Faculty Book: Richard Wolin
The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution, and the Legacy of the 1960s
(Princeton University Press, 2010; pbk., 2012)
Combining a merciless exposé of left-wing political folly and cross-cultural misunderstanding with a spirited defense of the 1960s, Wolin shows how French students and intellectuals, inspired by their perceptions of China’s Cultural Revolution and motivated by utopian hopes, incited grassroots social movements and reinvigorated French civic and cultural life. While the allure of Maoism actually had little to do with a real understanding of Chinese politics, it served as a vehicle for an emancipatory transformation of French society. Wolin examines how Maoism captured the imaginations of France’s leading cultural figures, influencing Jean-Paul Sartre’s “perfect Maoist moment”; Michel Foucault’s conception of power; Philippe Sollers’s chic, leftist intellectual journal Tel Quel; and Julia Kristeva’s book on Chinese women, which included a vigorous defense of foot-binding. The paperback edition was named one of the 2012 Best Books in History by the Financial Times. Richard Wolin is a distinguished professor of comparative literature, history, and political science at the Graduate Center.
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Submitted on: FEB 20, 2013