Dr David Macey

By John G Taylor; Elaine Capizzi | The Independent (London, England), November 12, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Dr David Macey

John G Taylor; Elaine Capizzi, The Independent (London, England)

Internationally renowned French scholar

With the death of Dr David Macey, we have lost an internationally renowned scholar, author and translator, whose publications mapped and excavated the terrain of contemporary French intellectual and political debates. His work was notable for the scope of the cultural and scholarly resources he brought to bear on complex and often dense topics, and for his eloquent and lucid writing which made these subjects accessible and pleasurable for a readership beyond the academy. Students around the world find their journeys into and through these debates much more navigable and engaging as a result of his Dictionary of Critical Theory (2000).

In Macey's biographies of Foucault (1993, 2004), Lacan (1988) and Fanon (2000), he offered original and often startling narratives of their lives, discourses and projects. For example, his early Lacan in Context was a critical challenge to more orthodox interpretations, as he explored unacknowledged influences such as surrealism on Lacan's work.

His abiding interest in Michel Foucault led to two books, many articles and interviews. His longer work on Foucault, The Lives of Michel Foucault, in 1993, was declared by the Times Literary Supplement to be "The best Foucault biography to appear in English." With Franz Fanon: A Life, Macey invoked a more overt political engagement and took his work to a new audience. It reshaped our understanding of this important political figure.

Macey also published under a pseudonym a personal account of the joys and traumas of family life with adopted children, unflinchingly describing the difficulties of family life with children who had had damaging starts.

His academic career culminated in his appointments as a research associate in the Department of French at Leeds University in 1995 and as a special professor in translation at the University of Nottingham in 2010. Alongside producing original books, articles and reviews in journals ranging from Radical Philosophy to Theory, Culture and Society, he was an accomplished translator. He translated over 60 books and innumerable articles from the French.

An unassuming demeanour belied his intelligence and curiosity.

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