18 July 2006

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. trans Robert Hurley. New York: Random House, 1978.

In volume one, Foucault states that his aim "is to examine the case of a society which has been loudly castigating itself for its hypocrisy for more than a century, which speaks verbosely of its own silence, takes great pains to relate in detail the things it does not say, denounces its power, and promises to liberate itself from the very laws that have made it function"(8). His subject is sex, and its relation to power; he links sexual repression to the rise of capitalism (and thus to the rise of the novel).

Volume one lays out his hypotheses (that sex was driven outside the realm of accepted discourse, thus becoming a much-discussed subject, and that 'perversion'--deviation from the marriage bed--became 'unnatural,' and thus fascinating) and a method for establishing free discourse on the subject.

The coincidence of a rising bourgeoisie repressing sexuality, however, immediately lends credence to the notion of a new value system for novels to represent.


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