Review: Anarchism Revisited: A New Philosophy

Spivak, Gayatri C.

It is not often our privilege to write on writers recently treated by Newsweek, Playboy (francais), Der Spiegel, Time: Bernard-Henri Levy, Andre Glucksmann, Jean-Marie Benoist; and Maurice Clavel, Guy Lardreau, Christian Jambet, Philippe Nemo...

The critical response in the French academy has been one of derision. (There has been a good deal of favorable response, admirably recorded in Contre la nouvelle philosophie, especially in the rich footnotes. A bizarre taste of it may be had from Delivrance: face & face [Paris: Seuil, 1977], transcription of a series of television encounters between Maurice Clavel and Philippe Sollers.) The editor of La Quinzaine litteraire [no. 257, 1-15 June, 1977] felt obliged to apologize obliquely in introducing what seemed to have "turned out to be" a collection of positive reviews of some of the texts of the new philosophy. By contrast, the famous newsmagazines are enthusiastic. They mention that the new philosophers are young (actually, Clavel will not see fifty again); that they are handsome (actually, only Levy and Glucksmann are, perhaps Benoist as well; the others' photographs are never printed); that they are erudite (we would submit that they are schoolmen, and that their material seems erudite because academic philosophy, in whatever guise, hardly ever hits the bestseller lists); that they write out of disillusionment with the events of May 1968 in France, that they are the greatest thing to hit the French scene since Sartre, and that they champion the rights of the individual against any theory of collectivism or state control.

Whether these persons are indeed champions of the rights of the common man is a question we will examine in greater detail. Here suffice it to say that the references to sixty-eight and Sartre are supplied repeatedly by the new philosophers themselves. The discussion of the role of 1968 in the new philosophy in Aubral and Delcourt's book is most astute; but the discussion of the group's relationship to the French intellectual scene after Sartre (so to speak) is less good.


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English and Comparative Literature
Johns Hopkins University Press
Published Here
March 13, 2015