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Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari

Forget Dolce and Gabbana—this D&G are the dynamic duo of literary criticism. They shattered the dominant ideas of their time about capitalism, linguistics, and pop culture, and they tore to shreds those comfy Freudian couches lying around in psychoanalysts' offices the world over.

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari disliked capitalism and Sigmund Freud but embraced Marxism, American hippies, and the mentally ill. Guattari even helped organize circuses to help his most catatonic patients. Somehow, this is all supposed to help us analyze literature. What can we say? Welcome to the world of French post-structuralism.

We all need a little structure. A noun, a verb, an object—these are all very helpful things if we want to communicate with each other. But literary post-structuralism tells us that linguistic structures always change depending on who builds them and who uses them.

Deleuze and Guattari want us to know that the thoughts and ideas we call schizophrenic, radical, or marginal are the very ideas that help language change, develop, and become more inclusive. If you're analyzing literature the D&G way, you'll be looking for the freaks and geeks in the story. What happens to them will tell you more about what you're reading than anything else.

The D&G literary circus is made up of characters who wander in from out of town; it's made up of strange plants growing up from cracks in the pavement; it's made up of the strange and unusual. D&G say that meaning will be found hidden in the person talking nonsense, or in the storylines that are told from the margins of society. What weirds us out and confuses us and makes our hair stand on end—this is the stuff of great literature.

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