Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason
Sharp first edition of the French philosopher's first book to appear in English translation: an abridged version of his 1961 doctoral thesis, which tracks the shifting conceptions of madness and reason from the Renaissance to the Modern Age. Informed by Foucault's own struggles with mental health, as well as the time he spent working in a psychiatric hospital in the 1950s, the book is widely seen as an attack on the medicalization of madness as mental illness. Rather than an inevitable humanist victory, Foucault reads that position as a mode of bourgeois social control, one supported by a selective historical narrative. Madness and Civilization seeks to upend that narrative by highlighting crucial discontinuities in the history of madness. Though Foucault himself falls prey to over-selectivity at times in his presentation of facts, his landmark work remains one of the most important texts in the post-structuralist history of ideas.
NY: Pantheon Books, 1965. Translated from the French by Richard Howard, using at its source the version of the text abridged by Foucault in 1964 and published in the Plon 10/18 series, but with the addition of material selected by Foucault from the original edition, including the chapter "Passion and Delirium." With an introduction by Dr. José Barchilon.
Octavo (6 x 8.5 in.); xiii, 299pp., with notes at rear; red cloth boards; gold spine lettering and brown design stamped on front board; in dust jacket. Light sunning to cloth at head of spine; former owners' names inked (twice) on front pastedown. Else a fine copy: sharp, square, and unmarked. In a near fine jacket showing mild toning and a touch of wear at spine ends, and a faint dampstain along spine of rear panel. Original "$5.95" price still present on front flap.