At his death in 1984, Michel Foucault left a letter stating that he wanted no posthumous publication of his work. He should have known better: The hunger for further clarification and elaboration of the master’s positions would prove irresistible. So too has been the flow of posthumous publications, the most eagerly awaited of which have been the dozen or so book-length compilations of his annual lectures at the Collège de France, which began to appear in English translation in 2003.
The lectures, diverging as they often do from the books that made Foucault famous, only added to the controversy. They are—along with various manifestos, unpublished drafts, interviews, and other miscellaneous writings—now also the subject of two fascinating new books by Stuart Elden: Foucault: The Birth of Power and Foucault’s Last Decade. In the former, Elden tries to soothe some of the long-standing tensions between Foucault and Marx, in part by displaying hidden continuities between Foucault’s early work on madness and knowledge and his later work on power. In the latter, Elden deals with the 10 years after Foucault finished the manuscript of Discipline and Punish and began (on the same day!) The History of Sexuality.