Stuart Elden on the last volume of Foucault’s History of Sexuality

As usual, he’s super quick with an excellent overview and reading of a new Foucault publication, Les aveux de la chair, which he reviews at Theory, Culture and SocietyHe’s right that the prose style is, put nicely, less polemical and more austere than the first volume (which is why the first volume is always taught over the second and third volumes). But it’s not dry reading in terms of what is taken up (virginity, etc.) but is close in style to Volume 3 (Volume 2, I think, makes extensive claims that I would critique, but surpasses 3 and 4 in terms of readability). Stuart notes:

With the publication of Les aveux de la chair we are entering a new period of Foucault’s posthumous reception. A new team of editors has been working on a number of volumes of lectures from the 1950s and 1960s, when Foucault taught in Lille, Clermont-Ferrand, Tunisia and Vincennes. These are likely to add much to our understanding of Foucault’s work in those decades, even if the documentary record is less complete – only some of his courses are preserved, and there are no recordings to supplement the written word. The Vrin series ‘Philosophie du present/Foucault inédit’, edited by Fruchaud and Daniele Lorenzini continues to present new material. It began with critical French editions of texts already available in various forms in English, but is now moving to lectures, courses and other materials which had not previously been published at all. These include Foucault’s lectures in Toronto, Dire vrai sur soi-même, and courses from Brazil, New York and elsewhere are in process. It is possible that La chair et le corps, and other material on sexuality from the mid-late 1970s, might be published in some form. A still earlier text, Foucault’s master’s thesis on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, long thought lost, has recently been discovered and is available to researchers in Paris. Now Les aveux de la chair has been published, it seems yet more texts might be edited for publication.