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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, elegant, sometimes difficult
As a lover of the a.v.s.i. series of books I've come to realise that they don't have a huge amount in common in terms of their prose style. Sometimes you get crisply written, dull expositions, and other times self-indulgent, wince inducing material from someone a tad too in love with their subject to see through the fog. This effort from Catherine Belsey straddles the gap...
Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer

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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat superficial
I'm aware of the irony of using a word usually associated with postmodernism to criticise a book on poststructuralism but for me, this book seemed a lot better on a flick-through than it turned out to be.

The author writes well and engagingly but poststructuralism is a complex field and I felt that the difficult aspects were skipped over in favour of the more...
Published on 15 July 2009 by R. Napier


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, elegant, sometimes difficult, 29 Aug. 2013
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As a lover of the a.v.s.i. series of books I've come to realise that they don't have a huge amount in common in terms of their prose style. Sometimes you get crisply written, dull expositions, and other times self-indulgent, wince inducing material from someone a tad too in love with their subject to see through the fog. This effort from Catherine Belsey straddles the gap without ending up far towards either side to fall in. Whilst she introduces her material concisely and incisively, there are occasionally flourishes where her obvious passion really brings the material to life. She makes frequent use of relevant examples from literature and art to provide examples of poststructuralist modes of thought in action, so to speak. On the academic side of the coin, the intellectual heavyweights most closely associated with the structuralist and poststructuralist movements are introduced, described and rounded off with a short biography which provides some historical, sociological and psychological context to their work and life.

Occasionally the narrative goes a little off piste but it's forgivable considering the nature of the beast; the ideas are often not for the faint of heart and this will take some level of commitment on the part of the reader. Many of the big thinkers involved were showing how language contorts and is contorted by the human subject. Their work embraces the ambiguity of our systems of language and often revels in its own obscurity as if to make this point. If you're completely new to formal philosophical thinking then there could be a few areas of struggle ahead. However, Belsey manages to stop things drifting off into the stratosphere with a particularly wonderful exposition of Shakespeare's 'Sonnet 18' showing how this ambiguity can serve to delight as much as frustrate.

In my view this is a commendable attempt to compress and present a lot of often difficult and disparate ideas cogently, with insights compounded from fields such as sociology, anthropology, literary theory and psychoanalysis. The latter being my particular area of study, I found the material on Lacan particularly useful and well-written. All in all, a to-the-point introduction to an often obscure subject, expressed stylishly in an idiosyncratic and often creative manner. Well done!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four and a half stars really, 6 April 2013
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This review is from: Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Of the few books from this series that I have read, this one is the shortest in length and that is unfortunate. Other authors treat the subject in a similar fashion also and I suspect this is because the nature of poststructuralism does not lend itself to being easily introduced. For this reason though I think that any text about poststructuralism should be longer rather than shorter.

Belsey starts off at beginning with the usual exploration of language - signifier and signified. Over the context of the whole book she treats the issue of poststructuralism's approach to language in a clear manner and the reader is able to develop a concrete and deeper understanding of how language can predate reality without it sounding improbable. The most quotable poststructuralist of them all - Foucault - is of course there though not dwelt on, Lacan also is present and its good to see Kristeva there also. The unreadable Derrida is present and although Belsey is good and tries to explain Derrida's deconstruction as 'the trace of the other in the selfsame' - no, I still do not really get it.

Belsey presents a clear and well written text which covers poststructural theory well - rationality, origin and poststructuralism's opposition to realism . It is made interesting by the inclusion of topics such as ideological uses of mythology {Barthes}. She does once or twice drift off into never never land but she has the good taste to not linger there. The final chapter 'Dessent' is incisive and though the discussion opens to include Lyotard's postmodernism, Belsey makes a final clear case for postructuralism.

This book would be a valuable inclusion in anyone's mini library on postructuralism. .
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Personal Revolution, 3 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I'm an art student, and as I was interested in orders and structures I picked this up in the bookshop, thinking "oh, what's structuralism?" This book was so inspiring, its concise and excellent explanation of the key ideas with diverse and sometimes surprising references, was absolutely riveting. I read it in one evening, without being able to put it down, and it has formed a fundamental point of inspiration to me. Absolutely brilliant.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible, 10 April 2012
This review is from: Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I found this introduction to a large and complex subject unexpectedly engaging and accessible. I was only very vaguely familiar with structuralism and poststructuralism and this is exactly what I needed as a 'way in'. It sets you up for further reading or can be left as an interesting read in its own right. Much appreciated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, concise and comprehensive, 6 Mar. 2014
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Catherine Belsey should be awarded a prize for plain writing in a complex and difficult field that is filled with convoluted and opaque prose. She even succeeds in explaining why this is so interestingly and convincingly. An excellent little book for students on the run and a good introduction to the field for the general reader.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Byron, 29 Jun. 2013
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David Parry - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Just the kind of text I was looking for-It extends and challenges our view of Byron's work-very useful and explains a complex concept in simple words
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5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful book, 7 May 2014
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This review is from: Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I enjoyed reading this. Found it to be an engaging introduction to post structuralism and would recommend it to others.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars idea of postructuralism, 1 Jun. 2011
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Mr. Robert Marsland (Glasgow) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Postructuralists have broadly criticised the notion of common meaning in language, saying that such a process is limiting to our lives. This small study introduces the idea in terms of language first and then goes on to look briefly at what the major protagonists of post-structuralism have done with it. As with most philosophies though, apart from those which seek to unify differing ideas, post-structuralism is only half the story (not that this book says that). A good and useful introduction, though.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 30 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
A good deal of knowledge
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat superficial, 15 July 2009
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R. Napier (Wiltshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I'm aware of the irony of using a word usually associated with postmodernism to criticise a book on poststructuralism but for me, this book seemed a lot better on a flick-through than it turned out to be.

The author writes well and engagingly but poststructuralism is a complex field and I felt that the difficult aspects were skipped over in favour of the more entertaining.
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