The works of Gilles Deleuze—on cinema, literature, painting, and philosophy—have made him one of the most widely read thinkers of his generation. This compact critical volume is not only a powerful reappraisal of Deleuze’s thought, but also the first major work by Alain Badiou that became available in English. Badiou compellingly redefines what it means to be “Deleuzian”, throwing down the gauntlet in the battle over the very meaning of Deleuze’s legacy.
For those who view Deleuze as the apostle of desire, flux, and multiplicity, Badiou’s book is a deliberate provocation. Through a deep philosophical engagement with his writings, Badiou contends that Deleuze is not the Dionysian thinker of becoming he took himself to be; on the contrary, he is an ascetic philosopher of Being and Oneness. Deleuze’s self-declared anti-Platonism fails—and that, in Badiou’s view, may ultimately be to his credit. “Perhaps it is not Platonism that has to be overturned,” Badiou writes, “but the anti-Platonism taken as evident throughout this entire century.”
This volume draws on a five-year correspondence undertaken by Badiou and Deleuze near the end of Deleuze’s life, when the two put aside long-standing political and philosophical differences to exchange ideas about similar problems in their work. Badiou’s incomparably attentive readings of key Deleuzian concepts radically revise reigning interpretations, offering new insights to even the veteran Deleuze reader and serving as an entree to the controversial notion of a “restoration” of Plato advocated by Badiou—in his own right one of the most original figures in postwar French philosophy.
The result is a critical tour de force that repositions Deleuze, one of the most important thinkers of our time, and introduces Badiou to English-speaking readers.