Books received – Benveniste, Dumézil, Merleau-Ponty, Piel (and a note on the political controversy around Dumézil)


A pile of second-hand books, all for the Foucault work and related projects.

In particular I’m writing a piece on Foucault and Dumézil, which is mainly about their understandings of sovereignty. In that piece, which I think will largely focus on Dumézil’s Mitra-Varuna, I touch on the political controversy about his work – particularly around his writings on Scandinavian mythology and its contemporary resonances. The two books at the top of the pile are at the centre of this controversy – Mythes et dieux des Germains was published in 1939, and Les Dieux des Germains in 1959. The latter was translated as Gods of the Ancient Northmen in 1973, along with some additional essays (I’m still looking for a good quality copy of that translation, long out of print, though it’s available at One argument made – by people like Carlo Ginzburg and Arnaldo Momigliano – is that the 1959 book is a sanitised version, avoiding some of the contemporary allusions of the 1939 book. This critique began in the early-mid 1980s, and Dumézil replied to both Ginzburg and Momigliano, though he says he will add more at a later date – a promise that was never fulfilled, since he died in 1986.

For this piece I will say relatively little about the controversy, but I want to at least mention it, since the 1939 book is important for Dumézil’s development of an understanding of sovereignty. I might return to the political question at a later point, though this has been quite extensively discussed – Didier Eribon and Bruce Lincoln have both written about this topic. But it’s good to have copies of the books at the heart of this issue – Mythes et dieux des Germains was quite hard to find, as are many of Dumézil’s early works.

This entry was posted in Georges Dumézil, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Foucault, The Early Foucault, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Books received – Benveniste, Dumézil, Merleau-Ponty, Piel (and a note on the political controversy around Dumézil)

  1. dmf says:

    “territorial laboratories”

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