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Rescued by Marat

Hilary Mantel, 28 May 1992

Théroigne de Méricourt: A Melancholic Woman during the French Revolution 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by Martin Thom.
Verso, 284 pp., £34.95, July 1991, 0 86091 324 4
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Women and the Limits of Citizenship in the French Revolution 
by Olwen Hufton.
Toronto, 201 pp., £23, May 1992, 0 8020 6837 5
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... the social scale, spending a year as a cowherd. After this, she secured a post as a governess, Elisabeth Roudinesco claims – though she goes on to tell us that at this stage Théroigne had not learned to write. More likely, as her 1911 biographer Frank Hamel says, she earned her living as a seamstress. But then in 1778, when she was about ...

From Shtetl to Boulevard

Paul Keegan: Freud’s Mother, 5 October 2017

Freud: In His Time and Ours 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by Catherine Porter.
Harvard, 580 pp., £27.95, November 2016, 978 0 674 65956 8
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Freud: An Intellectual Biography 
by Joel Whitebook.
Cambridge, 484 pp., £30, February 2017, 978 0 521 86418 3
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... and inappropriate,’ Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen and Sonu Shamdasani wrote in The Freud Files (2006). Elisabeth Roudinesco, on the front line of the Freud wars, is more preoccupied with vulgar details than Whitebook is in his ‘intellectual biography’. She has an eye for the stubborn fact, she rates gossip as a form of knowledge, and her book is ...

On Complaining

Elif Batuman: How to Stay Sane, 20 November 2008

Philosophy in Turbulent Times: Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by William McCuaig.
Columbia, 184 pp., £15.50, November 2008, 978 0 231 14300 4
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... We are certainly living in strange times’ is how Elisabeth Roudinesco’s Philosophy in Turbulent Times begins. Roudinesco’s reader, too, is in for a turbulent and strange time, starting with the introduction, a five-page polemic against the spirit of our age: Jean-Paul Sartre – for or against? Raymond Aron – for or against? … Should we take a blowtorch to May 1968 and its ideas … seen now as incomprehensible, elitist, dangerous and anti-democratic? Have the protagonists of that revolution … all become little bourgeois capitalist pleasure seekers without faith or principles, or haven’t they? … The father has vanished, but why not the mother? Isn’t the mother really just a father, in the end, and the father a mother? Why do young people not think anything? Why are children so unbearable? Is it because of television, or pornography, or comic books? … And women: are they capable of supervising male workers on the same basis as men are? Of thinking like men, of being philosophers? Do they have the same brain, the same neurons, the same emotions, the same criminal instincts? Was Christ the lover of Mary Magdalene, and if so, does that mean that the Christian religion is sexually split between a hidden feminine pole and a dominant masculine one?    Has France become decadent? Are you for Spinoza, Darwin, Galileo, or against? Are you partial to the United States? Wasn’t Heidegger a Nazi? Was Michel Foucault the precursor of Bin Laden, [and] Gilles Deleuze a drug addict … ? Was Napoleon really so different from Hitler? Do these questions strike you as ‘the absolute nadir of contemporary interrogation’? Do they articulate your sense of the ills of the present cultural moment? Do you want to hear more of them? Would you like to have a long conversation with someone who feels the same way? If so, you will enjoy the latest English translation of a book by Roudinesco, the author of Lacan & Co, Why Psychoanalysis? and, most recently, La Part obscure de nous-mêmes (not yet translated ...


Sherry Turkle: Lacan and Co, 6 December 1990

Jacques Lacan and Co: A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925-1985 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by Jeffrey Mehlman.
Free Association, 816 pp., £25, December 1990, 9781853431630
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... but socially isolated, grew into a more deeply and broadly rooted French psychoanalytic culture. Elisabeth Roudinesco’s Lacan and Co, the second volume of her two-volume history of French psychoanalysis, traces the development of the French psychoanalytic movement from 1925 to 1985, with Lacan as its main protagonist. In French analytic ...

The paper is white

Daniel Soar: Elif Batuman at College, 14 December 2017

The Idiot 
by Elif Batuman.
Cape, 425 pp., £16.99, June 2017, 978 1 910702 69 7
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... in its irreverence. Between 2008 and 2010 she also wrote some great things for the LRB: about Elisabeth Roudinesco on Sartre, Deleuze, Foucault et al; about the development of superhero comics; and about Mark McGurl’s The Program Era, a ‘study of Planet MFA conducted from Planet PhD’. In that piece – it was called ‘Get a Real ...

Not in the Mood

Adam Shatz: Derrida’s Secrets, 22 November 2012

Derrida: A Biography 
by Benoît Peeters, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 629 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 0 7456 5615 1
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... and he was relieved to return to his old school after the Allies landed. In an interview with Elisabeth Roudinesco many years later, Derrida said that, though ‘deeply wounded by anti-semitism’ – a wound that ‘has never completely healed’ – he was too beset by ‘malaise’ to enjoy ‘any kind of membership in a group’. Yet Peeters ...

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