Skip to main content

This Is Not a Pipe (Quantum Books #24)

Michel Foucault, James Harkness (Editor), James Harkness (Translated by), René Magritte (Illustrator)


List Price: 24.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


What does it mean to write "This is not a pipe" across a bluntly literal painting of a pipe? René Magritte's famous canvas provides the starting point for a delightful homage by French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault. Much better known for his incisive and mordant explorations of power and social exclusion, Foucault here assumes a more playful stance. By exploring the nuances and ambiguities of Magritte's visual critique of language, he finds the painter less removed than previously thought from the pioneers of modern abstraction.

Praise For This Is Not a Pipe (Quantum Books #24)

"This essay not only proposes a new understanding of Magritte; it also constitutes a perfect illustration and introduction to the thought of the philosopher himself, France's great wizard of paradox."

— New York Review of Books

"Magritte's respectful fan letters to Mr. Foucault, which are included in this volume, the useful introduction and splendid translation by James Harkness and the handy black-and-white reproductions of many of Magritte's works combine to make this a document of extraordinary interest."

— New York Times

"Foucault poses major questions about pictorial reference, and his original and novel account is worth arguing with."

— Leonardo

University of California Press, 9780520236943, 104pp.

Publication Date: July 1, 2008

About the Author

One of the most important theorists of the twentieth century, Michel Foucault's (1926-1984) many influential books include Discipline and Punish, The Archeology of Knowledge, The History of Sexuality, and The Discourse on Language.