tried to create spaces in which to resist subjection and reformulate oneself. Drawing on his unrivaled knowledge of Foucault's oeuvre, Eribon presents a masterful new interpretation of Foucault. He calls attention to a particular passage from Madness and Civilization that has never been translated into English. Written some fifteen years before The History of Sexuality, this passage seems to contradict Foucault's famous idea that homosexuality was a late-nineteenth-century construction. Including an argument for the use of Hannah Arendt's thought in gay rights advocacy, Insult and the Making of the Gay Self is an impassioned call for critical, active engagement with the question of how gay life is shaped both from without and more

Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • 154.9 x 231.1 x 30.5mm | 680.4g
  • Duke University Press
  • North Carolina, United States
  • English
  • 0822333716
  • 9780822333715
  • 709,937

Review quote

"Ebiron offers a powerful indictment of homophobia in contemporary society, but his passionate polemic serves an even more vital purpose: at a moment when gay identity has been reduced to a 'lifestyle', he reminds us of the broad intellectual scope and far-reaching political promise of the gay movement." David M. Halperin, author of How to Do the History of Homosexuality "With lucid and exemplary patience, Didier Eribon dissolves more than a century of transatlantic thought-blockages. The result is a deeply clarifying book."--Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, author of Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity "Didier Eribon's new book is a brilliant study of the ways in which gay subjectivity is at once constituted by homophobic discourse and, from within that discourse, finds the terms with which to forge a queer resistance and a queer freedom. Not only does it add an invaluable dimension to queer theory in the United States; it will be read by an even wider audience for its incisive and original analysis of the relation between culture and subjectivity."--Leo Bersani, author of Homos, The Culture of Redemption, and Caravaggio's Secrets (with Ulysse Detoit)show more

Back cover copy

"Best known in the United States for his biography of Michel Foucault, Didier Eribon is well known in France as an eloquent and influential gay critic and advocate. This stunning analysis of the continuing power of antihomosexual insult to shape gay lives shows us why. A tour de force of cultural criticism, erudition, and social engagement, Eribon's work demonstrates the intellectual breadth and radical potential of queer critique."--George Chauncey, author of "Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940"show more

About Didier Eribon

Didier Eribon is a philosopher, historian, and journalist in France, where he writes frequently for the weekly news magazine" Le Nouvel Observateur." In addition to his biography" Michel Foucault, " he is the author of books including" Une morale du minoritaire: Variations sur un theme de Jean Genet" and" Heresies: Essais sur la theorie de la sexualite."Michael Lucey is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of "The Misfit of the Family: Balzac and the Social Forms of Sexuality "(published by Duke University Press) and "Gide's Bent: Sexuality, Politics, Writing."show more

Table of contents

Forward: The language of the tribe Part 1 A world of insult The shock of insult; The flight to the city; Friendship as a way of life; Sexuality and professions; Family and "melancholy"; The city and conservative discourse; To tell or not to tell; Heterosexual interpellation; The "subjected soul"; Caricature and collective insult; Inversions; On sodomy; Subjectivity and private life; Existence precedes essence; Unrealizable identity; Perturbations; The individual and the group Part 2 Specters of Wilde How "arrogant pederasts" came into being; Un unspeakable vice; A nation of artists; Philosopher and lover; Moral contamination; The truth of masks; The Greeks against the psychiatrists; The democracy of comrades; Margot-la-boulangere and the Baronne-aux-epingles; From momentary pleasures to social reform; The will to disturb; The "preoccupation with homosexuality" Michel Foucault's heterotopias Much more beauty; From night to the light of day; The impulse to escape; Homosexuality and unreason; The birth of perversion; The third sex; Producing subjects; Philosophy in the closet; When two guys hold hands; Resistance and counter-discourse; Becoming gay; Among men; Making differencesshow more