‘Foucault in the Valley of Death‘ – Andrew Marzoni on Simeon Wade’s Foucault in California in The Baffler (online and in issue #46).
I spoke to Marzoni by phone during his research for this piece, and am briefly quoted in it. Although it uses the Wade memoir, it goes quite a way beyond that, and quotes the correspondence between Foucault and Wade which is now archived at USC.
THE FIRST TIME that Simeon Wade read Michel Foucault was in a graduate seminar at Harvard in the 1960s. Madness and Civilization had been translated into English in 1965, and the book excited Wade, who had been vice president of the Baptist student union at the College of William and Mary only a few years earlier. But it was The Order of Things, a bestseller in France upon its publication in 1966, that caused the young Marxist to “discard Hegelianism,” as he later explained, for the humanistic “equivalent of Watson and Crick’s analysis of the double helix.” Wade earned a doctorate in the intellectual history of Western civilization in 1968, writing a thesis on “The Idea of Luxury in Eighteenth-Century England,” and after teaching in Boston for a couple of years, hitched a ride with his fraternity brother Jet Thomas, who had officiated the wedding of Gram Parsons, to California, where Thomas owned a cabin on Mount Baldy. [continues here]