Preface
This book was published in France in 1999, but I began writing it in 1996 and
had been thinking about it since 1995. It was conceived at the intersection of
a number of di√erent theoretical and political preoccupations, and its devel-
opment is closely linked to the specific context of the mid-1990s in France.
First of all, this book is one of a series of works I have written on Michel
Foucault. The notable discrepancies between the French and American re-
ceptions of my biography of Foucault provided an initial impulse to think at
greater length about the links that existed between Foucault’s gay subjec-
tivity and his thought—from his formative years to his final projects. When
the biography appeared in France in
1989,∞
a number of Foucault’s disciples
(in a way that is all too familiar) took upon themselves the role of guardians
of the temple and protectors of the orthodox interpretation of the work. They
criticized me rather harshly for having tried to ‘‘explain Foucault’s work by
way of his homosexuality,’’ which, for them, somehow implied a betrayal or
a devaluation of that work. One of them even suggested that I should ‘‘go
take a flying leap [aller me rhabiller].’’ It was nearly impossible in France at
that moment to speak of a philosopher’s homosexuality. Sexuality was never
supposed to leave the private sphere, and to claim that a person’s homosex-
uality could be related to his or her work was viewed as an attack on the
integrity of that person’s thought itself.
Strangely enough, when this same book was translated into English two
years later, the American intellectual field was so di√erent from the French
one that people reproached me for not having perceived the important place
sexuality had, or that Foucault’s sexual politics had, in the elaboration of his
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