Daniel Defert | Who Wrote Foucault's Library?

Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 5:15pm to 6:15pm

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Mezzanine
121 Wall St.
New Haven, CT 06511

Daniel Defert on the Michel Foucault Library of Presentation Copies.

Daniel Defert is the founding president of the first AIDS awareness organization in France, AIDES, which he started after the death of his partner, the philosopher Michel Foucault.

Beinecke welcomes Defert for a talk to celebrate Yale's acquisition of the Michel Foucault Library of Presentation Copies. Given to Defert at Foucault's untimely death in 1984, the library's 1,450 volumes bear personal inscriptions from the authors, that convey the ripples and eddies left behind in the intellectual and cultural currents by one of the most powerful minds of the twentieth century.

Published as 'Madness and Unreason' in 1961, Foucault's controversial history of the asylum did much to inspire figures like Laing and Cooper, but it was also very much a product of the "return to Freud." In fact, Foucault stood astride -- or rather immersed -- both currents in the rising storm of the sixties.

The depth of Foucault's engagement can be read from the thousands of personal dedications from writers, artists, scholars, militants, and analysts found in the Michel Foucault Library of Presentation Copies, acquired by the Beinecke Library in the fall of 2010.

Among the most poignant -- and certainly the most colorful -- is the dedication from Gilles Deleuze, his wife Fanny, and their two children in Anti-OEdipe [Anti-OEdipus], Deleuze and Felix Guattari's blazing manifesto against capitalism, the family, and psychoanalysis. "No, OEdipus doesn't exist," Deleuze jokes, drawing an arrow across the page to an ensemble of his children's artwork, resembling for all the world a decapitated father figure drenched in blood.

The painted dedication by Deleuze's children is part of the current exhibition at the Beinecke, "By Hand."

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