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The Passion of Michel Foucault

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  221 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Based on extensive new research and a bold interpretation of the man and his texts, "The Passion of Michel Foucault" is a startling look at one of this century's most influential philosophers. It chronicles every stage of Foucault's personal and professional odyssey, from his early interest in dreams to his final preoccupation with sexuality and the nature of personal iden ...more
Paperback, 492 pages
Published April 14th 2000 by Harvard University Press (first published January 1st 1993)
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Dec 23, 2012 AC rated it it was amazing
An intellectual biography that is absolutely first-rate..., intelligent, intriguing... for anyone who want to understand not just Foucault (who turns out to be a far more intricate and sympathetic figure than I would have thought), but the whole nature of the postwar postmodernist scene: Nietzschean, Heideggerian, Surrealists...

There is one telling and amusing anecdote that Miller recounts. Habermas spent a short time in the Winter of 1983 at the Collège France, and though the two had many philo
Barry Graham
Jun 29, 2013 Barry Graham rated it did not like it
Here is a condensed version of this book:

Michel Foucault was gay. He was a philosopher and was gay. He had gay sex, with men who were also gay but probably not as gay as he was. He was profoundly influenced by Samuel Beckett, who was not gay, but Foucault was gay enough for everyone. He was also influenced by Alain Robbe-Grillet, who was straight, but Foucault remained gay. If he could have had gay sex with Nietzsche, he would have. He disagreed with Sartre, but would probably have had gay sex w
Sep 04, 2009 Conrad rated it liked it
Not bad as far as biographies go, though I think ol' Baldy is deserving of a more intellectual-biography-type approach. Not that the Rolling Stone reporter who wrote this is a slouch. The facts of Michel Foucault's life are a lot less interesting than the product he put out.

This focuses largely on his early- and mid-period work rather than his later work which contains traces of liberalism, such as the last two volumes of History of Sexuality and his late lectures at UC-Berkeley. It discusses at
Konstantin Perov
Mar 28, 2016 Konstantin Perov rated it it was amazing
I can still quite vividly recall reading this glorious hagiography of Michel Foucault – O Thine Blessed Paraclete of Self-Mutilating Onanism! – for the first time a few years ago by some lumpen and decidedly sickly-looking devotee of its subject, one Mr Miller. Overall, this volume persisted in my memory by virtue of the intrepid rigor with which its author pursued the twists and turns of the astonishing psychosexual dialectical series to which M. Foucault resorted in a lifelong quest to engorge ...more
William West
I feel profoundly ambivalent about this book. I could not help but think as I read it that Miller's biography was a willfull violation of everything the philosopher stood for and, as Miller's text itself proclaims, saught to escape from his whole life.

Perhaps, as Miller suggests in his final pages, Foucault's philsophical texts form a collective, autobiographical riddle. But should those that admire Foucault not then leave him to the opaque shadows he so cherished? In reducing the thinker to a
Apr 08, 2011 Megan rated it liked it
I haven't read some of the other standard biographies of Foucault, so I can't really write a comparative review. But I think in as much as I tend to gravitate towards Foucault's later work on ethics, I found Miller's choice to orient his biography around Foucault's work and statements from later in life, and also his death, to be a satisfying choice.

I'm interested in the controversy that this book seemed to stir up, and the strong feelings exhibited by many reviewers towards it. Many of these se
Kathleen O'Neal
Jan 05, 2015 Kathleen O'Neal rated it liked it
James Miller's "The Passion of Michel Foucault" seemed to me more like two books than one in a certain sense. The first book would involve chapters one through seven and if I were to rate this section of the work by itself then I would give it two stars. The author gives all too little information about Foucault in these pages and it is in fact quite difficult in many places to follow any sort of temporal narrative in relation to Foucault's life as one reads these chapters. In these chapters, M ...more
Jul 15, 2016 Andrew added it
Shelves: foucault, biography
I knew I liked this, and then I knew that I would probably not much care to be in a room with Michel Foucault, no matter how much I liked his books. Jim Miller focuses primarily on the relationship of Foucault to all those acronyms that would define him (LSD, BDSM, HIV), as a counterpoint to Sartre as the previous dark lord of French philosophy, and the role of Nietzsche in the development of Foucault's thought. Now, there's not very much of Foucault's thought in and of itself. We get a brief ov ...more
Nov 24, 2007 Kate rated it really liked it
If you want to understand Michel Foucault, this biography is the place to start. Read this and THEN read Foucault. It will give you perspective on his philosophy.
David M
Jul 13, 2015 David M rated it it was amazing
This book has provoked passionate denunciation. See this rather amusing review from the New Criterion:

More surprisingly, perhaps, the occasional gay, left-wing intellectual also had a bone to pick. David Halperin devoted the better part of his book Saint Foucault to attacking this biography, but in essence he seems to be complaining that the biographer, James Miller, is not himself a gay man.

People get highly territorial when it comes to Foucault.

It's a
Michael Burnam-fink
Feb 17, 2012 Michael Burnam-fink rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic, biography, 2012
Every semester when finals roll around, I sigh and reach for my Foucault shelf, which is what I deserve for being a grad student studying mental illness and institutional power. But after a few years of cursing his name, I figured it was time to find out who this Foucault guy was, and if his life could shed any insight on his work.

In that regard, James Miller makes a heroic attempt to contextualize the events of Foucault's life with his scholarship. I say heroic, because Foucault was an evasive
Oct 06, 2008 Mr. rated it liked it
Despite the late philosopher's explicit request to not compose a biography of his life, James Miller has compiled a highly competent study of Foucault's life and thought. While not purporting to be a traditional biography, Miller frequently falls into the trap of imposing a cogent narrative onto the work of this great mind in a way that is not always convincing. We are provided with very fine material on Foucault's complex youth, as well as his various political engagements as an activist/academ ...more
Jun 21, 2012 Eric rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book about one of the greatest minds of all time: Michel Foucault. It provides wonderful biographical insight in line with coverage of his works and the links between the too. If Jacques Derrida can get a movie... the Michel Foucault should've already had 12 movies made about him. The Passion of Michel Foucault, would be the perfect book on which to base a Foucault movie.

This is a must read for any fan of Michel Foucault's work. Anyone who longs for the days of poststructura
May 05, 2012 BeeQuiet rated it it was amazing
Being a neophyte Foucault researcher, a Professor at my university recommended this book as a good frame for viewing the rest of his work. Context is always valuable, but I am starting to feel that for few is this more the case than for Foucault.

A lovingly crafted book, the passion with which Miller views the subject is immediately apparent, and the book certainly doesn't suffer for it in the same way that some academic books do. Whilst the author has taken a particular viewpoint of the life of
Mar 28, 2007 David rated it really liked it
I picked up this book last week wanting to supplement my reading of Logics of Disintegration. I'm glad I chose it. Although it's written for a general audience, the author effectively conveys the complexity of Foucault's philosophy (though I think that using this word in the singular is a bit misleading) and its implications. Actually, now that I've read the book, I feel that I have a much better picture of the whole of his thought. What was particularly interesting was the way that Miller focus ...more
Didi Chang-Park
Jun 20, 2015 Didi Chang-Park rated it really liked it
i'm not sure how i feel about the notion of a ~biography of foucault~. the narrative, even sensational aspect of this biography reflects the author's journalistic background. to what extent is this truthful? it sure was exciting to read though, and i feel like i learned a little bit more about foucault's philosophy, or at least a perspective on his philosophy. and goddamn, i really love hearing about foucault's sadomasochistic practices/gay leather subculture and LSD trip in death valley. and tr ...more
Feb 16, 2016 James rated it it was amazing
yep, more Foucault...
David Hallman
Jul 19, 2011 David Hallman rated it really liked it
Michel Foucault has played a significant role in my own life as a thinker, an activist, and as a gay man. He also appears as an important character in my forthcoming novel "Searching for Gilead" (available in the fall 2011)

His death in 1984 was a tragedy not only to the French intellectual world but to schools of philosophy and progressive political movements around the world.

James Miller's "Passion of Michel Foucault" explores both his prodigious thought as well as his tempestuous life and how
Jun 30, 2015 Xitsuka rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography-memoir
Fond memory. :)
Candy Wood
Reading a biography of Foucault seemed like a good way to find out about his ideas without wading through his (translated) prose, and this one does put his work in the context of his unconventional life. James Miller has incorporated material from personal interviews and unpublished manuscripts as well as from published works and other biographies, in the process providing insight into gay male culture in San Francisco and in Paris in the years leading up to and including the discovery of HIV an ...more
Philip Jenks
Aug 21, 2008 Philip Jenks rated it did not like it
one of the better arguments for regulating speech and publication can be found by reading this book. Still, there is some worth in reading the "scholarly" equivalent of Jerome Corsi. If you are really in the mood for a horribly assembled, porous argument, stitched with homophobic heteronormative Logic - sit right down and read it. Watch the Passion of Christ too. Good trifecta. Good boy
Nov 12, 2007 Tosh rated it really liked it
A very interesting study and biography on one of the great French Historians. Foucault's interest in a subject for instance medical care or prisons - and like a fine knife going through soft butter he digs out certain aspects of that culture and gives it a bit of light.
Sep 06, 2010 Yuliana is currently reading it
I've been reading this for years. I have started anew with a new vigor. It's always interesting to re-read anything you've read previously, as is the case with this illuminating and challenging study of Foucault's life and work.
Jul 31, 2012 David rated it it was ok

Dishonest! I'd never recommend this book as an introduction to Foucault's ideas! This book is more autobiography than biography!
Mar 14, 2007 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
How could you not like this book, if only for the story of Foucault dropping acid with two UCLA graduate students while at Zabriskie Point.
John Cox
Dec 09, 2007 John Cox marked it as to-read
I need to learn about Michel Foucault but haven't pushed myself to start the book.
Heather McCoy
Jul 31, 2008 Heather McCoy rated it did not like it
Really irresponsible, full of conjecture about Foucault's sex life. Avoid.
Dec 10, 2010 Udaiiiiiii marked it as to-read
What is up with this book? I don't know, but i'm going to find out.
May 26, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
if you went to art school you should read this.....
Jan 28, 2012 Julie added it
later maybe
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James Miller is a professor of politics and the chair of liberal studies at the New School for Social Research. He is the author of Examined Lives, The Passion of Michel Foucault, and Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock & Roll, 1947–1977, among other books. He liv
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“In a sense,’ Foucault concluded with a flourish, ‘all the rest of my life I’ve been trying to do intellectual things that would attract beautiful boys.” 4 likes
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