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17 December 1992
‘L’Avenir dure longtemps’ suivi de ‘Les Faits’: Autobiographies 
by Louis Althusser.
Stock, 356 pp., frs 144, May 1992, 2 234 02473 0
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Louis AlthusserUne biographie. Vol. I: La Formation du mythe 
by Yann Moulier Boutang.
Grasset, 509 pp., frs 175, April 1992, 2 246 38071 5
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... of the normally suppressed discourse of madness. Now, from the man who coached Foucault in philosophy, we have another bold and engrossing first-person work which could have borne the title ‘Moi LouisAlthusser ayant étranglé ma femme ... ’, for L’Avenir dure longtemps is the garlanded Marxist philosopher’s long essay in explanation of how he came to strangle his wife late in 1980. Pierre ...

Althusser’s Fate

Douglas Johnson

16 April 1981
The Long March of the French Left 
by R.W. Johnson.
Macmillan, 345 pp., £20, March 1981, 0 333 27417 2
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One-Dimensional Marxism 
by Simon Clarke and Terry Lovell.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 85031 367 8
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Communism and Philosophy 
by Maurice Cornforth.
Lawrence and Wishart, 282 pp., £8.95, July 1980, 0 85315 430 9
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The Crisis of Marxism 
by Jack Lindsay.
Moonraker, 183 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 0 239 00200 8
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Class in English History 1680-850 
by R.S. Neale.
Blackwell, 250 pp., £12, January 1981, 0 631 12851 4
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... Is it easy to be a Marxist?’ LouisAlthusser put this question to a crowded audience at the University of Picardy in 1975. Is it possible to be an Althusserian? The question has to be asked now. Althusserian Marxism has always been under threat ...

Top of the Class

Geoffrey Hawthorn

8 May 1997
The State Nobility 
by Pierre Bourdieu, translated by Lauretta Clough.
Polity, 475 pp., £45, November 1996, 0 7456 0824 8
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... the orthodox Marxism-Leninism of the French Communist Party. His essays on Algeria in the early Sixties talked of a ‘solidarity’ fashioned in more adversarial circumstances. At the same time, LouisAlthusser was trying to revive the Party’s materialism with his notion of the ‘ideological state apparatuses’ that did capitalism’s work with powers that were distinctively their own ...

Disaffiliate, Reaffiliate, Kill Again

Jeremy Harding: Régis Debray

7 February 2008
Praised Be Our Lords: The Autobiography 
by Régis Debray, translated by John Howe.
Verso, 328 pp., £19.99, April 2007, 978 1 84467 140 3
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... Regis Debray has led the fullest of lives, embroiled in ideology, controversy and action. As a young man at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, he sat at the feet of LouisAlthusser; he trained in the use of assault weapons with Fidel Castro; he trod the thankless Bolivian forests with Che Guevara and served nearly four years in jail for his trouble. In Chile he was taken up by ...
8 March 1990
The Dialectic of Change 
by Boris Kagarlitsky, translated by Rick Simon.
Verso, 393 pp., £29.95, January 1990, 0 86091 258 2
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... disadvantages, not all of which result from his relative isolation in Moscow over the years. He tells us in a footnote that he has only just learned of the personal disaster which overtook LouisAlthusser a decade ago (this in the context of a rather lenient judgment of Althusser’s work as ‘monstrously pseudo-philosophical’, which I was glad to see appearing under at least one of the rubrics of ...

Dynasty

Sherry Turkle: Lacan and Co

6 December 1990
Jacques Lacan and Co: A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925-1985 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by Jeffrey Mehlman.
Free Association, 816 pp., £25, December 1990, 9781853431630
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... May 1968. The May events were a festival of speech and desire and psychoanalysts were perceived as the professionals of both. In the context of May, Lacanianism had a special cachet. It was linked to Althusser’s Marxism and Dali’s Surrealism, both excellent credentials for a movement that found itself caught between Marx and street theatre. Anti-establishment and anti-American in his politics within ...
7 February 1985
The Function of Criticism: From the ‘Spectator’ to Post-Structuralism 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 133 pp., £15, September 1984, 0 86091 091 1
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... been due to the adventurism of a critic swiftly assimilating, and memorably responding to, wave after wave of neo-Marxist theory. As major influences, Sartre, Williams, Lukacs, Goldmann, Anderson, Althusser, Macherey, Benjamin, Derrida and the feminist movement have followed one another in quick succession. The Function of Criticism, hard on the heels of The Rape of Clarissa and Literary Theory: An ...

The Hippest

Terry Eagleton

7 March 1996
Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues 
edited by David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen.
Routledge, 514 pp., £45, February 1996, 0 415 08803 8
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... the Seventies from left-Leavisism to ethnomethodology, flirted half-heartedly with phenomenological sociology, emerged from a brief affair with Lévi-Straussian Structuralism into the glacial grip of LouisAlthusser, moved straight through Gramsci to post-Marxism, dived into discourse theory and teetered on the brink of Post-Modernism. Hall himself, having left the Centre in 1979 for the Chair of ...

On Complaining

Elif Batuman: How to Stay Sane

20 November 2008
Philosophy in Turbulent Times: Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by William McCuaig.
Columbia, 184 pp., £15.50, November 2008, 978 0 231 14300 4
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... philosopher is offering us a conceptual shovel. What one immediately notices about this shovel is its close resemblance to the avalanche: Philosophy in Turbulent Times: Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida looks very much like a vast ledger full of entries for ‘people who have become things’. (Would Bouvard and Pécuchet feel or think any better if they found such a thing in the ...

Paliography

John Sutherland

15 September 1988
The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins 
by William Clarke.
Allison and Busby, 239 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 0 85031 960 9
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Wilkie Collins: Women, Property and Propriety 
by Philip O’Neill.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £27.50, September 1988, 9780333421994
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... and Propriety, a critical monograph which contains not so much as a paragraph’s worth of biographical summary in its relentless new-Marxist, male-feminist analysis of half a dozen Collins texts. LouisAlthusser gets three mentions in the index, Caroline Graves none. O’Neill’s thesis is that Collins’s fiction ‘deliberately subverts the popular literary representation of women’. Collins ...

Derridiarry

Richard Stern

15 August 1991
... Derrida was staying, and he told me a bit about him. His wife was Czech, they had two sons, one an anthropologist in France, the other a student of philosophy in the States. For twenty years he and LouisAlthusser had been the philosophy department of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, where he himself had gone to School. After Althusser’s disaster (he’d gone mad, killed his wife), Derrida had been ...
22 December 1983
Mémoires 
by Raymond Aron.
Julliard, 778 pp., frs 120, September 1983, 9782260003328
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Clausewitz: Philosopher of War 
by Raymond Aron, translated by Norman Stone and Christine Booker.
Routledge, 418 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9009 9
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Clausewitz 
by Michael Howard.
Oxford, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 19 287608 2
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... who had agreed to let me work with him, died a week before I was to see him, in the fall of 1968. As pensionnaire étranger at the Ecole Normale Supérieure I thought I might be able to turn to LouisAlthusser, but discovered that he was not technically qualified to supervise doctoral work. From an earlier stay in Paris I knew Gaston Fessard, an old friend of Aron and the author of what I believe ...
17 July 1980
Arguments within English Marxism 
by Perry Anderson.
New Left Books, 218 pp., £3.95, May 1980, 0 86091 727 4
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Capitalism, State Formation and Marxist Theory 
edited by Philip Corrigan.
Quartet, 232 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 7043 2241 2
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Writing by Candlelight 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 286 pp., £2.70, May 1980, 0 85036 257 1
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... other side of the Atlantic. Furthermore, in a cunning jest of History, some Marxist philosophers have latterly enlisted in the armies of the Right in denying Lebensraum to Marxist history. In France, LouisAlthusser and his disciples, and in England followers such as Paul Q. Hirst and Barry Hindess, have argued that the business of Marxist intellectuals is to construct not history but theory (e.g. a ...

Diary

Wendy Lesser: On O.J. Simpson

21 July 1994
... regular activities, his professional equipment, as it were. This let out people like Genghis Khan and Hitler – who were, in any case, only ‘arrested’ in the sense of being stopped. I proposed LouisAlthusser, but was condescendingly told that an academic political theorist who strangled his wife hardly counted as famous in the terms we were using. (The first response of my tablemates was ...

The Terror Trail

Tariq Ali: The real story of Daniel Pearl

20 May 2004
A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Daniel Pearl 
by Mariane Pearl.
Virago, 278 pp., £7.99, March 2004, 1 84408 126 5
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Who Killed Daniel Pearl? 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy.
Duckworth, 454 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7156 3261 2
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... I inquired. ‘Nouvelle Kaboul,’ he replied. The audience tittered. Perhaps they, too, suddenly saw him as Tintin in Afghanistan. At the Ecole Normale Supérieure in the mid-1960s Lévy was one of Althusser’s star pupils. He then became a leading intellectual of the French Communist Party and the editor of its cultural magazine, Lettres françaises. A decade later he discovered the gulags. Why did it ...

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