[OPE-L] Louis Althusser and the Traditions of French Marxism

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sat Nov 26 2005 - 09:53:39 EST


Notice of a new book. Posted on "Althusser" yahoo group by David
McInerney.
In solidarity, Jerry
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Louis Althusser and the Traditions of French Marxism
By  William Lewis, (Skidmore College)

$70.00
Cloth
0-7391-0983-9
Oct 2005
250pp

$24.95
Paper
0-7391-1307-0
Oct 2005
250pp

Throughout the course of the twentieth century communism has
enjoyed  direct competition with all other governmental and economic
systems.  Often, communist countries produced their own special brand of
party intellectual. These figures rightly occupied their place within
their own national context and within the context of the International.
Some  communist intellectuals, through the high level of erudition
exhibited in their writing, have received a wider reception, despite their
direct  linkage to party politics e.g. Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukacs, and,
 Victor Serge are good examples. After 1956, when Kruschev exposed
Stalin's atrocities to the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party
of  the Soviet Union and, as a result, to the entire world, Marxist
philosophy was widely discredited. It had been assumed that
Stalin's  excesses were somehow encouraged or supported through Marx's
thought.  When, in the mid 1960s, Louis Althusser first offered his re-
readings of Marx's philosophy it, and communist political practice, were
in  ruin. However Althusser was in a unique cultural and historical
position. Thinking and writing concomitant with the structuralists
and  poststructuralists in France and also having access to certain
theoretical tools while, simultaneously, committing himself entirely
to  Marxist thought-Althusser was, conceivably the last of his
tradition.  He was a Marxist philosopher who, unlike Sartre at the end of
his life,  did not abandon communism to, for instance existentialism. In
Louis  Althusser and the Traditions of French Marxism William Lewis gives
readers a striking example of intellectual biography and critical
theory. His approach, considering the work and life of Althusser
within  French Marxism and French intellectual culture, fills a void in
contemporary scholarship. But, much more importantly, Lewis is able
to  show how Althusser's thought is the result of and a response to
specific French intellectual and political traditions of reading
Marx.  It is through this combination of concerns that Louis Althusser and
the  Traditions of French Marxism offers us a contemporary and poignant
Althusser whose ideas, under the weight of Lewis's pen, can help us
better understand what resources it may hold for philosophy,
political  thought, and cultural thought today.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

              Why Marxism? Why French Marxism?

               The PCF and French Intellectual Marxism: Paternity
and Patterns

              The PCF 1920-1945, Theoretical and Pedagogical
Positions on Marx

               French Intellectual Marxism, 1920-1939

               The Approaching Crisis: French Marxist Thought,
1940-1956

               The Purification of Theory

        -       Theory for Practice


  "This is a challenging and timely book which not only argues for
the  continuing fecundity of the thought of Althusser, but places it in
a  French Marxist tradition that has often been too hastily dismissed.
Lewis's work is critical and concrete history of philosophy worthy
of  the object of study." Gavin Bowd, Lecturer in French, University
of St.  Andrews, Scotland

About the Author
William Lewis is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Skidmore
College.

-----------------------------------------------------------
Dr. David McInerney
borderlands e-journal
<www.borderlandsejournal.adelaide.edu.au>
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