Richard Sennett

Sexuality and Solitude

Michel Foucault and Richard Sennett, 21 May 1981

A few years ago, Michel Foucault and I discovered we were interested in the same problem, in very different periods of history. The problem is why sexuality has become so important to people as a definition of themselves. Sex is as basic as eating or sleeping, to be sure, but it is treated in modern society as something more. It is the medium through which people seek to define their personalities, their tastes. Above all, sexuality is the means by which people seek to be conscious of themselves. It is that relationship between self-consciousness, or subjectivity, and sexuality that we want to explore. Few people today would subscribe to Brillat-Savarin’s ‘Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are,’ but a translation of this dictum to the field of sex does command assent: know how you love, and you will know who you are.

Superficially Pally: Richard Sennett

Jenny Turner, 22 March 2012

Sometimes, reading the weekly Work section in the Guardian can be sad. ‘The office as a playground is back in fashion,’ one recent front-page story says. ‘The midwives were...

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Sock it to me: Richard Sennett

Elizabeth Spelman, 9 October 2003

Among the more reasonable demands we make of our fellow human beings is that they treat us with respect. ‘Just a little bit’, as Aretha Franklin sang and sang again, seems to go a...

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Magic Zones

Marina Warner, 8 December 1994

When Pasolini, disgusted with the fatted values of post-war capitalism in Italy, was dreaming up an alternative in his late Trilogy, he found the imagery he needed in old collections of stories,...

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Heavenly Cities

Daniel Aaron, 10 October 1991

For the last thirty years Richard Sennett – urban sociologist, historian, novelist – has been meditating on the culture and ecology of industrial cities: on how they evolved, on how...

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Possibility throbs

Richard Altick, 23 July 1987

By 1828, the courtyard of the Palais-Royal in Paris, once a fashionable bazaar, had degenerated into the commercial slum Balzac would later describe in Les Illusions Perdues: three rows of badly...

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Dark Places

John Sutherland, 18 November 1982

With Wise Virgin, A.N. Wilson continues his bleak investigation of trauma. The Healing Art (his most acclaimed novel so far) scrutinised human sensibility under the sentence of terminal cancer.

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Participation in America

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 6 November 1980

De Tocqueville feared, not for the failure of democracy in America, but for its success: not, like so many of his French contemporaries, for its propensity to release an unbridled égoisme,...

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