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July 2017: Award Winners > Hallucinating Foucault - Patricia Duncker - 3.5 stars

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message 1: by Kristel (last edited Jul 04, 2017 05:47PM) (new)

Kristel (Kristelh) | 670 comments Hallucinating Foucault by Patricia Duncker published in 1996 was her debut novel. It is the story of a postgraduate students quest from Cambridge to psychiatric hospital to the shores of southern France to rescue the author of his thesis. It is the story of the love between the writer and the reader.

The author of the book is called Paul Michel which happens to be the name of Michel Foucault. Paul-Michel Foucault is a famous French philosopher whose thories address power and knowledge. Foucault died in 1984 of complications of HIV/AIDs. The writer Paul Michel quit writing after the death of his "reader" Michel Foucault.

The book was published in 1996 and addressed issues of homosexuality, madness, and touched on AIDS/HIV. The originality is the part about addressing the love affair between writer and reader but this is not a new thought. It has been covered in other books like If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. The plot was mostly connected but the connecting of Paul Michel and Michel Foucault, the Germanist, the doctor, etc was all a little loose. The characters wer mostly well developed, the setting and scenes were descriptive with a lot of comments about smells especially of the asylum smelling of urine and excrement. It was readable. A short book and I finished it in a couple of days of reading. It won a price in England and it is on the 1001 Books list. The book addressed issues of homosexuality such as a choice or born that way. The prose was mostly good with some foul language and sexual content. Sexual content is not overly descriptive but it is present.

Favorite quotes,
"Fiction...was beautifully, unauthentic and useless, a profoundly unnatural art, designed purely for pleasure. He described the writing of fiction, telling stories, telling lies, as a strange obsesssion, a compulsive habit. He saw his own homosexuality in similar terms; as a quality that was at once beautiful, useless, the potentially perfect pleasure.

Pg 28, he was opposed to "the born" and was in the "choose to be camp" (paraphrased.

"Because we do not believe in the stability of reality, we know it can fragment, like a sheet of glass or a car windscreen. But we also know that reality can be invented, reordered, constructed, remade. Writing is, in itself, an act of violence perpetrated against reality." Pg 120.

"Madness and passion have always been interchangeable."

This won two rather obscure awards
McKitterick Prize (1997)
Dillons First Fiction Award (1997)


message 2: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 4755 comments I finally got my copy yesterday so hope to start this one soon.

Did you think it was prize worthy? 1001 list worthy? It looks like a fast read so looking forward to trying it out.


message 3: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1586 comments I'm having a hard time finding this one. Waiting for my library


message 4: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (Kristelh) | 670 comments Anita wrote: "I finally got my copy yesterday so hope to start this one soon.

Did you think it was prize worthy? 1001 list worthy? It looks like a fast read so looking forward to trying it out."


I gave it 3.57 rating using my new rubric. I think that would mean it probably doesn't but will be interested in what you think. I sometimes am off to the right of everyone.


message 5: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 4755 comments Kristel wrote: "Anita wrote: "I finally got my copy yesterday so hope to start this one soon.

Did you think it was prize worthy? 1001 list worthy? It looks like a fast read so looking forward to trying it out."

..."


I have to agree that this book wouldn't be for everyone, but I definitely thought it was 1001 worthy . . .thought the voice was fresh, the characters interesting, and in the end, she did manage to grab me with the plot too. I felt it was written very purposefully, and I admired that aspect . . .


message 6: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (Kristelh) | 670 comments I enjoyed your comments, Anita, it helped me appreciate the book more. And even if gender writing (awards going back to 1971). I believe this work did add to that aspect of literature and was prize worthy and I think it is sad that it did not win any recognition because it is better writing that some that have won.


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