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Hallucinating Foucault

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  989 ratings  ·  71 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
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
Stephen P
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
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
Rowena
Aug 18, 2013 Rowena rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Zanna
Jun 07, 2014 Zanna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zanna by: Rowena
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
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
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
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
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
Wendell
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
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
Elsje
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
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
Debra
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.
Sergiu Pobereznic
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
Erica
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
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
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.
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
Irwan
I think this story is well-crafted. A romance in the academic setting with parallelism that is connected to the figure of Michel Foucault. Not (yet?) a Foucault reader, I would suppose the ideas presented in this novel are inspired by the philosopher. I love the little girl, who met the mad author when she was a child, and the later became a "Germanist" and dated the man who would fall in love with the mad author. The premise is the romanticized reader-author relationship. Despite the fact that ...more
Eve Kay
The best of Duncker.

None of her later works have come close.
I can't remember how I came accross Hallucinating Foucault but it really got me by the throat when I first read it. It haunted me for days after and I got desperate to find other books like it. I wanted to keep the feeling alive as long as I could.
I lost my copy of Foucault at some point and in my despair got another copy. So read it again. This time with thought and consentration. It is evident that Duncker has really researched her w
...more
Emily
Interesting. Different than most things I read. Involved and intricate; loved the relationship developments.
Georg
Hallucinating Foucault

My first significant off-line experience so far. I read this book on vacation without access to the Internet and only now do I know how much I need Google and Wikipedia while reading. I know that there was a French writer/philosopher with the name Michel Foucault, but I don’t know much about his work and if there is a real writer called Paul Michel. Maybe this knowledge is not necessary to understand this novel, but I still find myself sillier than usual. (As I have no LEO-
...more
M M
In my varied reading of historical fiction, I have seen one particular theme that is almost stereotypical for the genre. There are two stories running in parallel, one in the past and the other in the present, with some dark deed in the former obsessing a character (usually the narrator) in the latter. Sometimes the parallel strands are set sufficiently far apart that the effects are transmitted indirectly (A. S. Byatt's Obsession, mayhaps?) or by some clandestine agency with domination in mind ...more
Leila
Halucinirajući Foucaulta je briljantna knjiga. Mislim da je prošlo već neko vrijeme a da me knjiga nije stvarno "uzdrmala" ili uznemirila
Ideja je savršena; ondos između pisca i čitatelja, jedan pogled na temu "Šta znači biti pisac?", otkriće da neki pisac stvara svoja djela iz najnevjerovatnijih razloga.
Stil se apsolutno uklopio u čitavu priču.
Ipak, moram priznati da su mi određeni dijelovi bili odbojni i da ponekad nisam imala želju da nastavim čitati dalje. Bilo mi je neugodno čitati. Razumije
...more
Sidewalk_Sotol
It's difficult to compare this book to other works of fiction I'm familiar with. Patricia Duncker has written a short novel that is essentially about the particular, private, uncelebrated relationships between writers and readers before the age of the Internet. Her nameless narrator, a graduate student at Cambridge, finds himself propelled by love of another, quixotic graduate student on a journey to discover the fate of a militant French gay novelist locked in an asylum, the same novelist that ...more
Michael
Es un libro locura, de amor, de homosexualidad. Pense por un momento que la autora estaba tratando de lograr que los lectores empatizaran con amores homosexuales y la sospecha de que se me estaba vendiendo eso en medio de la literatura me fastidio un poco.

La oportunidad de dar mas profundidad a los personajes y a las relaciones entre los personajes se pierde, desde mi perspectiva, por el interes que me parecio tenia la autora en presentar una vision favorable del amor gay. De esta forma, el aut
...more
Andreas
Die Liebesgeschichte in diesem Buch ist schon reizvoll und hat Feuer: Ein kreuzbraver englischer Student reist auf Weisung seiner Freundin nach Frankreich, um den seit Langem aus der Öffentlichkeit verschwundenen Schriftsteller zu suchen, über den sie ihre Doktorarbeit schreibt. Er spürt den irren Egozentriker in einer Anstalt auf, erliegt seinem Charisma, und sie brennen gemeinsam durch. Das wäre alles gut und schön, liest sich über weite Strecken spannend, und die Botschaft, dass sich das Lebe ...more
Jennifer Goodwin
It's set in Cambridge, my old home town so enjoyed revisiting my old haunts via the written word!
A very weird but brilliantly written first novel. It centers around the narrator's quest to search for and rescue the subject of his doctoral thesis who is hidden away in a mental institution in France. Beautiful prose together with a gripping tale makes for a quick 181 page read.
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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
More about Patricia Duncker...
The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge: A Novel The Deadly Space Between: A Novel The Doctor: A Novel Miss Webster And Chérif Seven Tales of Sex and Death

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“The love between a writer and a reader is never celebrated.” 81 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.” 6 likes
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