• Madness and Civilization

  • A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason
  • By: Michel Foucault
  • Narrated by: Dave Gillies
  • Length: 10 hrs and 36 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (130 ratings)

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Madness and Civilization

By: Michel Foucault
Narrated by: Dave Gillies
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Publisher's Summary

In this classic account of madness, Michel Foucault shows once and for all why he is one of the most distinguished European philosophers since the end of World War II. Madness and Civilization, Foucault's first book and his finest accomplishment, will change the way in which you think about society. Evoking shock, pity, and fascination, it might also make you question the way you think about yourself.

©1972 Editions Gallimard; English translation copyright 1965 by Random House, Inc. (P)2016 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Superb scholarship rendered with artistry." ( The Nation)

What listeners say about Madness and Civilization

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Classic study; distracting narrator

If you could sum up Madness and Civilization in three words, what would they be?

Madness = social control

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Dave Gillies?

Gillies was not the right choice for this narration. The problem is not his Scottish accent; it's his ponderous style. Foucault's themes are heavy and his mode of exposition is intricate, but stylistically he is light on his feet, like a dancer or a featherweight boxer. This quality of his writing and thinking is completely lost in Gillies' rendition.

20 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Crucial book. Bad reading performance.

Strange, incongruously melodramatic reading totally distracts from the text. The reader's voice trembles with emotion, speeds up, slows down, increases then decreases volume, without following the content. This kind of hammy performance is bad enough when you hear it in a Shakespeare performance. Why the reader thinks it works for this book is hard to imagine. Not easy to take this audiobook seriously, which is really disappointing.

12 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Horrible horrible narrator

Would you listen to Madness and Civilization again? Why?

Yes. Because I have to listen several times to get past the horrible narration.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

His voice goes up and down with ZERO consideration of the text.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

Any additional comments?

Will never listen to this narrator again. Horrible.

7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Horrible Performance

The performance is so difficult to listen to, I can't rate the book! Worst listening experience ever!

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Narration experiment?

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I read several reviews that were critical of the emotive narration. Listening to the sample, I thought it couldn't be so bad... Unfortunately, I have to concede that the style of narration does finally detract from the work. It's just overdone. Rather than picking out nuance, it becomes distracting.

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Significant 20th Century text butchered

The 20th Century is significant for its depoliticization and the end of history. Foucault crossing the rubicon between reason and madness is a symptom of this in that he shrugs at the task of truth and freedom. However, this text is descriptive of the prevalent attitude of his time that still holds sway in academia today. The speaker’s dramatic performance that has no congruence with the content of the book is a serious obstacle to basic comprehension of this complicated study. How unfortunate!

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A complex and difficult listen, but one worth the effort

This work is translated from French to English and is read in what I believe is a Scottish accent. This combination of factors may account for some of the complexity encountered in comprehending certain passages and understanding the sometimes circuitous reasoning the author pens while making his more subtle philosophical points. That having been said, the readers accent marries well with the remarkably lyrical prose. The book has also provided a novel conceptualization of its topic that I had not yet encountered in my reading

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Just really the wrong choice of narrator.

I'm sure this guy is great with other material. But he is just the wrong choice for this. It isn't the Scottish accent. He's just... too flippant. You would think he was reading light fiction. Also, his constantly changing tone makes it hard to follow the text. I

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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An Exercise in Madness

Obtuse post-modern language is at once the greatest strength and greatest weakness of this book. Dave Gillies gives an excellent reading that adds to the texture of the words and transports us to an alternate future where the flowery language of 18th Century Europe continued on that trajectory rather than becoming dumbed-down with slang and emojis as modern English has. This overwrought and fantastical language seems to make it the perfect candidate for speaking about madness: how better to convey the internal contradictions of madness than to sound mad yourself?

The first four chapters of this book are its strongest, wherein medieval and Greco-Roman depictions of madness in the theater and daily life remind me of scenes straight out of the Count of Monte Cristo. Unfortunately, the style and prose crash to an unlistenable halt in the sixth chapter. Two full hours of discussing how melancholia is dry and has the essence of black bile was enough to force me to skip through those chapters (and I had just completed a full reading of John Locke's Two Treatise on Government, so I in no way consider myself to give up easily). When this language is used to discuss out-dated medical terminology of the four essences (biles, humors, blood-letting and the like), it becomes inane completely meaningless.

The book never quite catches its stride again and I found myself disenchanted with Foucault's bloviating language, despite some bright points of insight that paint brilliant literary metaphors.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Just one issue

This is no one's fault but the voice is distractingly sexy. It takes a little getting used to. After that Foucault is surprisingly digestible in audiobook form.