November 29, 2008

The Novelist's Talent

Elif Batuman's rather delicious skewering (or shoveling, for those who've read it) of Elisabeth Roudinesco's "Philosophy In Turbulent Times: Canghuilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida" in a recent LRB does the near impossible by making me relish the thought of reading the book itself (a book I just know will send me into reveries of "how could they think that?!"). And all those incantatory titular names, so familiar from a world away, another century away (I mined the relatively-sane Canguilhem for ideas for an undergrad HPS paper a long long time ago, and Althusser was, for reasons that never made the slightest bit of sense, a bright star in the somewhat confused and distant philosophical firmament at Sydney)….

"Roudinesco has a novelist's talent for distilling the scattered nonsense of a certain sociohistorical milieu into pithy soundbites." Indeed. That novelist's sense (intentional or not) is just what's needed….

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