Frantz Fanon: A Biography

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9780312275501: Frantz Fanon: A Biography

Born in Martinique, then as now a departement of France, Frantz Fanon (l925-61) trained as a psychiatrist in Lyons before taking up a post in colonial Algeria. He had already experienced racism as a soldier in the Free French Army, for which he had volunteered and in whose ranks he saw combat during the liberation of France. In Algeria, he came into contact with the Front de Liberation National whose ruthless struggle for an independent Algeria was met with quite exceptional violence by the French Army. Fanon identified completely with the FLN and soon became a marked man. Forced to flee Algeria when he resigned his post, Fanon subsequently worked with the FLN as a propagandist and ambassador.

Based on extensive and original research, this is the most compete and objective biography of Fanon yet written. It sweeps away the myths that have grown up around him and reveals Fanon to be a complex figure, infinitely more interesting than the theorist of anti-colonial violence celebrated by the left in the 60s. Macey shows Fanon to have been a man formed in the context of the French Caribbean, with its history of slavery and racism, and traces Fanon's intellectual career as a political thinker and psychiatrist with great care, setting it against the background of post-war French culture.

David Macey has done justice for the first time to the extraordinary life of a complex figure, flawed in some respects but fundamentally a humanist committed to the eradication of colonialism, a man whose angry and eloquent writings are still of fierce relevance today.

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About the Author:

David Macey has translated some twenty books from the French. He is the author of Lacan in Context, the acclaimed The Lives of Michel Foucault, and The Penguin Dictionary of Critical Theory. He lives in Leeds, England.

From Publishers Weekly:

Macey (Lacan in Context), British translator, biographer and critic, is one of the foremost English-language chroniclers of the distinctive postwar French hybrids of psychological, political and historical thought. His Lives of Michel Foucault is so far the definitive biographical study of the prodigious thinker, and this biography of a fervent anti-colonialist revolutionary may be even more important for the role it could play in bringing Fanon's writings out of the American academy and back into common discussion. Fanon (1925-1961) was a native of Martinique, more than 10 years the junior of the radical "negritude" poet (and current mayor of Fort-de-France) Aim‚ C‚saire, who was one of his high school teachers. By the time Fanon's brilliant, blistering diatribe Black Skin, White Masks appeared from a Paris publisher in 1952, Fanon was a psychiatrist; he had been part of a Moroccan-based resistance unit during the war, and had found the white left irredeemably bigoted. (Fanon described the book as a study in "language and aggressivity.") Fanon's colossal shifts of registers (political, medical, poetic, sociological) in the book's phenomenology of racism are well explicated by Macey, who gives nuanced accounts of the African nationalist essays and books that followed (primarily concerning Algeria, where Fanon practiced), and complicates Fanon's advocacy of violence-as-catharsis one of the facets of his work that attracted the radical American left of the '60s. Macey does a terrific job throughout reconstructing the contexts in which Fanon conceived and wrote his works, and the terms with which one might best approach them. The book will be invaluable to scholars, but those looking for an entr‚e into postwar Francophone literature and its political militancy will find this book an excellent guide to notoriously thorny works, and to their author, who died of cancer soon after his illness was discovered.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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