The missing question from Foucault’s ‘Confession of the Flesh’ interview – a translation

While looking for something else, I discovered that the important 1977 interview ‘Le jeu de Michel Foucault’ (DE no 206, Vol II, pp. 298-329) is not completely translated as ‘The Confession of the Flesh’ in Power/Knowledge, edited by Colin Gordon (pp. 194-228). Gordon notes that “A few preliminary remarks are omitted from this translation” (p. xii). This incomplete state is not, unusually, noted in Richard Lynch’s detailed bibliography of English translations of Foucault’s shorter works. The opening remarks are interesting in at least two registers: they discuss the structure of the History of Sexuality; and include a brief reflection on the shift in writing style from the earlier books to this one. This is a rough translation of the opening exchange with Alain Grosrichard.

Shortly after the publication of The Will to Knowledge [History of Sexuality Volume I] we invited Michel Foucault to spend an evening with us. From a relaxed conversation, we provide some excerpts here. A.G.

A. Grosrichard: It is time to turn to this History of Sexuality of which we have the first volume, and which you have announced will comprise six.

M. Foucault: Yes, I would first like to say that I am very happy to be here with you. This is partly why I wrote this book in this form. Up until now, I wrapped things up – I spared no citation, no reference, and threw rather heavy cobblestones [et j’avais lancé des pavés un peu lourds], which remained for the most part unanswered. From this came the idea of the book programme, a sort of gruyère cheese, with holes which could be filled in. I did not want to say ‘this is what I think’, because I am still very unsure of what I put forward. But I would like to see if it could be said, and how far it could be said, and, of course, that risks being very disappointing for you. And that there are uncertainties in what I have written is certainly uncertain. There is no trick, no rhetoric. And I’m not certain either what I will write in the following volumes. That is why I wanted to hear the effect of this hypothetical discourse, in overview. It seems to me that this is the first time I have met people who want to play the game that I propose in my book.

A. Grosrichard: Certainly. [The published English translation continues from here].

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This entry was posted in Foucault's Last Decade, Michel Foucault. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The missing question from Foucault’s ‘Confession of the Flesh’ interview – a translation

  1. Pingback: Foucault’s Last Decade – seventh update | Progressive Geographies

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