Hallucinating Foucault- Patricia Duncker

“Even then, I saw the darkness I see now. But it was like a shadow in the corner of my eye, a sudden movement as a lizard vanishes behind the shutters. But in the last years I have felt the darkness, gaining ground, widening like a stain across the day. And I have watched the darkness coming with complete serenity. The door stands always open, to let the darkness in. Out of this knowledge too, I will make my writing. And I have nothing to fear.” – Patricia Duncker, Hallucinating Foucault

I loved Hallucinating Foucault. I love the title, the content, the language, everything about it. I really enjoy novels that are enriched with literary and classic references. This one also had a lot of mystery so it made my reading experience even more enjoyable.

The book tells the story of a young, unnamed English student doing his dissertation on the novels of an enigmatic gay French novelist, Paul Michel. Michel is a strange man who controversially believes that people choose their sexuality. He revels in being unconventional. Michel is obsessed with Foucault, who he stated as his only influence.

There are rumours that Michel has become mad and has been locked up in a French mental asylum. Pushed by his girlfriend, the Germanist, (who is herself very enigmatic and strange) the student takes off to France to look for the novelist.

The writing in this book is beautiful and thoughtful. The book raises interesting questions about the relationship between authors and readers. As Michel says, “The love between a writer and a reader is never celebrated.”

Paul Michel isn’t even a real writer but I caught myself thinking how I’d love to read his books had he been real. He really came alive for me.

A great book that I would recommend to anyone!


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