Lengthy review essay by Stuart Elden of two recent Foucault publications On the government of the living, and Wrong-doing, truth-telling: the function of avowal in justice, in Berfrois.
It is perhaps too little noted that what we have in these and other publications, expertly edited and translated though they are, are transcribed lecture courses, supplemented by material from manuscripts. The references are, for the most part, the work of the editors, rather than Foucault’s own, and they bear many marks of their verbal delivery.
As he [Foucault] notes: “what I would like to do and know that I will not be able to do is write a history of the force of truth, a history of the power of truth, a history, therefore, to take the same idea from a different angle, of the will to know.”
But it is in confession that perhaps the key importance of this material lies…Foucault here uses two terms that we might translate as ‘confession’ – l’aveu and la confession. Foucault is not always consistent in his separation of the terms, which has meant many previous translations have rendered both in the same way.