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Hallucinating Foucault

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,184 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Tracing a quest that begins in the halls of Cambridge University, descends to the forbidden spaces of an isolated asylum, and moves on to the sunbaked shores of the south of France, "Hallucinating Foucault" brings to life a love affair like no other. "The love between a writer and a reader is never celebrated, " Duncker writes. "It cannot be proven to exist. Yet we often t ...more
Hardcover, 175 pages
Published December 21st 1996 by Ecco (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul
Aug 18, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-novels
This book took me by surprise; I really wasn't expecting much of it, how wrong I was! It is a love story, well more than one love story actually. It is also based on, wound around the philosophy of Foucault, which is not always an easy read, but there is a simplicity and directness here and complex ideas are expressed beautifully simply. There are touches of Nietzsche, Freud and I think Sartre. In fact reading it took me back to when I was 19 and read Nausea; there was a similar feel; especially ...more
Rowena
Aug 18, 2013 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Rowena by: Linda H
Shelves: literary-fiction
“Even then, I saw the darkness I see now. But it was like a shadow in the corner of my eye, a sudden movement as a lizard vanishes behind the shutters. But in the last years I have felt the darkness, gaining ground, widening like a stain across the day. And I have watched the darkness coming with complete serenity. The door stands always open, to let the darkness in. Out of this knowledge too, I will make my writing. And I have nothing to fear.” - Patricia Duncker, Hallucinating Foucault

I loved
...more
Aubrey
4.5/5
But you musn't have romantic ideas about them. Murderers are ordinary people.
This is another book which, had I read it a mere two to four years earlier, I would have unequivocally adored. As the Foucault of the Hallucinating Foucault intimidated me too much to pick it up till now, my less than loving rating stands. I do not regret it, as there is no guarantee that an earlier reading would have resulted in as great an understanding. While it's true that I still have no real experience with
...more
Stephen P
Dec 03, 2013 Stephen P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The captivating title ladles servings of disappointment and hope in uneven swathes. A philosophical fiction, a novel of academia, a book on the creative mind, story of a writer. Any one of these would prove necessary for me to read immediately. It was a book of all of these but first it was a, novel. Its parts sprung from the story, shoots and growth. At times a 2 star rating at times touching a spiraling 5.
I saw where it meant to arrive. Then, in advance I placed my money down on the table wi
...more
Zanna
Jul 29, 2015 Zanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zanna by: Rowena
Shelves: 500mab
I wish I had read Foucault! I am sure that I would have got more out of this rich, pungent morsel of a book if I understood more about the inspiration. I feel sure that master of mindfulness Jean Michel is a Foucauldian hero, living at risk, fiercly political, passionate yet detached to the point of psychopathy, producing classical, harmonious, mysteriously civilized art. And that the nameless Germanist writing love-letters to Schiller is a Foucauldian feminist. But I am jumping to conclusions i ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
I am a straight guy, and this is a gay love story. Towards the end, however, I felt like I'm tearing up, Nicholas-Sparksed, and ready to vote this dialogue as the greatest one in a gay love-themed novel of all time:

"If you love someone--you know where they are and what has happened to them. And you put yourself at risk to save them if you can. If you get into trouble, I promise that I'll come to save you."

It was uttered by a girl to a gay author who thought she was a boy, then fast forward many
...more
Nick Wellings
Sep 20, 2013 Nick Wellings rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well drawn, perfectly paced novel. I am reminded of Gidé's "Fruits of the Earth". (I am sure Drucker meant to refer to this.)

Characters and event are believable, though I am still not sure why this is a criterion of quality for me, even when it comes to more outrageous or 'modernist' writing, eg, Gravity's Rainbow, Ulysses. (Who in the first can truly believe that a titanic adenoid might menace a city, and in the latter that Polyphemus is once more slain -albeit symbolically - in early t
...more
Bethan
An academic's fantasy (academic types may be more likely to like this while I don't like academia); about relationships between authors and readers. The main author in question is the gay writer Paul Michel, who is now mad with schizophrenia. A reader who is working on a thesis about his books goes to 'rescue' him from his asylum in France, partly prompted by his girlfriend. He and the intense Paul Michel develop a friendship and relationship. The Foucault the title references is based on the fa ...more
Caterina
Sep 09, 2015 Caterina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this more than 15 years ago when I borrowed it from the British Council Library in Athens. I finished it literally in one seating on my way home by bus! Can't remember much apart from the university campus background and the hint of a great love story, but I would recommend it to anyone looking for a short and lovely book.
Robert
Jun 20, 2016 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first encounter with this book actually happened in 2009 when I read in the local newspaper that Patricia Duncker was coming over to Malta in order to give a talk on writing and preview some of her upcoming works. Being a sucker for such things, I ordered the book and it arrived on the day of the talk. I did attend and enjoyed it, plus I got to chat to her a bit (she’s very talkative), got my copy of the book signed and it went back in the shelf for that right time.


An unnamed research student
...more
Joao
Que acontece quando um autor admira tanto um dos seus leitores que se apaixona por ele e passa a escrever apenas por causa dele e para ele? Que acontece a esse autor quando o seu leitor morre antes de tempo deixando-o à beira da loucura? E quando um jovem académico estudioso da obra do autor sem leitor que entretanto desapareceu e pode ter morrido se enamora de uma colega germanista que o incita misteriosamente a procurar o desaparecido? O encontro será explosivo e irá despertar sentimentos tumu ...more
Hermione Laake
Apr 16, 2013 Hermione Laake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patricia Duncker gave a talk at the Hampshire Writers' Society recently. She was extremely good and came to it from a literary angle. So often authors' talks are bogged down with the mundane, and I know life can be mundane sometimes, but we go to these talks hoping for inspiration. I got that at the talk. The book did inspire me to write another, and that really gives me a kick when I get that feeling rushing over me; like when I read Mrs Dalloway and thought wow you can really write like that? ...more
Wendell
Nov 13, 2011 Wendell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a magnificent little book that may put one in mind of Byatt's *Possession.* Tightly plotted, HF is a marvelous piece of evidence for the proposition that (a) it's still possible to create unforgettable characters and to use them to drive a plot; and (b) that there's still room for literary fiction that isn't postmodernistically compromised, jargon-filled, reader-unfriendly, or simply precious/pretentious. There's a great story here that's chock full of Duncker's own reflections on art, h ...more
Erica
Jan 15, 2012 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely little novel and quick read, especially if you're jonesing for reminiscing about Foucault and your own grad school experience. A nifty little plot and brisk writing, loved how very non-American it was but that the dissertation writing experience can feel the same across cultures. It has made me inspired to go back and make sure I've read everything possible of Foucault. Also happy to get glimpses of France here, as we'll be there this summer. I'll be hallucinating my own Foucault for su ...more
Robert Wechsler
This novel is in many ways similar to J. J. Abrams’ S (Duncker’s book came first). Both involve a literary young man and woman who bond around an author they are obsessed with, and the obsession turns into a quest. Both involve conspiracies of sorts. Both novels are focused on the role of the author in the literature he writes.

The styles of the novels could not be more different. However, whereas Abrams’ approach somewhat fits the baroque character of the author’s writing, Duncker’s novel stands
...more
Tina
I love a good May-December romance and this one was lovely. A novel about awakening, loss, futility and the compelling nature of language and literature.

Duncker has beautiful prose and the novel is rife with sentences like this: "...the stoic indifference of an accepted destiny", but she was able to simple pepper the novel perfectly with pithy phrases without making it overbearing and obtuse.

The back of my copy says the novel is "sensually overpowering and intellectually provocative", which I f
...more
Elsje
Oct 20, 2011 Elsje rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2003
Wat een werkelijk fantastisch boek!! Het gaf me een warm gevoel, ondanks het voor mij al heel snel duidelijke gebruik (misbruik?) van de student door de Germaniste, want Duncker schrijft al op p. 19: 'She was never affectionate. She never used any terms of endearment, never told me that she loved me, and never held my hand. When she took me to bed she kissed me as if there was some distance to be covered and she was intent on getting there without interference.'

Ik beperk mij nu verder tot het ko
...more
ej
Jun 09, 2008 ej rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book last semester while working on a research project about Michel Foucault's heterotopia theory, the installation/sculptural art of Louise Bourgeois,and the union of Foucault and feminist theory as it relates to Bourgeois' work. Duncker does a wonderful job of summing up Foucault's philosophies, while maintaining control over the nameless main character's voice. She even manages to pull in the falling away from Sartre, who once said, "Nous sommes que nous ne sommes pas." We are wh ...more
Hakan İlker
Nov 01, 2015 Hakan İlker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kitap isimlerine pek takılmayan okuyuculardan birisiyimdir. Ama ilk defa bir ismi bir kitaba yakıştıramadım. Önerim yok açıkçası fakat içerik açısından pek uymadığını düşünüyorum. Çok güzeldi ama be. Çok etkilendim. Duygulandım.
Aslı Tohumcu
Jan 25, 2016 Aslı Tohumcu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
yazma uğraşı üzerine, tek okur için yazmak kavramı üzerin okuduğum en romantik roman... enfesti... hala kendime gelemedim...
Debra
Jan 24, 2015 Debra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, fiction
An intelligent and passionate inquiry into the relationship between the reader and the writer. On a superficial level this could easily be perceived as a rational mutually beneficial relationship. As this narrative demonstrates, it has the potential for obsession and self-destruction. Highly recommended.
Becky
Jun 09, 2013 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A real quickie this one. A student at Cambridge is writing a thesis on a troubled French writer. He falls for a passionate but strange woman who sends him on a voyage of discovery to France, where he finds his writer in an asylum, and they slowly develop a relationship which starts to mirror the charismatic author's earlier experiences. The ending was a little OTT for me, but I enjoyed it a lot until the final 30 pages or so.

Also, literature continues to suggest that English PhDs are way more fu
...more
Džonas Kryžanauskis
I got this book from an old friend who is a writer and we've been in contact for the past 8 years. He basically was my mentor and a friend though we only communicated in letters. I have seen him only recently and we talked in real life. It might be a story about us without the sexual part because I always suspected him to be queer but he never admitted it to me. Knowing how similar the story was in the book, I think it's a really good attempt by author to portray a deep connection between the wr ...more
Sergiu Pobereznic
Mar 31, 2015 Sergiu Pobereznic rated it really liked it
amazon.com/author/sergiupobereznic
A brilliant little debut novel.
A graduate student at Cambridge (the anonymous narrator) is doing a dissertation on the fictitious writer Paul Michel and his relationship to the renown philosopher Foucault. In the course of the dissertation he travels to France in an attempt to try and locate Michel, who had suddenly stopped writing and disappeared (Michel had been institutionalized for insanity). Michel had had a lifelong obsession with Foucault. And now the doc
...more
Renee Leech
This is my second time reading this book. The first time I was completely enthralled with it from beginning to end. This second time, I see it more critically. The main character is a graduate student at Cambridge who is studying the work of an institutionalized-for-good-reason French author named Paul Michel. The book begins with the main character's encounter with "The Germanist" - another graduate student and what the reader can assume is the author's ideal manic pixie dream androgyne. Though ...more
Mindy McAdams
Jul 18, 2015 Mindy McAdams rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: by-women
Not awful. A short novel with far less philosophy in it than I expected. Numerous blurbs on front and back covers and first pages raised my expectations far too high. I knew it would be a love story; I did not expect it to be so trite, so "first love"-ish. Too many things, including people, glitter and glimmer. The young British researcher falls in love with the much older, very famous novelist. I don't want to write any spoilers -- but it's easy to see all the things coming.

This probably would
...more
Cheryl
the love between the writer and his reader is never celebrated, but it has proven to exist within the pages of the novel, Hallucinating Foucault by Patricia Duncker.

the novel is beautifully and intricately written. and terribly haunting and disturbing indeed. there's a surprising twist at the end of the story that leaves every questions answered. everyone writes for a purpose and the purpose lies in its readers.

when paul michel writes, he writes for his beloved reader micheal foucault, writing a
...more
Sarah
Jun 30, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I found this absorbing. The turns of phrase are lovely. The narrative is tight, chiseled to a fine point. Maybe too much so! But I don't know much about Foucault, so perhaps that's the dimension I was missing.
And the narrator is a bit of a nonentity, so I never quite got into his skin.

I'm impressed. Not in love. But I can see why some people love this book.
I do think Duncker accomplished what she set out to do.
Daný
Jul 26, 2015 Daný rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book by Patricia Duncker that I read and this is definitely the one that has impressed me most (the others were James Miranda Barry and Sophie and the Sibyl: A Victorian Romance). I found it very well-written, both with regard to its use of language and the construction of the narrative/plot. The book is divided in four parts 'Cambridge', 'Paris', 'Clermont' and 'The Midi'. Cambridge and Paris were both at times confusing, making me unsure where the story was headed, but upon s ...more
Michael Meeuwis
This short novel left me feeling as though I had missed something--so, in that sense, this feels related to French theory. The early description of a relationship between grad students brought back some of the horrors of graduate school: the attempts of all involved to seem noncommittally brilliant, the sudden vertiginous class difference moments, and--frankly--the tediousness of much of it. The later description of meeting with Paul Michel, an invented author and interlocutor of the real Michel ...more
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Patricia Duncker attended school in England and, after a period spent working in Germany, she read English at Newnham College, Cambridge.

She studied for a D.Phil. in English and German Romanticism at St Hugh's College, Oxford.

From 1993-2002, she taught Literature at the University of Aberystwyth, and from 2002-2006, has been Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, teachin
...more
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“The love between a writer and a reader is never celebrated.” 84 likes
“All writers are, somewhere or other, mad. Not les grands fous, like Rimbaud, but mad, yes, mad. Because we do not believe in the stability of reality. We know that it can fragment, like a sheet of glass or a car's windscreen. but we also know that reality can be invented, reordered, constructed, remade. Writing is, in itself, an act of violence perpetrated against reality.” 9 likes
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