The Rhetorical Foundations of Society

Ernesto Laclau. Verso, $26.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-78168-170-1
This rich collection of essays arrives sadly in the wake of the passing of its esteemed Argentine author, one of the world's eminent political philosophers. Here, Laclau deftly imbricates questions of rhetoric with his continued ruminations on political hegemony and, through various themes, examines the role language plays in establishing and perpetuating society. This frames signifiers, metaphor, and metonymy not as figures of speech but as indispensible inscriptions on our access to the world. Though the text draws on an array of themes and thinkers, Laclau responds in depth to Althusser, Zizek, Gramsci, Agamben, de Man, and Badiou. The essays themselves differ in subject matter from the more semantically rooted, such as his discussion of mysticism and the name of God or the treatment of metaphor in Proust, to the more political such as his discussion of the Solidarnosc (Solidarity) movement in Poland. Laclau's sweeping expertise provides the reader with numerous possibilities to pursue further research without requiring the reader to possess an encyclopedic knowledge of any of the thinkers or discourses discussed. Dense without being abstruse, this book is notably digestible considering its complexity. Laclau's illuminative intertwining of philosophy, politics, and literary analysis renders the book engaging and accessible on various levels. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 05/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 240 pages - 978-1-78168-171-8
Ebook - 131 pages - 978-1-78168-218-0
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