History of Sexuality volume II – detailed discussion of the three different introductions

HS II 3 introsOn a page on this site I discuss in detail the three versions of the introduction to the History of Sexuality volume II.

  1. The May 1984 version, which introduced the book itself – L’usage des plaisirs, translated as The Use of Pleasure.
  2. An earlier version was published in November 1983 in Le Débat as “Usage des plaisirs et techniques de soi”.  This is Dits et écrits text 338. There is no published English translation.
  3. A still earlier version appeared in The Foucault Reader in 1984, without a contemporaneous corresponding French publication. It is reprinted with amendments in Ethics and that version is reprinted in The Essential Foucault. This text appears is Dits et écrits text 340.

In particular I track all the differences between texts 1 and 2, showing how text 1 is a version of 2 with changes that could have been made a proof-stage. The majority are minor – a few deleted words, the odd additional clause or short sentence, the addition of a footnote, changes to punctuation, sentences linked or broken etc. There are two exceptions – the concluding paragraph of HS II 21/13, which is markedly different to DE IV, 546; and a paragraph on DE IV, 547-8 which is different from HS II, 23-4/15.

I then move onto text 3, which is the first draft of the introduction, but this is a very different text. I suggest that the Dits et écrits editors may have had access to a hitherto unpublished French original. The text we have is very interesting, providing an overview of Foucault’s works, major and minor, and how they led him to the point he is at the time of its writing. I suggest that this text may date from March 1983, and be a fragment of the introduction to a manuscript Daniel Defert tells us was drafted at that time under the title of L’usage des plaisirs, a long volume that comprised the entirety of what actually became volumes two and three of the History of Sexuality – BNF NAF28284 (2-5). 

The three texts I listed at the outset appear there in reverse chronological order. Put in the right order

  1. DE text 340; The Foucault Reader – draft from May 1983?
  2. DE text 338; no English translation – version from Le Débat, November 1983.
  3. HS II – final version, May 1984.

Reading the first of these, especially in the improved translation in Ethics, and then the third of these in The Use of Pleasure is instructive. The information here should help with understanding how the second text was lightly edited to become the third, and stand in place of an English translation – what I’ve provided is essentially the editorial apparatus you’d need to construct a critical edition of the text.

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