ISBN-10:
0691154341
ISBN-13:
9780691154343
Pub. Date:
03/25/2012
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution, and the Legacy of the 1960s

The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution, and the Legacy of the 1960s

by Richard WolinRichard Wolin

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Overview

How Maoism captured the imagination of French intellectuals during the 1960s

Michel Foucault, Jean-Paul Sartre, Julia Kristeva, Phillipe Sollers, and Jean-Luc Godard. During the 1960s, a who's who of French thinkers, writers, and artists, spurred by China's Cultural Revolution, were seized with a fascination for Maoism. Combining a merciless exposé of left-wing political folly and cross-cultural misunderstanding with a spirited defense of the 1960s, The Wind from the East tells the colorful story of this legendary period in France. Richard Wolin shows how French students and intellectuals, inspired by their perceptions of the Cultural Revolution, and motivated by utopian hopes, incited grassroots social movements and reinvigorated French civic and cultural life.

Wolin's riveting narrative reveals that Maoism's allure among France's best and brightest actually had little to do with a real understanding of Chinese politics. Instead, it paradoxically served as a vehicle for an emancipatory transformation of French society. French student leftists took up the trope of "cultural revolution," applying it to their criticisms of everyday life. Wolin examines how Maoism captured the imaginations of France's leading cultural figures, influencing Sartre's "perfect Maoist moment"; Foucault's conception of power; Sollers's chic, leftist intellectual journal Tel Quel; as well as Kristeva's book on Chinese women--which included a vigorous defense of foot-binding.

Recounting the cultural and political odyssey of French students and intellectuals in the 1960s, The Wind from the East illustrates how the Maoist phenomenon unexpectedly sparked a democratic political sea change in France.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691154343
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 03/25/2012
Pages: 408
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Richard Wolin is Distinguished Professor of History, Comparative Literature, and Political Science at the City University of New York Graduate Center. His books, which include Heidegger's Children and The Seduction of Unreason (both Princeton), have been translated into ten languages. His articles and reviews have appeared in Dissent, the Nation, and the New Republic.

Table of Contents

Prologue ix

Introduction: The Maoist Temptation 1

Part I: The Hour of Rebellion

Chapter 1: Showdown at Bruay-en-Artois 25

Chapter 2: France during the 1960s 39

Chapter 3: May 1968: The Triumph of Libidinal Politics 70

Chapter 4: Who Were the Maoists? 109

Excursus: On the Sectarian Maoism of Alain Badiou 155

Part II: The Hour of the Intellectuals

Chapter 5: Jean-Paul Sartre's Perfect Maoist Moment 179

Chapter 6: Tel Quel in Cultural-Political Hell 233

Chapter 7: Foucault and the Maoists: Biopolitics and

Engagement 288

Chapter 8: The Impossible Heritage: From Cultural Revolution to Associational Democracy 350

Bibliography 371

Index 385

What People are Saying About This

Michael Walzer

Richard Wolin has written a fascinating account of the French Left's Maoist moment, which pays all due attention to its follies and fantasies, but also manages to capture and to value its liberating effects.
Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study

Tony Judt

Most accounts of 1968 in Paris are either bathed in nostalgia or marinated in disappointment. We are thus all in Richard Wolin's debt for his careful and dispassionate account of those years. The Wind from the East is by far the best history I have read in any language of the Maoist moment in France. Sympathetic without being apologetic, Wolin is particularly deft at evaluating the heritage of France's controversial cultural revolution for contemporary politics. No one interested in the upheavals of the sixties should miss this book.
Tony Judt, author of "Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945"

Warren Breckman

A lively and engaged history, sure to provoke debate.
Warren Breckman, University of Pennsylvania

From the Publisher

"Most accounts of 1968 in Paris are either bathed in nostalgia or marinated in disappointment. We are thus all in Richard Wolin's debt for his careful and dispassionate account of those years. The Wind from the East is by far the best history I have read in any language of the Maoist moment in France. Sympathetic without being apologetic, Wolin is particularly deft at evaluating the heritage of France's controversial cultural revolution for contemporary politics. No one interested in the upheavals of the sixties should miss this book."—Tony Judt, author of Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945

"Richard Wolin has written a fascinating account of the French Left's Maoist moment, which pays all due attention to its follies and fantasies, but also manages to capture and to value its liberating effects."—Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study

"The imperative to unify theory and practice has often led intellectuals down garden paths, perhaps none as hazardous as the one followed in the l960s by the French thinkers who embraced Mao's Cultural Revolution from afar. With understanding for their motivations, exasperation for their self-delusions, and appreciation for the unintended consequences of their actions, Richard Wolin recounts with sympathetic irony the follies and glories of intellectual commitment at its most extreme."—Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley

"A lively and engaged history, sure to provoke debate."—Warren Breckman, University of Pennsylvania

Martin Jay

The imperative to unify theory and practice has often led intellectuals down garden paths, perhaps none as hazardous as the one followed in the l960s by the French thinkers who embraced Mao's Cultural Revolution from afar. With understanding for their motivations, exasperation for their self-delusions, and appreciation for the unintended consequences of their actions, Richard Wolin recounts with sympathetic irony the follies and glories of intellectual commitment at its most extreme.
Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley

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