Pierre Macherey

(b. 1938)

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Louis Althusser (1918—1990) French philosopher

Georges Canguilhem (1904—1995)

Michel Pêcheux (1938—1983)


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Frenchliterary theorist. He was born in Belfort, in the Franche-Comté region. Macherey attended the École Normale Supérieure from 1958 to 1963, where he met Louis Althusser with whom he would work very closely for a number of years. He completed an MA in 1961 on Spinoza (a lifelong interest) under the direction of Georges Canguilhem. In 1962–3, Macherey, along with fellow students Étienne Balibar, Michel Pêcheux, and Jacques Rancière, undertook a year-long study of the then still relatively new critical methodology structuralism under the direction of Althusser. Next the group tackled Karl Marx's Das Kapital, eventually publishing a long multi-authored volume entitled Lire le capital (1968), partially translated as Reading Capital (1970). In the ensuing years, as the group disintegrated over personal, political, and theoretical differences, the contributions by Macherey and Rancière were deleted. In 1966, Macherey published Pour une théorie de la production littéraire, translated as A Theory of Literary Production (1978), which for many readers is not only his most important work, but also the most enduring example—at least in literary studies—of an Althusserian approach to textual analysis. In subsequent work, Macherey focused on Spinoza, completing a five-volume interpretation of his Ethics in 1998.

Further Reading:

C. Belsey Critical Practice (1980).

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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