An ambitious study of literary, aesthetic, and philosophical authors on the modern subject versus the modern body


This ambitious and immensely readable study helped establish Francis Barker's reputation on both sides of the Atlantic,. Now available in paperback with a revised preface from the author, The Tremulous Private Body studies several seventeenth-century texts to document the birth of the modern, self-possessed subject and the consequent waning of the modern body. Francis Barker draws on the theoretical work of Foucault, Derrida, and Lacan and the Marxism of Louis Althusser to interpret the works of Pepys, Shakespeare, Milton, Descartes, Marvell, and Rembrandt.

The Tremulous Private Body engages the central themes of postmodernism--discourse, sexuality, textuality, and power--but it is not a poststructuralist work, rejecting many of the positions characteristic of poststructuralism, particularly its tendency to depoliticize discourse. The book's intense and challenging style weaves together its contemporary theoretical preoccupations and its reflection on historical material into a single, penetrating analysis of the structure of modern culture. It suggests how discourse today is complicit in the wider forms of dominance that define our world.